Doughnuts vs. THE END OF THE WORLD

Seth Jarvis

I’m betting doughnuts against the world ending in 2012.

Any takers?

The “2012″ disaster-pic opens Friday, and some folks are actually asking, “Is the world really going to end in 2012? Will the Earth’s magnetic field really reverse?  Is there really a planet Nibiru headed toward us? Is it all tied to the Mayan calendar?”

The short answer to all these questions is “no.”

Here’s how sure I am of that. If Earth’s magnetic field reverses and compass arrows begin pointing south instead of north by December 21, 2012 then I’ll buy you a dozen really good doughnuts  - provided that there are any bakeries still open in the post-apocalyptic  world envisioned by the folks claiming that life as we know it comes to an end on December 21st, 2012.

If Earth's magnetic polarity reverses in 2012 - the doghnuts are on me.

If Earth’s magnetic polarity reverses in 2012 then the doughnuts are on me.

Here at Clark Planetarium we settle differences of opinion with a three-step, tried-and-true problem-solving process:

First, competing opinions are required to make falsifiable predictions.   An example of a falsifiable prediction is, “Earth’s magnetic field will reverse polarity in 2012.”  An example of a non-falsifiable prediction is, “Something unusual will happen in the world in 2012.”  Get the difference? One prediction is specific and you can test it, the other is vague and impossible to test.

Next, we find a way to test the prediction.  In this case it’ll involve watching compass needles in 2012.

Finally, if the prediction is proven wrong then the person who made that prediction brings doughnuts to the next staff meeting.

Why am I willing to bet doughnuts on this?

Because while it is true that Earth’s magnetic poles have reversed polarity many times in Earth’s past, and doubtless will again many times in Earth’s future, it takes a minimum of several thousand years to accomplish a polarity reversal.

If you take this wager and the magnetic poles don’t reverse in 2012 then you owe me a dozen really good doughnuts.

I’m not only willing to wager fresh doughnuts against Earth’s magnetic field reversing in 2012, I’m also extending a “doughnut bet” challenge for all the other “the world ends in 2012!” predictions.

Specifically, I’m betting a dozen fresh, frosting-with-sprinkles doughnuts that in 2012:

#1.  No Center-of-the Galaxy Alignment. The Sun is no better-aligned with the center of the galaxy on December 21st than it has been at any time in the past several hundred years or will be any time in the next several hundred years.  On 12/21/12 the Sun will be more than six degrees (twelve times the diameter of the full moon) from the galactic center. That’s not much of an alignment.

The Sun will not align between us and the Galactic Center in 2012.  Even if it did, nothing would happen.

The Sun will not align between us and the Galactic Center in 2012. Even if it did, nothing would happen.

More to the point, the center of our galaxy is two billion times farther from the Sun than the Sun is from Earth.

This is exactly like worrying about whether these two asterisks ** here in Salt Lake City ever “align” with Sydney, Australia when I move my computer monitor around. If there is anything the center of the galaxy can do to our solar system, it’s already doing it, whether it’s December 12st or the 4th of July. Galactic “alignments” are irrelevant.

#2. No mystery planet, whether it’s called “Nibiru” or by any other name, wanders through our solar system disrupting orbits and generally wreaking havoc in 2012.  How do we know this?  Because if such a large planet or Brown Dwarf star really did orbit our Sun every 3,600 years, as some imaginative folks are claiming,  then 3,600 years ago the passage of this object through the inner solar system would have been devastating and tremendously noteworthy.  There was plenty of history being recorded in 1,600 B.C.E., and the complete absence of records describing something as phenomenal as Nibiru is compelling evidence that Nibiru exists solely in the imagination. Plus, so large a planet or Brown Dwarf star would have been the #1 target of thousands of professional astronomers worldwide for the past 50 years, and the #1 target of millions of amateur astronomers for at least the past decade.

The only way to see Nibiru is with your imagination (and maybe Photoshop).

The only way to see “Nibiru” is with your imagination (and maybe Photoshop).

#3.  The Mayan Calendar is interesting, but not a big deal. The resetting of the Mayan “Long Count” (144,000 days) calendar on 12/21/2012 will have the exact same impact on human behavior that the calendar that we use has when it “resets” to January 1st every year.  There will be parties, and then we’ll go on with their lives.

The Mayan "Long Count" Calendar resets every 144,000 days, just as our calendar "resets" every December 31st.

The Mayan “Long Count” Calendar resets every 144,000 days, just as our calendar “resets” every 365 days.

