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Apocalypse 2012: A Scientific Investigation into Civilization's End

Apocalypse 2012: A Scientific Investigation into Civilization's End

3.4 42
by Lawrence E. Joseph

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“Updated to include dramatic new evidence from NASA and the National Academy of Sciences pointing to a knockout of the electrical power grid by solar systems expected to climax in 2012-2013.”

Don’t look up! It won’t help. You can’t get out of the way, you can’t dig a hole deep enough to hide. The end is coming, and


“Updated to include dramatic new evidence from NASA and the National Academy of Sciences pointing to a knockout of the electrical power grid by solar systems expected to climax in 2012-2013.”

Don’t look up! It won’t help. You can’t get out of the way, you can’t dig a hole deep enough to hide. The end is coming, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

So why read this book? Because you can’t look away when not just the religious fanatics are saying we’re all going to be destroyed but the scientists are in on the act too. Here’s what they’re saying: We’re a million years over due for a mass extinction.

The sun at radiation minimum is acting much worse than at solar maximum, and one misdirected spewing of plasma could fry us in an instant. The magnetic field—which shields us from harmful radiation—is developing a mysterious crack.

Our solar system is entering an energetically hostile part of the galaxy.

The Yellowstone supervolcano is getting ready to blow, and if it does, we can look forward to nuclear winter and 90 percent annihilation.

The Maya, the world’s greatest timekeepers ever, say it’s all going to stop on December 21, 2012.

So, see? There’s nothing you can do, but you might as well sit back and enjoy the show.

You’ll get a good chuckle. That’s why you should read this book.

Editorial Reviews

Don't look now, but it's almost over: According to science consultant Lawrence E. Joseph, Planet Earth is cruising towards a bruising. Citing a convergence of ancient calculations, prophecies, and cutting-edge scientific theories, he pinpoints a global disaster date that's right around the corner. Author Joseph isn't the only one who is worried: NASA scientists, seismologists, volcanologists, paleontologists, geologists, meteorologists, and astronomers are also quaking in their boots. And those Mayan shamans are none too confident about our prospects, either. So our advice is, buy this book and run for the hills.
Publishers Weekly
In New Age circles, the idea that some sort of world-spanning cataclysmic event will take place in December 2012 has been gaining traction for years, thanks largely to the calculations of ancient Mayan astronomers who pegged that moment as the end of a cycle of eons. Joseph uses that prophecy as a starting point, but claims that his interest lies in more substantial scientific threats to the planet-including cracks in Earth's magnetic field, the eruption of supervolcanoes and flareups of sunspot radiation. On the other hand, he also gives credence to planetary alignments and The Bible Code before veering into a rant about how the real problem is Christian fundamentalists who want to manipulate the Middle East into Armageddon. When he sticks to science journalism, Joseph is a lively tour guide, introducing readers to Mayan shamans and Russian scientists with equal aplomb. But when he encourages readers to start praying they survive the coming apocalypse, he comes off as exactly the sort of crackpot he claims to eschew. Still, there's less kookery than in other 2012 books, making Joseph a reasonably straightforward guide to the theory. (Jan. 23) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Two hours’ tromp through the tarantula/crocodile jungle where a recent Survivor series was set, past an ancient Mayan ball court where both losers and winners were sacrificed (that certainly would have boosted Survivors ratings) and then a steamy clamber up the hundred steep and crumbling steps of the 1,800–year–old ruin known as the Great Pyramid, the centerpiece of Mundo Perdido (Lost World), the oldest section of the Tikal ruins, was rewarded with the following: “The problem has got to be with your server. Call tech support and tell them to reconfigure… ,” explained one twenty–something to the other.

Rip out their beating hearts, toss their lifeless carcasses down the stone steps, and chalk it all up as a human sacrifice to Bill Gates. Deep in the Guatemalan jungle, atop an ancient sacred temple, and these geeks still couldn’t get their minds out of their computers.

