SCIENCE
12/18/2012 08:01 am ET

2012 Apocalypse Myths Debunked: Five Mayan Doomsday Predictions & Why They're Wrong

By: Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer
Published: 12/17/2012 04:12 PM EST on LiveScience

On Friday, Dec. 21, some say, the Mayan apocalypse will arrive and the world will end. Fortunately, it won't.

A bold claim, we know, but if it's good enough for NASA, it's good enough for us. The space agency has already issued a press release dated Dec. 22 entitled "Why the World Didn't End Yesterday."

The Mayan apocalypse predictions arise from a misunderstanding of the ancient Maya Long Count Calendar, which wraps up a 400-year cycle called a b'ak'tun on Dec. 21, 2012, the day of the winter solstice. This just so happens to be the 13th b'ak'tun in the calendar, a benchmark the Maya would have seen as a full cycle of creation.

Did you catch that? Cycle. In other words, the Maya had a cyclical view of time and would not have seen the end of their calendar cycle as the end of the world. It wasn't until Westerners began reinterpreting the calendar in the past couple decades that it got its apocalyptic overtones. [Images: Mayan Calendar Carvings]

Mayan apocalypse rumors have proliferated on the Internet, running the gamut from beliefs that Dec. 21 will bring a new era of peace and universal understanding to predictions of a devastating astronomical event. We're all in favor of world peace, but we're here to put your fears to rest about the likelihood of planetary annihilation. Read on for five common Mayan apocalypse fears and why they won't come true.

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5 Mayan Apocalypse Myths Debunked

Follow Stephanie Pappas on Twitter @sipappas or LiveScience @livescience. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Copyright 2012 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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