We’re still here!

December 21, 2012 • 4:00 am

Well, at least I am; I can’t speak for anyone else at 5 a.m. But I suspect, according to today’s Google doodle, that we all made it:

Screen shot 2012-12-21 at 5.54.31 AMThe Telegraph explains:

Clicking the image send visitors to Google’s search reults page for “End of the 13th Baktun”.

The 13th Baktun is the last cycle of the Mayan calendar, due to end today, December 21 2012. A Baktun is a period of almost 400 years.

The date has been misinterpreted as the heralding end of the world, but descendants of the Mayans have insisted the calendar merely resets and there will be no apocalypse. Instead, a 14th Baktun offers hope and change, they claim.

Sort of like theologians, aren’t they?

Neverthless [sic], across the globe people were last night converging to witness the apocalypse at sites including Mayan ruins, Stonehenge, Stalin’s bunker in Moscow, Byron Bay in Australia, and a sacred mountain in France.

In Central America believers flocked to ancient Mayan sites like Caracol in Belize, where they watched light passing through purposefully positioned structures, just as the inhabitants would have done over a millenium ago.

58 thoughts on “We’re still here!

    1. I am confident that we will be celebrating Coynezaa this year. But you should all be sending your gifts NOW!

    1. Is that the Nick Lane who wrote Power, Sex and Suicide? Fascinating book, even if he did say at one point that Conway Morris’s views on convergence were “persuasive”. And I’m still wondering whether it was him or me who misunderstood Dawkins Selfish Gene idea – Lane says the unit of selection is the organism in the case of bacteria, I say it’s still the gene.

      1. Is that the Nick Lane who wrote Power, Sex and Suicide? Fascinating book,

        Very likely. Yes, the book is on my shelves. Somewhere.

      2. All three of Lane’s books were thoroughly enjoyable. He is dead wrong about the unit of selection, though.

        Organisms simply do not replicate. You can argue that the entire genome of a bacterium (save plasmids) can be considered a single gene for some length of time, but it’s still the gene that replicates, not the bacterium. The notion that bacteria divide into two exact copies of the same organism is just wrong. One new organism buds off, and the original (which keeps all the eventually fatal detritus of living which can’t be removed) remains.

        Part of the problem may be the trendiness of using the term “gene” to mean a protein-coding segment of DNA. That’s not what the word originally meant, and it’s certainly not how Dawkins used the term.

    2. Oh, that sounds interesting … googling … There’s nothing terribly exciting sounding on his publication record at https://iris.ucl.ac.uk/research/personal/index?upi=NJLAN31 ; New Scientist has a little twitch of life from “Panspermia” Wixhramasinghe in response to a June article from Lane, which I vaguely remember reading … nope, I’ll need a reference to see what you’re excited about.

          1. Got it, thanks.
            At first glance it looks rather like Mike Russell’s hydrothermal vent hypothesis (Jerry may remember me mentioning this work in the Q&A session after his recent Glasgow presentation.), which itself builds upon Günter Wächtershäuser’s work … yeah, it’s potentially an appreciable step forwards. The iron-sulphur world theory has been the front-runner in theories of abiogenesis for … a decade or so, by my measure ; others may put it approaching two decades … and this probably puts it further in the lead.
            I wouldn’t say that the case is solved yet – no buckets of chemicals spontaneously generating life – but this looks like a noticeable step forward.

  1. Its just gone 7:15pm in Perth, Western Australia, which is when the world is officially coming to an end. I can assure everyone that absolutely nothing has happe

  2. I’m not one for ‘Atheist Cathedrals’ but I could imagine a block of stone with all the predicted and failed ‘end of the world’ dates engraved on it – as a means of exposing superstition for what it is.

    Have to be a damn big block of stone though.

      1. Didn’t I hear something about proposals to drain a reservoir built into the “second Yosemite” valley near San Francisco? That should provide a decent size chunk of nice smooth granite.

  3. So the fact that 12 baktuns have ended without the destruction of the world somehow escaped all these doomsayers? Was it because 13 is an unlucky number for Mayans, or something?

  4. Well I just had to peel back some wallpaper to ascertain the extent of what appears to be a leak in the exterior weatherproofing of my property.

    Honestly, to hear my wife going on about the damage I did to that wallpaper you’d think the world *had* come to an end …

    1. From the article:

      UA’s Conservation Genetics lab will conduct genetics testing of the scat…

      Years and years training in the lab, to culminate in sequencing litterbox biscuits. The bad part is I’m envious of those people.

  5. Speak for yourself — I’m up to my eyeballs in zombie guts, I’m dodging tornadoes, and I can’t hear a thing above all the HORRIBLE FLAMING DEATH AND THE DARK EYES THEY BURN RIGHT THROUGH ME OH THE PAIN THE HUGE MANATEE AAAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!

    Might be a bit thin on the posting today, all things considered….



      1. Ha! You had it easy.

        Back when I was a lad, we had to end the world ourselves, I tell ya, and there was none of this “getting better” afterwards. Yes sir, after you ended the world, you were a zombie for the rest of your death, and that was that. “Getting better” — what luxury!

        Kids these days….


      1. Yup.

        Indeed, there was some frost on the roofs overnight, but it’s already burned off. And, when I write, “burned,” that’s exactly what I mean.

        And now, if you’ll excuse me, the living room fire extinguisher is in need of a refill….


  6. You know, it occurs to me…the only way to take seriously any of the “We’re domed!” scenarios is to be completely ignorant of deep time and the size of the universe.

    Kinda makes for an easy filter, doesn’t it?


    1. Isn’t that what the suave, brainy, omnivorous and and adaptable Troodon said about those stupid tyrannosaurs and ceratopsians?

  7. Haven’t studied this much. But if this was some kind of rapture, hardly anybody were beamed up to the creepy overseer.
    Kinda spoils the looting part for the rest of us….

  8. I’m away from my notes*, but I’m amused that the blocks look like they could be giving today’s date: a date marker at the top left, in the long count, then two number + glyph that could be today’s date in the calendar round (3 Kankin 4 Ahau), and another sign that I don’t recognize.

    * A friend of mine was an anthropology/physics double major and taught a summer course on reading classic mayan.

  9. I think you may have misinterpreted why people are at Stonehenge, they are every Winter Solstice…..celebrating the shortest Day…something we can definetly rely on!

  10. Don’t blame the Mayans because some nimrod at the History Channel chose to interpret their calendar ending as an apocalypse prophecy.

  11. “Sort of like theologians, aren’t they?”
    Are you talking about the Mayan ancestors? Because people were saying that the Mayan calendar didn’t predict the end of the world long before now.

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