I had gone to Tikal, where some of the most ancient Mayan prophecies originated, to get a feel for what, up until then, was just a mass of factoids—for example, that in the Mayan calendar the current age, known as the Fourth Age, began on August 13, 3114 BCE, which in the Mayan calendar is represented as (Day One) and will end on December 21, 2012 ce, or (Day Last). I could repeat that fact and many others accurately enough but, like twelfth–grade calculus (the derivative of n cubed is 3n squared, but what is a derivative, exactly?), I didn’t really understand what I was saying.

The problem was calendars, to me a blah staple of contemporary existence. Navigating life without them would of course be unthinkable, but that’s not going to happen, so why think about it? Apparently there once was a dispute between popes about how many days February and August should have, but that’s all been settled for half a millennium. And at the stroke of midnight beginning 2006, the official atomic clock–keeper somewhere added a second for the first time since 1999 because the Earth’s rotation is being slowed by the moon’s increasing gravitational pull, which might be an interesting development if we had enough time in our busy lives to figure out why.

Fundamentalists insist that it’s all in whatever their holy book might happen to be, but my visit to Mayan Guatemala was the first time I’ve ever been told that it's all not in their book but in their calendar, which is all I would ever need. The Maya love their calendars, see them as visual depictions of the passage of time, which is how life unfolds. They charted this unfolding with not one but twenty calendars, only fifteen of which have been released to the modern world; the remaining five are still kept secret by Mayan elders. Mayan calendars are pegged to the movements of the Sun, the Moon, and the visible planets, to harvest and insect cycles, and range in length from 260 days to 5,200 years and beyond.

In the Cholqij, the 260–day calendar that represents a woman’s pregnancy cycle, and also the number of days that the planet Venus rises in the morning each year, each day is represented by one of 20 symbols representing spiritual guides or deities, called Ajau. The number 20 is sacred to the Mayans because a person has 20 digits—10 fingers to reach to the sky and 10 toes to grasp the ground. They regard the number 10, so significant to our mathematics, as half a loaf at best.

According to Gerardo Kanek Barrios and Mercedes Barrios Longfellow in The Maya Cholqij: Gateway to Aligning with the Energies of the Earth, 2005, thirteen forces influence the 20 Ajau deities. The number 13 is derived from the fact that there are 13 major joints (1 neck, 2 shoulders, 2 elbows, 2 wrists, 2 hips, 2 knees and 2 ankles), which serve as nodal points of bodily and cosmic energy. Thirteen forces times 20 deities equals 260 uniquely specified days.

The Mayan prophecies for 2012 are the province of the Long Count calendar, also known as Winaq May Kin, which covers approximately 5,200 solar years, a period the Maya call a Sun. In the curious Mayan reckoning, a year has 360 days; the remaining 5.25 days (4 x .25 accounting for the leap day) are considered “out of time” and are traditionally devoted to thanksgiving for the previous year and celebration of the year to come. Thus 5,200 of these Mayan years translate to approximately 5,125 of our Gregorian years. Since human civilization arose, we have passed fully through three Suns, and now are completing the fourth Sun, which will end on 12/21/12.

The Mayan counting system is primarily vigesimal, meaning that it relies on powers of 20, rather than 10. In this system the first placeholder (the one farthest to the right) is reserved for units of one day; the second for units of 20 days; the third for units of 360 days, or one Mayan solar year; the fourth for units of 7,200 days, or twenty Mayan solar years; and the fifth for units of 144,000 days, or 400 Mayan solar years. Interestingly, the number 144,000 figures prominently in Revelation, though it refers to the number of people who will be saved and serve the Lord during the Tribulation, the period of tumult that precedes the Second Coming of Christ.

In, the Mayan way of expressing the 12/21/12 date, the number 13 refers to the number of baktuns, periods of 400 Mayan solar years/144,000-day periods. The number 13, as noted, is sacred in their cosmology. One Sun works out to be 13 times 144,000 days, or 1,872,000 days long, 5,200 of the 360–day Mayan solar years. On the day after a Sun is completed, the Long Count calendar starts all over. Thus, December 22, 2012, the day after apocalypse, if such a day does come, will once again be the Mayan date,


How did these people become so time–obsessed, out in the jungles and the highlands? It’s not like the ancient Maya were catching planes or texting messages or even traveling anywhere.

