CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Community News Network

November 27, 2012

December doomsday? Don't change your plans, astronomer says

JOPLIN, Mo. — The classic Maya were gifted scientists with a keen sense of the heavens, says astronomer Mark Claussen. They understood the moon's phases and detected a slight wobble of the Earth's axis.

But these days the Maya are more commonly known for predicting the end of the world on Dec. 21, 2012. Its a piece of apocalyptic lore dismissed by Claussen, of National Radio Astronomy Observatory near Socorro, N.M., as well as his brother, Sam, who teaches a class in Mayan civilization at Missouri Southern State University.

“The Mayans never predicted such a thing,” said Sam Claussen. The doomsday date, he said, merely marks the end of the 20th cycle of a long-count calendar associated with the Maya.

“Think of it like an odometer in your car turning to zero,” he said. “When that happens, does the car explode or quit running? Of course not.”

Mark Claussen visited his brother's class this week to talk about the Maya, their astronomy and apocalyptic visions.

Among the latter theories: A rogue planet called "Nibiru" - which scientists have not actually seen - will soon smash into the Earth.

"A planet-sized chunk of rock can't stay hidden," said Mark Claussen. "It couldn't have escaped our attention."

Then there's the notion the Earth's poles will switch, throwing life as we know it into chaos. Evidence exists of polar switching, said Claussen, but it's a 10,000-year phenomenon, not something that occurs with four shopping days left until Christmas.

Also slow to form, he said, are solar flares, with some fear will spew from the sun come Dec. 21 and cause problems here on Earth.

A final theory, “galactic alignment," sounds like vintage science fiction and posits the sun's passage across something called the "Great Rift," a slash down the center of the Milky Way galaxy. The sun is to blot out a massive black hole, the theory holds, which will cause untold havoc here at home.

Text Only
Community News Network
  • 20140424-AMX-COFFEE24.jpg Coffee growers' prayers for rain met with threat of deluge

    Brazil's drought made arabica coffee this year's best-performing commodity. Now, farmers are facing a downpour that is once more threatening crops.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Celebrity quack moms are a terrible influence on everyday parents

    On April 15, the actress Alicia Silverstone released a book called "The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning." It's chock-full of attachment parenting lessons and dangerous misinformation.

    April 24, 2014

  • Affirmative action ruling challenges colleges seeking diversity

    The U.S. Supreme Court's support of Michigan's ban on race-based affirmative action in university admissions may spur colleges to find new ways to achieve diversity without using racial preferences.

    April 23, 2014

  • A 'wearable robot' helps her walk again

    Science is about facts, numbers, laws and formulas. To be really good at it, you need to spend a lot of time in school. But science is also about something more: dreaming big and helping people.

    April 23, 2014

  • The waffle taco's biggest enemy isn't McDonald's. It's consumer habits.

    Gesturing to Taco Bell, Thompson said McDonald's had "not seen an impact relative to the most recent competitor that entered the [breakfast] space," and that new competition would only make McDonald's pursue breakfast more aggressively.

    April 23, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cats outsmart the researchers

    I knew a lot had been written about dogs, and I assumed there must be at least a handful of studies on cats. But after weeks of scouring the scientific world for someone - anyone - who studied how cats think, all I was left with was this statement, laughed over the phone to me by one of the world's top animal cognition experts, a Hungarian scientist named Ádám Miklósi.

    April 22, 2014

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Do your genes make you procrastinate?

    Procrastinators, in my experience, like nothing better than explaining away their procrastination: General busyness, fear of failure, and simple laziness are just a handful of the excuses and theories often tossed around. Now researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have added another option to the list: genetics.

    April 21, 2014