Whatever Happened in 2012?
What will happen in 2012? There are numerous rumors floating around about 2012 and mostly related to the end of days, and that proves confusing for most people in here. Is it true, that the end is near? Obviously the 2012 is growing as a meme, that, instead of enlighten the people, only giving more misunderstanding & confusion, about what happen with our nature. In the end, this meme only blurs the understanding between knowledge and urban legend.
To clarify the 2012 from the perspective of astronomy, the Student Union of Astronomy (Himastron, the organization body for students from the Dept. of Astronomy, ITB), on last Sunday (14th of June, 2009) organizing a talk show about 2012. There were around 300 people from various backgrounds & ages eager to flock & discuss about the subject. Quiet a large number, larger than expected.
The talk show is an attempt to give a proper scientific perspective about natural phenomena that might be entangled with the word ‘2012’, and in the same time give scientific insight for general public. There were three experts from three different fields, Solar Physicist, Solar System Scientist, and Archaeo-Astronomer gave talk about the subject.
Is it true, that 2012 is the end of time as prophesied by the Maya civilization? Hardly! If in particular date is the end of a calendrical cycle of Maya calendar, then, it might be the case. But should it be the end of time? Well, the codices left by the ancient civilization of Maya should be interpreted carefully, without subjugate of modern thinking, because of how the people from different era will perceive the nature differently.
Okay then, if the prophecy can be omitted, and should be accepted as the discourse of archaeo-astronomy, let’s put another case? Is it the ‘planet X’ that would jeopardize the Earth on 2012? Okay, the planet X? The discussion about this planet X started sometimes around the 1980s, among the Solar System researchers in attempt to clarify the orbital behavior of Uranus and Neptune. During the course of time, the research of planet X open the new perspective about the edge of the Solar System, with the spin-off the demotion of Pluto from the planet family member. But what is planet X anyway? Up to recent time, the Solar System researchers still search this planet X far onto the edge of the Solar System. So, let’s put the planet X on the proper position, as the subject in the edge of Solar System, instead of threat of near Earth object.
Well, if planet X is no longer a threat, what about the other? Mmmm .. many still confuse with the movie ‘Knowing’ .. (SPOILER ALERT!). Well well .. will the Earth ‘consumed’ by the blazing inferno from the Sun? Hardly, it’s already 4.5 billion years old Sun, and the Earth stood still, regardless continuous bombardment from the Sun. However, since the dependency of human with the space technology grows recently, a slight disruption from the Sun on satellite could be serious problem for human life, for instance, the disruption on GPS signal. Is it new kind of ‘doom’ for modern people?
All in all, the attempt from the students to disentangling the fact & fiction behind the 2012, hopefully could shed the light, and give deeper insight for general public, about how we, the human perceive the nature through scientific way, and not to be confused with the metaphysical stuffs. Besides, this is IYA, so what else can astronomy do, but to give insight about our place in the universe.