The End of the World – the Summer Olympics?

Ok, for our weekly Science update while the world is getting ready to become preoccupied with the Olympics, i thought i would explore the end of the world.  Not something most patent attorney’s get the opportunity to do…

So where does this end of the world phenomena come from?  Apparently, many who believe the world is coming to an end attribute this prediction with the end of the Mayan Calendar along with the timing of the solstice, the sun entering the “Dark Rift” and becoming aligned with the galactic center, and both the earth and sun becoming aligned with the black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.  The galactic center is the rotational center of the Milky Way Galaxy. Some suggest that this unique positioning will create an extraordinary gravitational force on the Earth.  As most of you who follow this blog already suspect, neither I nor NASA agree with this assessment.

First of all, the Mayan calendar doesn’t end on December 21, 2012.  It is just the end of a Mayan cycle or long count and the beginning of another long count cycle, just like December 31 is the end of our Gregorian calendar yearly cycle and January 1 is the beginning of another yearly cycle.  The Mayan’s just didn’t use the same calendar cycle as we do.  So December 21, 2012 is not the end of the Mayan Calendar.

Next, regarding the planetary alignment.  Simply stated there is no alignment on December 21, 2012.     December 21, 2012 is the Winter Solstice, the day when the North Pole is dipped farthest away from the sun.   However, on Dec. 21, 2012, the sun will pass about 6.6 degrees north of the galactic center — that’s a distance that appears to be 13 full moon’s, as viewed on earth, from the galactic center.  In fact, the sun will actually be closer to the Galactic Center a couple of days prior to Dec. 21.

The Winter Solstice itself does not correspond to any movement of the stars beyond Earth. Again, it is just the day that Earth’s North Pole is tipped farthest from our Sun. Additionally, the Earth is not within range of a strong gravitational force from a black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.  Gravitational forces decrease exponentially by the distance an object is from another object.  Earth is 93 million miles from the sun and 165 quadrillion miles from the black hole at the center of the Milky Way’s. The sun and the moon (a smaller mass, but much closer) exert, by far, more gravitational force on the Earth than a black hole quadrillions of miles away. In fact, we’re actually nearest to the galactic center right now, in the summer rather than during the winter solstice.

So while you are getting ready to watch a rebroadcast of the Summer Olympics opening ceremony, just think, this is more likely to be the end of the world, rather than December 21, 2012.  Happy Friday!!