Any takers on the doughnut bet?

Mmmmm… science.  It not only works, it’s also delicious with a fresh cup of coffee.

And, yes, I’m planning to see the movie.  I love a good disaster flick.

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13 thoughts on “Doughnuts vs. THE END OF THE WORLD

  1. I absolutely agree with you, with the exception that Sidney is in Australia NOT in Austria !

  2. I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying out layout!

    We are using WordPress as the blog software for our site. We worked closely with our advertising agency, Riester, to develop the design. If you have specific questions, let me know and I’ll try to help out.

  3. I’d like to believe you, except the fact that the Planet Nibiru theory seems to have some merit to it. I believe the Sumerians named it that after one of their gods. However, they believed earth was created in a collision with another planet. If I understand correctly, the fact that all landmass was once collected during the Pangea period could point in that direction? Also, why did NASA themselves go looking for Planet X (hence the name), in 1983? I have also heard that the orbits of Uranus and Neptune diverge from their natural orbit. Could this be explained by the presence of unknown objects?

  4. A good discussion of the “Nibiru” phenomenon and why it has no basis in reality can be found on Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nibiru_collision

    The main thing to remember is that for any Nibiru 2012 doomsday scenario to have any basis in truth it would have to have been profoundly visible (i.e., MUCH brighter than Venus and moving very rapidly among the background stars) in the night sky in about 1,600 B.C.E., yet no records of such a completely noteworthy planetary interloper exist, even though there is no shortage of astronomical observations surviving from that time in our history.

    Also, if some large world was only two years away from wreaking havoc in our solar neighborhood, it would be easily visible today by countless amateur astronomers – which it is not. Astronomers, both amateur and professional, are scouring the heavens with increasingly sophisticated instruments. They’re finding lots of interesting things such as asteroids and comets, but they’re not finding a planet-sized world headed for the inner solar system.

    But if you want to bet donuts on it, my offer stands.

  5. The alignment of the sun in the center of the galaxy is a “virtual” alignment. It’s an ‘as seen from Earth’ if you will. Physically, the sun is billions of miles from the center. Please do not joke of this event, because I know many people will take their own lives in fear of suffering whatever happens.

  6. When you say “Physically, the sun is billions of miles from the center,” that’s a huge understatement.

    The Sun is on average a mere 93,000,000 miles from Earth. At the speed of light that’s a journey of a little more than eight minutes.

    The distance from the Sun to the center of our Milky Way Galaxy is something like 200,000,000,000,000,000 miles, and at the speed of light that’s a journey of nearly 30,000 years.

    Eight minutes to the Sun vs. 30,000 years to the center of the galaxy.

    Again, that’s like worrying about whether these two asterisks…

    **

    …are aligned with Sydney, Australia.

    Seriously – if you shrunk the universe so that the Earth-Sun distance is represented by the space between those asterisks, then at this scale the distance from Salt Lake City to Sydney represents the distance between our solar system and the center of the galaxy.

    If there is a force eminating from the-land-down-under aimed at Salt Lake City, the “alignment” of one asterisk with the other at this distance is not remotely worth worrying about.

    I’m calling attention to the silliness of the 2012 end-of-the-world predictions precisely because I know that somewhere in the world someone is genuinely wondering if “Doomsday 2012″ is real and looking for some accurate, understandable information on the subject.

    Not all of the 2012 predictions involve astronomy, but many of them do and offer scientifically testable claims. Clark Planetarium is therefore a logical source for scientifically accurate informaion on this subject. When people make goofy claims that are scientifically testable, the best thing we can do is put those claims to the test. When the tests prove that the claims are indeed goofy, it’s healthy and helpful to chuckle about them and treat the experience as an opportunity to teach a little basic science.

    With this blog I want to give people an opportunity to learn about the 2012 predictions, examine the testable claims the 2012 doomsayers are making, and laugh along with me at how completely disconnected from reality these end-of-the-world predictions are.

  7. If you are refuting the 2012 predictions, no doubt you have read or heard of Greg Braden’s books. I recall reading his assertion that the rate of shift of the earth’s magnetic poles may not proceed at a steady rate, but instead accelerate at an exponential rate. Is there evidence in the geologic record one way or the other?

  8. Harlan,

    From what I can tell of Gregg Braden’s works, he’s a New Age/Spiritualsim author. I don’t personally put much stock in the science claims made by books in that category.