“At first glance it might seem an exaggeration to attach so much importance to the sacred [Mayan] calendar. Yet anyone familiar with its role in the life of pre–Columbian Mesoamerica realizes that bound up with the calendar are many if not all of the more sophisticated aspects of the region’s early intellectual life: the awareness of a cyclicity in the movement of celestial bodies, the evolution of mathematical skills by which they could manipulate the numbers derived from those cycles, and the development of a system of hieroglyphics for recording the results…with it must have come most of the trappings of civilization—astronomy, mathematics, writing, urban planning,” writes Vincent H. Malmstrom of Dartmouth College.

We all know intuitively that time occurs in both lines, as though arrows were being shot, and cycles. Time’s arrow refers to the simple fact that each minute follows the next in a straight line to infinity, or until Time ends altogether. Time’s cycle refers to eternal continuums, such as day and night, winter, spring, summer, and fall, the waxing and waning of the Moon. Time’s cycles and arrows can also be seen as reflecting different attitudes toward history: “those who ignore it are doomed to repeat it” (cycle) versus “yesterday's news” (arrow). I’d always tended toward the latter camp, that history, though it made for good stories, was past. But after separating from my wife at roughly the same age, and with more or less the same height, weight, and features as my father did when he was separated from my mother, the “doomed to repeat it” scenario did ring a bell.

Cultures tend to have predilections for either arrow or cycle. Contemporary postindustrial Western society certainly emphasizes the arrowlike onrush of time, passing faster and faster, blinking and beeping on watches, microwave ovens, cell phones, and turnstiles. An arrow–affinity speaks to a society’s orientation toward change and progress, though sometimes to the point of ignoring recurrent, eternal values. This imbalance may well have resulted from our shift away from an agriculturally based economy, which of course is finely attuned to seasonal cycles, and toward industrial and informational production, which are less dependent on such natural rhythms.

The Maya were and are a cycle society. They see cycles in everything, and they love what they see. Progress is not nearly as important in their cosmic ethos as the serenity that comes from being in harmony with the eternal movements of Nature. The downside of course is that, being fixated on eternal cycles, the Maya might not notice the day–to–day changes occurring around them, a disregard that helps explain why, as many historians have noted, classic Mayan society degenerated and collapsed abruptly, without their ever having taken heed of the warning signs. Theories range from voluntary disengagement, meaning that the Mayans simply abandoned their cities and much of their lifestyle for (occult) reasons of their own, to internecine strife, to claims that the civilization never really fell so much as went underground.

The current scholarly bet is that environmental degradation did them in. Indeed, Jared Diamond's recent book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, depicts the ancient Maya as the case study of what societies ought not to do to the local environment. Diamond methodically presses the argument that the Mayans overfarmed, deforested, and overpopulated their land. A 2004 NASA study confirms Diamond’s condemnation. Pollen trapped in sediments taken from the area right around Tikal, dating back approximately 1,200 years, just before the Mayan civilization’s collapse, indicates that trees had almost completely disappeared, replaced by weeds.

Diamond believes that the population density of the Classic Mayan civilization reached 1,500 persons per square mile. That’s double the current density, for example, of Rwanda and Burundi, two of the most crowded and troubled nations in Africa. Warfare over scarce resources inevitably broke out, leading to a complete societal collapse—a peak population of between 5 million and 14 million in 800 ce tumbled 80 or 90 percent in less than a century.

“We have to wonder why the kings and nobles failed to recognize and solve these seemingly obvious problems undermining their society. Their attention was evidently focused on their short-term concerns of enriching themselves, waging wars, erecting monuments, competing with each other, and extracting enough food from the peasants to support these activities. Like most leaders throughout human history, the Maya kings and nobles did not heed long-term problems, insofar as they perceived them,” writes Diamond.

The Mayan fall in power, prosperity, and population is quite possibly the most drastic any civilization has ever experienced. Does this invalidate their wisdom? It certainly doesn’t recommend it, except possibly in the area of catastrophe, which historically they know better than just about anyone else.


