2012 – the Errant Comet and/or Black Hole and/or Big Meteor Impact… NOT

I was pleased to see the movie “2012” did not mention any of these scenarios. There have already been movies about these disaster scenarios before: “Meteor”, “Comet”, “Impact”, “Doomsday”, or whatever they were called.

And I group these theories together because they all have one thing in common: something large and dangerous saying “hello” to our world in a very intimate and ugly fashion.

Among the Doomsday theories about the End-Date is one about an errant or rogue comet which is going to crash into our planet and bring about major destruction.

Well, that might have been a possibility when it was first introduced several years ago, but by today we would be able to have already seen such a comet heading for us. Even the Hale-Bopp Comet of a decade ago is still being tracked by astronomers as it pulls further away from us.

So, anything heading our way of any appreciable size would have already been spotted in the sky.

Of course, there might be a comet made of “dark matter” or a “black hole” or some other substance that keeps it from our vision, like “fairy dust” or an extra-dimensional force field, in which case there could still be a comet headed for us. But it seems highly unlikely at this late date.

Calendar, but that scenario can be scratched off the list of suspects, I’m afraid.

There is one theory you do not see around much. I don’t know why, because I thought “black holes” were the current darling of the cosmological world view. Of course, no one has yet actually FOUND one of the hypothetical things, regardless of how often their discovery is mentioned in the press. (The claim is usually withdrawn with much less fanfare.)

The problem, of course, lies in the theory from which it was derived: Relativity. And that is still just a theory. It hypothesized that a small star, when it died, would collapse to become a brown dwarf. No stretch this, as brown dwarves were already known. A larger star, say on the order of the size of Arcturus, would collapse on death to become a neutron star – so tightly collapsed would be the atoms, that only neutrons would escape.

When no neutron star was found, they decided pulsars could be adapted to conform to the theory. Surely, they told us, this was really what the theory was talking about. (I have heard, recently, that a few neutron stars have actually been found. Wow!) Undeterred, they started looking for black holes. First theorized in 1783, none has been found so far. It does not mean that none will ever be found nor does it mean they do not exist. And, after all, anything is possible – within scientific limits, of course.

Unlike comets and other such bodies, we would not be able to see it coming. One assumes that you would see effects of its approach as it sucked up everything around it.

At present, we have not seen anything disappearing around us so I can assume that no black hole is heading for a 2012 rendezvous with us.

Whew! We dodged another bullet.

For now.

Unlike the comet and black hole scenarios mentioned above, the meteor theory actually has some possibilities.

Because of the gigantic scale on which comets and black holes would have to move and the length of time involved in their movements (which we would see years in advance) large rocks, asteroids, meteors and the like can “slip in under our radar”.

Their size alone makes them dangerous. Most of the streaks we see in the nighttime skies range from the size of sand to small gravel. Occasionally something slightly larger enters the atmosphere and makes an amazing streak across the sky.

But a world-damaging rock would have to be a bit larger than that. Something a half-mile across could do some serious damage. And we might not even see it until it was too late to do anything about it except say our last goodbyes.

We might have only a few days (or a few hours) to prepare for the end.

The one problem with this scenario is how the Mayan Calendar could predict such an event? Certainly they could have had portents, prophecies about it coming but why go to the problem of evolving a very sophisticated calendrical system to pinpoint the fatal day?

Why not just create a countdown to oblivion? Why involve the cycles of Venus and the other planets?

It seems to me they put in too much work on their calendar for such an eventuality.

So, I am afraid the Maya meant something else and we’ll have to look further…

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