    What you’re asking about is referred to as Paleomagnetism. For a succinct description of geomagnetic field reversals and the speed with which they occur, there’s a nice article on Wikipedia about it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_polarity_reversal

    In a nutshell – magnetic field reversals are normal and have happened many times in Earth’s history. While it is true that Earth’s magnetic field is smaller now than it was a few thousand years ago, the rate of change is _not_ exponential, and there is no evidence that Earth’s magnetic field is in any danger of going to zero any time soon – and certainly not by the end of next year.

  9. your only betting donuts due to the fact that they are cheap, and so is your research.
    sorry, but true.
    the only source you have quoted is wikipedia, which is a good reference, yet not a reliable source in any way.
    you have no basis for your hypothesis and have yet to do some real research.
    if you care to look in other places besides wikipedia, you can try to find out why almost every ancient culture in our history has an event all happening on the exact same date!

    Cultures:
    Hopi Predict a 25yr period of purification followed by End of Fourth World and beginning of the Fifth.
    Mayans Call it the ‘end days’ or the end of time as we know it.
    Maoris Say that as the veils dissolve there will be a merging of the physical & spiritual worlds.
    Zulu Believe that the whole world will be turned upside down.
    Hindus Kali Yuga (end time of man). The Coming of Kalki & critical mass of Enlightened Ones.
    Incas Call it the ‘Age of Meeting Ourselves Again’.
    Aztec Call this the Time of the Sixth Sun. A time of transformation. Creation of new race.
    Dogon Say that the spaceship of the visitors, the Nommo, will return in the form of a blue star
    Pueblo Acknowledge it’ll be the emergence into the Fifth World
    Cherokee Their ancient calendar ends exactly at 2012 as does the Mayan calendar.
    Tibetan Kalachakra teachings are prophesies left by Buddha predicting Coming of the Golden Age.
    Egypt According to the Great Pyramid (stone calendar), present time cycle ends in year 2012 AD

    so, after you do some research and you start opening your eyes, you can view the real truth about what is about to happen from NASA itself.
    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/04jun_swef/

    they have known about this for quite some time!
    its just a shame that people dont dig harder for the truth before they start spouting nonsense.
    BTW… i like bavarian creme ;-)

  10. OK, let’s treat this as a “teachable moment” to talk about how science does, and does not, work.

    Merely asserting that my criticism of the 2012 Doomsday phenomenon is wrong does not make it wrong. What, specifically, did I write in my original post that was factually wrong?

    The Wikipedia article on the “2012 Phenomenon” is in fact chock-full of well-written and very well-documented factual information on the various 2012 doomsday scenarios. I recommend it to anyone seeking a solid, reality-based education on the subject.

    Carl Sagan famously noted that “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” The claim that Earth will experience some sort of cosmic upheaval in late 2012 is clearly extraordinary. In my original blog post I point out that such claims fly in the face of substantial contradictory evidence, and are themselves not supported by even ordinary evidence, let alone extraordinary proofs.

    People who are skeptical of tales of a 2012 doomsday are not required to disprove every 2012 doomsday scenario. It is impossible to prove a negative. (e.g., “Prove the world won’t end in 2012.”) In science, the burden of proof always rests with the person making a positive assertion (in this case, “A world-changing cosmic upheaval will occur in December 2012″).

    Where is there objective, testable evidence to support claims about 2012?

    Not a single one of the claims 2012 Doomsday proponents make about ancient cultures making predictions about cosmic upheaval in 2012 is supported by any kind of relevant, objective and testable evidence. Not a single one.

    What is asserted without evidence deserves to be dismissed without evidence.

    On the subject of what passes for evidence – New Age/Mystic web sites, equally devoid of specific testable evidence, don’t count. Nor does citing a NASA web page about the natural, cyclical nature of sunspots that is completely unrelated to 2012. There is absolutely nothing special about the upcoming Solar Maximum. In fact, all evidence to date points to the 2013 Solar Maximum being weaker than usual.

    Predicting “The End of the World as We Know It” has been a part of human culture since people were capable of contemplating their own mortality. The current batch of 2012 Doomsday predictions are just one more lap around an all-too familiar track that humanity has already run many, many times.

    My wager still stands – if any of the specific claims made by 2012 Doomsday proponents occur then I’ll cheerfully admit to being wrong and the donuts are on me.

    If, however, the magnetic poles do not reverse, and Nibiru is a no-show and asteroids do not rain down, etc., and the Sun rises on January 1, 2013 above a world still plugging along with the same combination of opportunities and problems it had a year earlier, then I expect to see the donuts here.

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