Righteous indignation was still pumping my brain when it dawned on me that the exchange between those two computer nerds on top of the Tikal pyramid probably wasn’t far off in spirit from the conversations that took place there originally. That very pyramid, in fact, was built specifically for astronomers to chart the heavens and keep track of celestial time.

Imagine two ancient Mayan astronomers, an elder and a younger, arguing about the stars on the eve of the vernal equinox. The elder observes that Polaris, the pole star of the Northern Hemisphere, is not in the same position it was on the vernal equinox thirty–six years ago, when he first started his observations. Over that time, Polaris has shifted in a westward direction, the elder declares, about the same distance as the width of the full Moon (roughly half a degree).

The younger astronomer recoils from the heresy. From time immemorial, an article of celestial faith is that, on any given day and date, the stars are supposed to be in exactly the same position from one year to the next. To say otherwise would mean that the great heavenly clock is not keeping perfect time.

Eventually the truth won out, and the elder’s discovery was incorporated into the Mayan cosmology. Perhaps as long as two and a half millennia ago, their ancient astronomers sussed out the astonishing fact that slowly, inexorably, the heavens crank westward at the rate of about 1 degree every 72 years, and complete a full circle every 26,000 Mayan solar years, a period equal to five Suns. The next five Suns would see the polestar change from Polaris, also known as the North Star, to Vega, and then back again.

As we’ve been reminded over and over again since Copernicus, it’s not the heavens but the Earth that moves. In fact the Earth spins like a top on its axis. Watch a top spin, and you will note that its axis slowly describes its own tiny circle. That process is called precession and is entirely analogous to what we perceive as the rotation of the heavens in the sky.

Precession seems to have been discovered more or less simultaneously by a variety of different cultures. Traditionally, credit for first understanding that the heavens are in fact a giant clock that takes eons to move around goes to Hipparchus, an ancient Greek astronomer who lived in the second century bce. However, it now seems likely that the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, and Sumerians had earlier grasped the concept.

Persian and Indian astronomers also knew of precession, perhaps via the ancient Greeks, and were so impressed with the fact that the heavens move ever so slowly in an incredibly huge circle that they attributed it all to a deity, Mithra. During the sixth century bce, Mithraism spread rapidly throughout India, the Middle East, and Europe. At its peak in the second century ce, Mithraism was more widely embraced than Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. Its central doctrine sprang from the sacrifice of a sacred bull, from whose body all goodness sprang. Although Mithraism virtually vanished in the third century ce, with Islam eventually taking over in Persia later on, the Persian New Year is still celebrated on the vernal equinox, usually March 20, a festive holdover from Mithraic days.

Long–term cycles in the Earth’s orbit and spin have more than cosmetic importance, according to Milutin Milankovitch, the brilliant Serbian astronomer. He examined three cycles, now known as the Milankovitch cycles, for their potential impacts on climate and catastrophe on Earth. The first cycle, known as eccentricity, simply accounts for the fact that the shape of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun changes from being almost perfectly circular to slightly more elliptical, over a cycle that lasts from 90,000 to 100,000 years. Right now we are at the most circular stage in that cycle, meaning that there’s only about a 3 percent variation in distance, and a 6 percent variation in received solar energy, between perihelion, the point where our planet is closest to the Sun, and aphelion, the point where our planet is farthest from the Sun. However, as the Earth’s eccentricity cycle proceeds toward the point at which our orbit is most elliptical, the amount of solar radiation our planet receives at perihelion will be 20 to 30 percent greater than at aphelion. This will make for sharper seasonal contrasts and profound climate change. Milankovitch and his followers believe that previous ice ages are largely attributable to the Earth’s eccentricity cycle.

