Students ponder the world’s end
Get your canned foods, build your underground bunker and start drinking lots of water because the end is near—again.
According to the Mayan Calendar, many believe the world has once again been scheduled to come to an end––tomorrow, Dec. 21, 2012.
Some say it will end with a big boom, and others say it will end little by little. But most are adamant the world will never end, not in this lifetime at least.
Stephen Webre, department head and professor of history, said he does not believe the world is going to end Friday.
“Let’s put it this way, if the world does end, it will not be because of someone’s prediction,” said Webre, a specialist in Latin American history who recently taught an honors course on Mayan Civilization.
Webre said the entire concept is nonsense for several reasons, including the fact that most do not realize the Mayans had more than one calendar.
“The calendar being used to make these predictions has not been used since approximately the year 900,” he said. “People are using the Long Count Calendar to make predictions, and there are no known prophesies associated with long count days.”
Webre said even though the Long Count Calendar may not have been used to predict future events, the Calendar Round was used to predict events but never the end of the world.
“There is no reference to the date Dec. 21,” he said. “As far as I know, we have no idea if the formula used to convert Mayan dates to our dates is correct.”
Trey Evans, a business administration graduate student, said he thinks even the setup of the Mayan calendar is goofy.
“They count in a circle and then start back at the beginning,” he said. “It would be like saying the world was going to end on Dec. 31 just because the year is over.”
Webre said he would compare it to a car’s mileage counter, in that at a certain amount of miles the counter goes back to zero and starts over.
“That is true for the Mayan calendar,” he said. “The Mayans believe the world will end when the calendar has to start over and go back to zero.”
However, there are other theories on how the world will end.
Hillary Roser, a senior biology major, said if she had to predict how the world would end, it would end by the sun exploding.
“The end of the world is not something you can predict,” she said. “However, the sun is a ball of hydrogen. The solar flares are getting bigger and bigger, so they will eventually reach far enough out that it reaches the Earth.”
Evans said the sun exploding might explain the reason people believe their underground bunkers might help in the event of the world coming to an end.
“If the world does end on the 21st, I will be the first to congratulate everyone who purchased underground bunkers,” he said. “They are so well prepared.”
Across the world, people are creating videos, writing books and making movies about the world’s end.
Webre said if anything, the continuous predictions have done well for the book and movie industry and have even helped the news industry a little bit.
“This is not a unique sort of thing,” he said. “Prophesies of the world ending have come from different groups at different times.”
John Blackwell, a freshman mechanical engineering major, said the exact date of the end could never be predicted, but he does believe the end is near.
There have been a series of bad events over the past few years that also add to the idea that the end is near, he said.
“The Bible says no man knows the time or the date that the world will end, so there is no way the Mayans could know the world will end on the 21st,” he said. “I do know the end is drawing near due to signs spelled out by the Bible.”
Blackwell said natural signs prove the end is near.
He said according to the Bible, in the end there will be more earthquakes, major storms and volcano eruptions.
“There have been more major natural disasters over a span of the last 20 years than any other period of time in history,” Blackwell said.
Webre said talk of the end of the world entertains two ideas: the Western culture’s idea of the end being referred to as the rapture or the second coming when Christ comes back; the Mayans’ belief of the world ending when the calendar numbers return to zero, though the latter is usually the theory most focused on.
“The ideas in Western culture have considerable durability,” Webre said. “Though the Western idea has no connection with Mayan culture, the Western culture may account an idea such as the Mayans’, allowing it to catch on in the Western world.”
However, Mayans believe in a circular counting cycle, when Western culture believes in counting from beginning to end, he said.
No matter the system, people across the globe are either preparing to the full extent or not preparing at all.
Evans said he would prepare by watching “The Walking Dead” and “Survivor Man.”
Roser said she doesn’t feel as though there is any preparation needed, but if she were to do anything before the world ending, she would simply like to say goodbye to her loved ones.
“I do not understand why people try to prepare,” Roser said. “If your life is consumed on worrying about the end of the world, then you are taking away from the enjoyment of life.”
Webre said there is really no way to predict the end, so it is wasted time.
“The end could not happen for another 200 years,” he said. “For all we know, it could have happened already and we were not paying attention.”
The end could be near but preparation would do us no good, he said.
“An economics professor once told me the only way to a successful prediction is to predict often, and somewhere along the way you will get it right,” he said. “But if you are debating on studying for a test that is Friday, my advice is to study.”
Email comments to alm085@latech.