By DENISE DICK
If you haven’t started stockpiling supplies and digging your backyard bunker in preparation for the end of the world Friday, don’t start now.
Two Youngstown State University professors say it’s not going to happen.
There’s nothing in Maya culture that points to the world ending, said Matt O’Mansky, associate professor of sociology, anthropology and gerontology.
“It’s a fascinating culture and a wonderful universe,” said Patrick Durrell, associate professor of physics and astronomy at Youngstown State University. “Neither one is trying to kill us.”
The belief that Maya predicted the world would end Friday is based on a misinterpretation, O’Mansky said.
The Maya celebrate the end of a time period, and the longer the time period ending, the bigger the commemoration.
Dec. 21, 2012, marks the end of the 13th bak’tun, or 400-year period, and the beginning of the 14th bak’tun.
O’Mansky likened it to a New Year’s celebration: the end of the year sees a commemoration which is bigger for the end of a decade and bigger still at the end of a century.
The monument from which the end-of-the-world proselytization stem was found in Tortuguero, Mexico, and lists the date. But it’s unclear what it says about the date because the hieroglyphs that explain it have been eroded.
From that, some have extrapolated a Maya forecast for the world’s demise.
Others have predicted a new age of peace, love and enlightenment begins that day.
O’Mansky, an archaeologist specializing in the ancient Maya who has worked in Belize and Guatemala for more than 20 years, says there’s no basis for either theory.
The end of the world prediction produced a series of ideas for catastrophic astronomical events that would make it happen.
They’ve ranged from solar flares and black holes to galactic alignment, planetary collisions and magnetic pole switching.
Durrell dismisses all of them.
One theory getting traction via the Internet posits that the world will end when Planet X, also called Nibiru, crashes into it.
“There is no Nibiru,” Durrell says.
And if there were a planet charging on a path of destruction toward Earth, we’d be able to see it with the naked eye, he said. In fact, we would have been able to see it as long as a year ago.
“It’s a complete fabrication,” he said.
Solar flares happen, but it’s not something that can be predicted.
“The Maya were accomplished astronomers, but not so much that they knew anything then that we don’t know now,” Durrell said.
Magnetic pole shifting has happened many times during the course of the life of our planet with no destructive consequences, he said.
The professors, who have given presentations to debunk end-of-world fears, believe the idea grew out of people’s desire to think that ancient civilizations were more enlightened and knew things that we don’t.
Both professors wish the new-found interest in their fields of study were based on fact rather than a myth and misinterpretation.
“There’s lots of fascinating things that are real that are up in the sky,” Durrell said.