Currently, perihelion occurs during the second week of January, shortly after the Northern Hemisphere’s winter solstice. This works out nicely, at least for those of us in the northern half of the world, because we are getting that extra 6 percent boost of solar energy right in the dead of winter. This cozy situation won’t last forever, Milankovitch observed. As the north polestar shifts from Polaris to Vega, the orientation of the Earth toward the Sun also changes, to a situation where perihelion will come during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer solstice, meaning that we’ll be getting our energy boost right in the dead of summer. And by then, 13,000 years from now, that energy boost will be two or three times as powerful as the boost we get today, because the Earth’s orbit will have become more elliptical, making for greater differences between the amounts of solar radiation received at different points of the year. All in all, the Northern Hemisphere’s summers will be hotter, and the winters, colder, making Southern Hemisphere real estate a good long–term buy.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Lawrence E. Joseph is chairman of the board of New Mexico–based Aerospace Consulting Corporation. He is the author of several books and has written for a a number of major newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, Salon.com, Family Circle, Audubon, and Discover.

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Apocalypse 2012: A Scientific Investigation into Civilization's End 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr. Joseph does not bore us with mind-numbing statistics of science that most of us don't understand anyway. He gets to the point, quickly gives us the salient details, then continues on his journey. Along the way, he throws in personal antecdotes which we can all relate to. I enjoy tight writing and he has done it superbly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book and it very well explained it. It explained about the Mayans, the black holes in the sun, alot of posibilities, and he wasn't really representing religion. Finally a book that dosen't really point a finger at religion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a well-researched, very intriguing book. 2012 holds many questions, and this book covers a range of things having to do, and coincide with, the year in question. A good read; highly recommended.
adamjason More than 1 year ago
Thank-you Lawrence E. Joseph, for sharing your knowledge with us. Page 225,( Apocalypse 2012 ) you gave a prayer. It is hard to believe, but, some people can not fathom God. It made me cry, and, I'm not one to feel for these things. It touched me that you would think of putting a prayer for humans that do not have a conection to the creator of everything known to mankind and beyond. Your book confirmed, beyond a shadow of doubt, that Jesus Christ'second coming is near...and it's real. The funny thing is...you did not intend for this to happen. You are one of the people God is using to prepare the masses for the second coming, and, you do not know it.What a privilege and honour. You do write it without any credence to any religion, and, no credence to the saviour of mankind, the man himself,
Jesus Christ!! Jesus did not say he was religion. Jesus said he was truth and the way. What does he want in return? Not much, just to aknowledge him and say thank-you. Inviting him into your heart. It's not much to ask. Is it? It's not even a question of what he wants in return. The Evil force that is with us (Satan) has tried over and over to confuse the good message, with some success...SOME. Where ever people stand on their views on Jesus and God or Religion, they can still enjoy your words. Religion spreads the good word, however, Satan has managed to contaminate that, and, use that to it's advantage. Satan is real, and, very powerful. People don't seem to address Satan, because, they are too busy trying to prove that Jesus is not the Son of God in every way possible. Evil is real. We look into the eyes of evil every day. It's in the papers and on t.v. ,also, in every human on the planet. The thing is, we all have a choice. Isn't it the best??!!The Bible tells us we are born into sin, and, we need Jesus to help with this, and bring us to God. Keep in mind, the Bible tells us the Heavens are filled with life, and, knowing the same God that created us, created them...so...it is reasonable to assume, some ufo creatures are good, and some are bad. They have a choice as well. Let's hope the ones that are communicating with people are the good ones. The issue of ufo creatures helping us out is also in the Bible, and, it is comforting and confusing. Confusing, because, some books, from all good books, have been witheld from us. This is where faith comes in. People that think the Devil is a dude running around with a pitch fork and horns are sitting ducks that are slaves to Satan, and, they don't even know it. I hope one day to meet you in a place we call heaven. The Bible tells us everyone is judged differently and this means...don't worry. From what I know, God wants those who are worthy and can live in peace. I feel he will say...
"Those with love, and ,forgiveness come." It only makes sense does it not? How can feelings of revenge, jealousy, greed, hate, pain and suffering and darkness...survive in the presence of...forgiveness, tranquility, generosity, love, pleasure, light...well, you get the picture. If you are not a good man and Satan was using you to scare people...it backfired!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Now people can come back to their senses...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Need I say anything more. This book does not deserve to be read. In between shallow examinations of various scientific and religious belief structures, the author serves up some of the most self-indulgent,non-sensical rambling that have read. Avoid this book like the plague.
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