2012 phenomenon

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East side of stela C, Quirigua

The 2012 phenomenon was a range of eschatological beliefs that cataclysmic or transformative events would occur around 21 December 2012. This date was regarded as the end-date of a 5,126-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, and festivities took place on 21 December 2012 to commemorate the event in the countries that were part of the Maya civilization (Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador).

Origins[edit | edit source]

The phenomenon originated from the Maya civilization's Long Count calendar, which completed its thirteenth b'ak'tun (a period of 144,000 days) on this date. Some people interpreted this to mean an end to the world or a similar catastrophe. Scholars from various disciplines quickly dismissed predictions of cataclysmic events as they found no evidence that the ancient Maya themselves would have considered the date significant.

Interpretations[edit | edit source]

Interpretations of the 2012 phenomenon varied from the arrival of the next solar maximum, to Earth colliding with a black hole or a planet called "Nibiru," and to the start of a new era. The phenomenon also spurred a vast amount of literature and films, as well as a significant amount of public interest.

Scientific Rejection[edit | edit source]

Astronomers and other scientists rejected the predictions of impending doom as pseudoscience, stating that none of the proposed events were possible. The NASA website dedicated a section to debunking these claims, reassuring the public that the world would not end in 2012.

Cultural Impact[edit | edit source]

Despite the scientific rejection, the 2012 phenomenon had a significant cultural impact. It inspired a range of books, documentaries, and films. Additionally, it led to an increase in New Age movements that incorporated various aspects of the phenomenon into their beliefs and practices. The phenomenon also had an economic impact, with businesses selling survival kits and other related products.

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

After 21 December 2012 passed without incident, public interest in the 2012 phenomenon quickly waned. However, it remains a topic of interest for cultural scholars studying millenarian movements and the impact of ancient calendars on modern society.


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD