2012: Hardcore Disaster Pr0n

2012b

This video made my day.

Fortunately I’ve been hard-wired to Twitter today, so I’ve spotted some awesome links pop up from my ace tweeters. But I wasn’t prepared for the awesomeness that was encapsulated in @jimmynewland tweet titled, “2012: All the Disaster Pr0n you can take!

To be honest, I was expecting the movie trailer for the John Cussak disaster flick “2012” (coming to a deafening surround sound theatre near you), but no… this is better… far better. Take a look, it gets funnier the more you watch it:

As I made all too clear in my previous post on this subject, I made the pre-preview prediction (and I didn’t need a crop circle to predict this) that 2012 is going to be heavy on the CGI, but light on the plot.

Basically, it looks like Emmerich’s wet dream, probably an opportunity he’s been waiting for all his career. If you thought The Day After Tomorrow was an Earth-crunching death-fest, think again, this movie has rolling buildings, flying Bentleys, flying giraffes, spaceships, exploding cities, exploding fireballs, exploding… rocks… Hell, where’s the nukes! We need nukes! I hope Emmerich remembered the nukes.

And this video sums the whole thing up, and I love it. As described by the creator on io9, Garrison Dean:

Every so often I feel a film is just being marketed poorly. This is often laziness and misdirection on their part. Occasionally it is arrogance when they think there is more to their film than is actually there. So, in my own arrogance, I try to help them along. Last year I felt “Hulk” needed some help. Today my mission is one that blends swimmingly with my own love of Disaster. Please enjoy this special holiday treat that I made just for you.

Dean is referring to 2012, and watching it, I can’t help but be entertained and enthusiastic for the movie. He’s done a great re-edit. It now has the 1970’s classic disaster movie atmosphere of Towering Inferno with the cutting edge Big Flaming Balls Of Fire™ we are now accustomed to in modern Hollywood.

It’s not going to be a good film, films kinda need plots. Perhaps the experienced cast might be able to pull it out of the frenzy of tsunamis, burning cities and crying children, but I’m not going for the plot, I’m going for the CGI… and the science errors, of course.

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John Cusack? Airlifted Giraffes? Please Tell Me It’s Doomsday

Firstly, let’s set the record straight: I love disaster movies.

I don’t care if the Earth is being invaded by aliens, getting hit by comets, being saved by oil drillers or poisoned by angry trees (yes, my brain even shrank through The Happening). It’s fiction, it’s fun and, let’s face it, who doesn’t enjoy a bit of global calamity interwoven with a silly plot.

So, today the extended trailer for the November film 2012 has been released (below), and I do admit, I was mildly excited to see what this budding blockbuster had to offer — although I changed my mind when seeing the horridly Hollywooded ‘science’ and the USS John F. Kennedy flatten the White House after surfing a mega-tsunami at the end. That was no cigarette they were smoking in the Sony Pictures cutting room.

The whole 2012 hype has kept my blogging gene active for the best part of a year, so I know for a fact that 2012 director Roland Emmerich has a lot of material to play with.

According to the CGI-fest of a trailer, have some ancient intrigue with “mankind’s earliest civilization” (the Mayans… a.k.a. not mankind’s earliest civilization) predicting the “end of the world” (are you sure?) with their pesky calendar. We also have something astronomical (yep, Planet X is back) careering toward Earth. We get tsunamis flattening cities, flying giraffe, Noah’s Ark, minivans getting hit by Big Flaming Balls Of Fire™, crying children, earthquakes, fire, more crying children, famine, angry politicians and John Cusack. (What?)

This is going to be oodles of fun if you want to see our planet disintegrate into a tortured dust bowl via computer-generated fury, but could this also be the end of the quintessential disaster movie?

This has been my complaint all along about the insane doomsday scenarios being dreamed up by crackpots and greedy authors: You’re trying too hard! What ever happened to the subtle art of doomsday prophesy?

EXAMPLE: Nostradamus says the world will end some hazy time in the hazy future (get that man a Nobel Prize!); a computer expert says, “Hmm, these microchips might reset when the calendar switches from 1999 to 2000,” followed by the aforementioned crackpots and greedy authors telling the scared populous that we’ll be driven back into the Stone Age… all because of a small, overlooked flaw in computer programming.

I miss those doomsday scenarios. They were simpler times.

Now we have 2012 conspiracy theorists compounding doomsayer dogma, bending science to suit their hopelessly flawed doomsday scenarios. 2012 seems to be a hothouse for every impossible planet killer we could possibly imagine. How the hell Emmerich is going to work Nibiru, Planet X, killer solar flares, polar reversal, galactic alignment and geomagnetic hoopla into the plot I’ll never know.

Impossibly jumbled plot to one side, I will still want to be one of the first to see this movie. I’ve examined the real science behind the proposed end of the world in 2012 since May 2008, and I can assure you, I have yet to come across one single ounce of Planet X matter. No planet-wide calamity is expected on December 21st, 2012, and there isn’t a single shred of scientific or archaeological evidence that suggests otherwise. It will be interesting to see if Emmerich hired a science advisor, to actually add any credibility to doomsday, but if recent examples are anything to go by, I suspect it’s going to be science-lite.

Unfortunately, I am still saddened by Sony Pictures marketing ploy. The Institute for Human Continuity (IHC) viral campaign was very a successful yet short-sighted idea, marketing the movie like a multi-million dollar advertising campaign, but pandering to the anti-science sentiment that flows through the heart of doomsday hoaxers.

All in all, yes, I’ll watch 2012, but I can guarentee I’ll be shaking my head for the most part. The choice of cast is a warning sign. John Cusack as the flawed dad who’ll save the day? Danny Glover as President?? Woody Harrelson? Woody Harrelson?

There’s a 2012 Doomsday Turkey in my Crop Circle

Wow, look at that title for some keyword stuffing! Stuffing… get it?

Phoenix? Turkey? They're both birds, so it's close enough (M & Y PORTSMOUTH)

Phoenix? Turkey? They're both birds, so it's close enough (M & Y PORTSMOUTH)

The Telegraph: bedrock of traditional journalism, pinnacle of UK news reporting– I’m sorry, I can’t finish that sentence, I’m too busy crying with laughter.

Seriously. I mean, seriously. Sure, everyone needs to remain competitive in this ultra-fast world of social media and transient online traffic, but there’s a lot to be said for keeping your integrity too. In this master stroke of continued patchy reporting from the UK’s Telegraph we have a serious ‘news’ report about a crop circle, that depicts the Phoenix flying from the ashes. Or is it a turkey?

What could this possibly mean? Oh yes, I might have guessed. Obviously it means the world is going to end on December 21st 2012. What a coincidence, those Mayan fellas have been saying the same thing all along. Now we have crop circles? And crop circle enthusiasts telling us it’s the end of the world? Holy crapcakes, doomsday really is coming. I’ve been such a fool.

The saving grace about this article is that it hasn’t been filed under ‘science’, unlike the “Mars Skull” hilarity a few weeks ago. But that’s the article’s only saving grace.

I’d understand if there was a little scepticism in the tone of the report, or perhaps a little light-hearted banter about aliens and their fetish for bending corn, but unfortunately this is an article that jumps to one huge conclusion:

Crop circles = Doomsday

It really is that simple. Reading signs in bent corn has been the fodder for doomsday theorists for as long as there have been doomsday theories and this report does nothing to challenge that. Is it really that hard to find a skeptic/scientist/logical thinker in Wiltshire these days?

I might be missing something here, but where’s the link between these crop circles and doomsday in 2012? That’s right, there isn’t one.

And I’m now certain that crop circle depicts a turkey

Source: Telegraph.co.uk (YES, I know! The sodding TELEGRAPH!)

2012: Not Doomsday, It’s the Last Stand for an Ancient Civilization

maya_cartoon

My good friend, talented writer and co-author Greg Fish, sent me this cartoon last night and I got a giggle out of it, so I thought I’d share. I think it exemplifies just how something so small can be blown completely out of proportion. Although the cartoon depicts two Mayans constructing the “Sun Stone”, it was actually the Aztecs, another mesoamerican culture, who constructed the Sun Stone. But that’s not the point of this article (besides, several doomsayers are clueless about the difference between Mayans and Aztecs anyway).

The Mayans built a calendar so they could better organize their time, document historical events and enable them to make plans for the future (like any good calendar does). So, out of necessity, the Mayans put together an amazingly complex system of embedded calendars of various lengths. They came up with an innovative idea so they didn’t have to rely on short-term cyclical calendars (the longest was only 52 years), they created one of the first number-based calendars devised:

The Mayans had a solution. Using an innovative method, they were able to expand on the 52 year Calendar Round. Up to this point, the Mayan Calendar may have sounded a little archaic – after all, it was possibly based on religious belief, the menstrual cycle, mathematical calculations using the numbers 13 and 20 as the base units and a heavy mix of astrological myth. The only principal correlation with the modern calendar is the Haab’ that recognised there were 365 days in one solar year (it’s not clear whether the Mayans accounted for leap years). The answer to a longer calendar could be found in the “Long Count”, a calendar lasting 5126 years.” — Me, “No Doomsday in 2012“, Universe Today, May 19th, 2008 (there’s nothing quite like pimping your own megahit articles!)

Palenque Museum Mayan glyphs (wyattsailing.com)

Palenque Museum Mayan glyphs (wyattsailing.com)

So, the Mayans created a number system that lasted 5126 years. Judging by their love of cycling calendars that reset after 260 days (Tzolk’in calendar), 365 days (Haab’) and 52 years (Calendar Round), isn’t it logical to assume the Long Count calendar was designed to do the same thing? And why didn’t the Mayans explicitly say: “the Long Count will cycle again after 5126 years“? That’s because they were still in their first cycle. And within this first cycle, their entire civilization rose and and crashed back down again. They never got the chance to experience one whole cycle, resetting the Long Count or, indeed, simply extending it.

