If you’re busily preparing for the end of the world on Dec. 21, you’re wasting your time, according to two associate professors at Youngstown State University.
Matt O’Mansky, an associate professor of sociology and anthropology, and Pat Durrell, an associate professor of physics and astronomy, will explain why on Friday and Saturday in the Ward Beecher Planetarium. Both presentations — which are free and open to the public — will begin at 8 p.m.
O’Mansky and Durrell will use evidence from their respective fields to negate the Maya prophecy and other end-of-the-world predictions.
“We want to put the Maya side and the astronomy side together to debunk the pseudoscience,” Durrell said. “As an astronomer, I look at these claims that are obviously incorrect. They are easily refuted by fact-checking.”
Durrell said he hopes the presentation will teach people not to believe everything they hear.
“I want to get people to start thinking for themselves,” Durrell said.
“It’s a cool universe with lots of neat things. There are dangers, but to suggest they will all happen in one day because it coincides with the end of the Mayan calendar is crazy.”
O’Mansky said the presentation will also explore some truths surrounding the apocalyptic predictions. For instance, Dec. 21 does mark the end of one cycle of the long-count Mayan calendar; each cycle spans approximately 5,125 years.
“The Mayans were obsessed with time,” O’Mansky said. He said this led them to create the long-count calendar, which is a linear count of days.
One Mayan baktun is equivalent to about 394 years. On Dec. 21, 13 baktuns will have passed, marking the end of one cycle of days. After this cycle, however, a new one will begin.
“The Maya today would have a celebration or build a monument or a new, huge temple,” O’Mansky said. “They would prepare for the new cycle. It would be a time of renewal.”
The keys to this mystery are two ancient stone monuments. Monument 6 — which is located in Tortuguero, a Mayan city in southern Mexico — features an inscription that refers to the end of the current baktun era.
“The monument reads that something will occur, but the verb has eroded,” O’Mansky said.
O’Mansky said the hieroglyphs speak of descent, which is the word that Mayans used in relation to building temples. This monument supports the belief that the Mayans would have celebrated on this day, rather than prepared for impending doom.
However, the Aztec calendar stone, found in Mexico City, suggests that the fifth and current version of the world will be destroyed by an earthquake. O’Mansky said the relic helped spread the rumor of the 2012 apocalypse.
“This is actually about a doomsday prediction, but has nothing to do with the Mayan calendar,” he said.
O’Mansky and Durrell said they expect Dec. 21 to be similar to the end of the millennium: The world will go on.
“I’m just hoping I’ll have my holiday shopping done by this day,” Durrell said.