Ancient Mayan societies, known for their advanced mathematics and astronomy, followed a "long count" calendar that lasted 5,126 years. When their charts are translated to the Gregorian calendar, the international standard used today, time runs out on Dec. 21, 2012.
Believers say there are other links besides just the Mayan calendar that portend catastrophe. The sun will be aligned with the center of the Milky Way for the first time in about 26,000 years on the same day, which marks the winter solstice. Some say that will disrupt the energy flow to Earth, or that the high rate of sunspots or sun flares that NASA has predicted for 2012 could affect Earth magnetic fields.
Scientists have tried to squash the doomsday scenario as another empty prophesy, but it’s clear there are thousands who consider the possibility of a worldwide catastrophe occurring on that date very real.
"You have to understand, there will be nothing, nothing left," Patrick Geryl told ABC News. "We will have to start an entire civilization from scratch." Geryl, a 53-year-old former laboratory worker who lives in Belgium, quit his job two years ago after he saved up enough money to last him until December 2012. He’s now stocking survival supplies, a list of which runs 11 pages long.
Geryl is certainly not the only one. Searching for "2012 the end of the world" on Google brings up nearly 700,000 hits. More than 6,500 video posts about the day have been posted on YouTube. There are also countless books on the topic, many published in the wake of the success of Daniel Pinchbeck's "2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl," which has been selling thousands of copies each month since it was released last May.
But what do believers think will happen on Dec. 21, 2012? Some say a polar reversal, where the north pole becomes the south, where the sun rises in the west, triggering natural disasters around the world. Others say the date marks a worldwide spiritual awakening.
Experts laugh off these notions. "These prophecies of doom really don't have any basis in what we know about the Maya," said Stephen Houston, an anthropology professor at Brown University and an expert in Maya hieroglyphic writing. "The Maya descriptions barely talk about this event." He said the Mayans saw their calendar coming to an end on the date, but then starting over without any catastrophes.
"Really, it's a conversion of people’s anxieties about our times, and finding some remote mythological precedent or prediction of it," he said. "People like to believe that ancient wisdom is somehow predicting this time of upheaval."
This is some crazy shit man. I think this is really going to happen, on 2012. :l