In short, the world isn’t going to end in 2012 (the coincidental end-date of the Mayan Long Count calendar), it’s the last stand of an ancient culture.

It’s actually rather sad; assuming the historians are correct, and the Long Count does end on December 21st, 2012, that is the final end date for an entire civilization. Although their cities may have crumbled and civilization faded into the history books, at least the Mayans had a calendar that endured hundreds of years after their downfall. The Mayan Long Count calendar outlived a civilization, perhaps December 21st, 2012, should be a celebration of a lost mesoamerican race, as this date will truly be the end of ancient Maya.

For more about the myths, lies and deception surrounding 2012, check out my “No Doomsday in 2012″ articles »

Every Reason Not To Worry About Doomsday In 2012

Image credits: Harold Edgerton (1964), NASA. Edit: Ian O'Neill

In today’s 365 Days of Astronomy, Cameron Hummels and Josh Schroeder from Columbia University, New York, discuss the 2012 doomsday hype. And it is awesome. The special thing about this podcast is that Cameron (who is working toward a PhD in astronomy) is clear, concise, and makes the whole crackpot 2012 doomsday scenario sound as petty as it really is.

In 10 minutes, the pair run through ancient prophecy, Mayan calendars, Planet X, galactic alignment and solar flares (to name a few) and carry out possibly one of the most comprehensive debunking efforts I have ever heard. They pretty much summed up all of my “No Doomsday in 2012″ articles with a huge helping of skeptical thinking, plus extras, pointing out that all the doomsday hype is driven by little more than a small group of irresponsible individuals wanting to make some fast money from people’s fear.

Congratulations Cameron Hummels and Josh Schroeder, you’ve just scored one huge point for rational thinking and produced a wonderful celebration of scientific endeavour!

Go to the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast page to listen in »

Show description:

An increasing number of people believe that December 21, 2012 will mark the end of the world. Proponents of this idea cite diverse astronomical reasons for an imminent apocalypse: the end of the Mayan long-count calendar; an alignment between the Solar System and the Milky Way; the solar sunspot cycle reaching an all-time high; the reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field; and a devastating collision with ‘Planet X’. Tune in to hear to the facts and controversy surrounding this purported impending disaster.

2012 Is Coming… And All I Got Was This Lousy Fridge Magnet

Screenshot from the Flash animation "The End of the World" by Fluid

Just when I was getting bored of the endless stream of 2012 doomsday hype (tripe), my interest was suddenly reinvigorated when I saw this advertisement:

2012 Calendar Magnet

$2.99 + shipping

Our calendar magnet is a real 2012 calendar. So you can have it on the refrigerator for 3 1/2 years! The calendar magnet is 4.25 inches wide and 5.5 inches long. It is also very clear and easy to read (looks better than the picture above, but is smaller). The shipping cost within the U.S. is $0.79 and for International orders $1.89.

No way. Oh yes. Yes, they did! The most well-known 2012 protagonist website is selling doomsday fridge magnets depicting an Earth plus comet barrelling towards it.

I had to triple-check, just in case this was the doomsday blogging equivalent to Punk’d. No, this is real: fridge magnets.
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Where is Planet X? Where is Nemesis?

Artists impression of the hypothetical star, Nemesis (Anynobody on Wikipedia)

Before Pluto was discovered, the world’s astronomers were captivated by the possibility of finding another massive planet beyond the orbit of Neptune. In 1930, Pluto was discovered lurking in what was considered to be the edge of the Solar System. However, it quickly became apparent that Pluto was tiny; it wasn’t the Planet X we were looking for. For the last 80 years, astronomers have been looking for a large planet that might go to some way of explaining interplanetary features such as the “Kuiper Cliff”, but Planet X has not been found. Unfortunately, the word “Planet X” has now become synonymous with conspiracy theories and doomsday, almost as notorious as the word “Nemesis”.

Nemesis is another unanswered question hanging over Solar System evolution: does the Sun have a binary twin? Is there a second, dim, hidden “sun” stalking it’s brighter counterpart from over a light year away? Some scientists have come forward to suggest that the existence of a hypothetical second sun — embodied as a brown dwarf or red dwarf — could explain some cyclical effects here on Earth (i.e. mass extinctions occurring with a strange regularity). Naturally, the discussion about Nemesis (like the discussion about the possibility of a massive Planet X) is purely academic, and only based on indirect observations and anecdotal evidence. Just because they might exist, doesn’t mean they do.

In a publication recently published to the arXiv database, one Italian researcher has dusted off this topic and asked a very basic question: Can we constrain the possible locations of Nemesis and/or Planet X if they did exist? His results are fascinating…
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