The world's supposed to end in 2012, right? After all, that's what the Mayans told us. (Wasn't it?) Heck, that's what Roland Emmerich told us. But it turns out we've all gotten it wrong.
According to the new book Calendars and Years II: Astronomy and Time in the Ancient and Medieval World, we should stop believing that doomsday will come in 2012 because that's when the Mayan calendar ends, since scientists didn't convert the Mayan calendar into the modern calendar correctly and could be off by as much as 50 to 100 years.
Yahoo News reports:
The Mayan calendar was converted to today's Gregorian calendar using a calculation called the GMT constant, named for the last initials of three early Mayanist researchers. Much of the work emphasized dates recovered from colonial documents that were written in the Mayan language in the Latin alphabet, according to the chapter's author, Gerardo Aldana, University of California, Santa Barbara professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies.
Later, the GMT constant was bolstered by American linguist and anthropologist Floyd Lounsbury, who used data in the Dresden Codex Venus Table, a Mayan calendar and almanac that charts dates relative to the movements of Venus.
But Aldana writes that Lounsbury's calculations can't be trusted, and:
"If the Venus Table cannot be used to prove the FMT as Lounsbury suggests, its acceptance depends on the reliability of the corroborating data," he said. That historical data, he said, is less reliable than the Table itself, causing the argument for the GMT constant to fall "like a stack of cards."
So if you cashed in your 401(k) and ran up those credit card bills figuring you wouldn't have to worry about it once the world ended in December 2012 ... we feel your pain.