vineri, 26 februarie 2010

Top 10 Reasons The World Won’t End on December 21, 2012

10. Because a reversal of the magnetic poles would not be catastrophic.

It seems that every few hundred thousand years or so, the Earth’s magnetic field dwindles to practically nothing and then gradually reappears with the north and south poles flipped. Now this flipping of the magnetic poles—which appears to have last happened about 780,000 years ago—isn’t particularly dangerous, but this brief period—about a century or so in duration—of decreased magnetic fields could threaten life on the planet, for without magnetic protection, particle storms and cosmic rays from the sun, as well as even more energetic subatomic particles from deep space, would strike Earth’s atmosphere, eroding the already beleaguered ozone layer and causing all sorts of problems to both man and beast (especially among those creatures that navigate by magnetic reckoning). Further, scientists estimate that we are overdue for such an event and have also noticed that the strength of our magnetic field has decreased about 5 percent in the past century, possibly signaling that such an event may be in our immediate future—within a few centuries if not sooner. However, in being so gradual, should scientists in the future discover that such a shift is in the works, there should be plenty of time to take the necessary precautions to avoid the most destructive effects by moving underground or off planet, or perhaps strengthening the planet’s atmospheric defenses through the use of exotic, futuristic technologies. In any case, it isn’t something we need to worry about in the short term—though it could be a concern for those living a few hundred or even thousands of years from now.

9. An increase in sunspot activity in 2012 will not have any particularly detrimental effect on the planet.

As every schoolchild knows, our sun is constantly shooting gaseous plumes of white hot plasma thousands of miles into space which our atmosphere generously shields us from. Sometimes these plumes are much larger than normal, however, and are what we refer to as solar flares (more properly known as coronal mass ejections). Fortunately, these enormous magnetic outbursts that bombard Earth with a torrent of high-speed subatomic particles are also largely negated by the planet’s atmosphere and magnetic field, so we seldom feel the effects of these plasmic bursts, beyond creating havoc for ham-radio users and increasing the luminosity of the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. They are of concern mainly to space explorers, who really would have a problem if they are caught in orbit without suitable shelter when one of these things go off. The sun goes through a natural twenty-two year cycle when such storms increase significantly for a time before decreasing again. Such a period is scheduled to occur in 2012, which has some folks all atwitter. For those who are expecting the worst, it might be beneficial to realize that the sun reached similar period of solar activity in 1990, 1968, 1946, and it will again in 2034, 2056 and 2078. While these periods can produce large solar flares that can effect satellite communications and, in a worst-case scenario, adversely affect the flow of electrical energy through the power grids, it is unlikely to do more than produce some especially spectacular light shows in the northern skies and make people onboard the International Space Station a little nervous.

8. Because the poles cannot shift or the planet’s orbit be otherwise altered.

Some well-meaning but scientifically challenged individuals maintain that the planet’s physical poles are on the verge of reversing (that is, the planet is flipping over onto its top) or that gravitational forces from the other planets or from the galaxy itself could affect Earth’s orbit and, hence, dramatically alter its climate and environment. Fortunately, however, the gravitational forces that effect our planet and its place in the solar system are mandated by Newton’s laws of planetary mechanics and cannot be changed without some extremely rare (think one chance in ten billion over the next three billion years) and dramatic event taking place—such as a collision with a small moon or a massive black hole making its way through the solar system, both of which would be noted well in advance or whose effect would be so gradual as to take centuries to have any great impact. As far as we know, there are no such cosmic events known to be on the horizon—at least for the foreseeable future (and well beyond 2012).

7. Because Earth climate change is a gradual process and one easily adapted to.

Some take a more hand-on approach to the end, claiming that humanity will perish as a result of human-caused weather changes, which, it is claimed, will melt the polar ice caps, raise the ocean sea levels, and change weather patterns over large portions of the planet. Even if the science holds together, however—which many claim it does not—such a process would be felt over a period of years or even decades, giving human beings time to adapt to the changes (relocate, create shoreline reclamation technologies, etc.) It is even possible that a warmer planet might ultimately be beneficial by, for example, increasing arable land in Siberia and North America as the permafrost layer retreats northward. In any case, the year 2012 has no particular significance in regards to any Earth changes that may occur over the next few decades.

6. Because the people who suggest the end is coming don’t know what they’re talking about.

Unfortunately, human beings have a tendency to invest great authority in people who can convince them they are prophecy “experts” or have some sort of hidden knowledge others do not possess that allows them to read the future. Many of these people are sincere individuals who simply misinterpret ancient bible texts, while others are deluded crazies who only want to include others in their fantasy world. A few are even unscrupulous charlatans out to make a quick buck. The bottom line is, however, that nobody really knows what the future holds regardless of who they are or what methodology they use. There simply is no evidence that anyone has ever successfully prophesied some future event (beyond some short-term political or military events easily surmised by gauging current international trends) with anything approaching clarity or accuracy.

5. Because the Bible Code is a parlor trick.

Using a complex type of cryptographic code called Equidistant Letter Sequencing (ELS), journalist Michael Drosnin, author of The Bible Code, contends that one can find meaningful and related patterns of words and dates in close proximity to each other within the words of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament and the heart of the Jewish Torah) which would seem to go beyond mere chance. One of these, he says, suggests the planet will be struck by a comet in 2012, with all the unfortunate consequences that would entail. However, critics dismiss Drosnin’s methodology as little more than a parlor trick, demonstrating that meaningful words and phrases can be produced using his method on any similar sized manuscript. For example, Australian mathematician Brendan McKay, an ardent critic of Drosnin’s process, demonstrated that a computer search of Herman Melville’s nineteenth century classic Moby Dick found a number of meaningful phrases in close proximity to each other (specifically having to do with the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995), suggesting that just as the eyes can be tricked into seeing familiar faces in random patterns of light and shadow, so too can the mind be tricked into finding meaningful phrases in random collections of letters where none exists. And if that’s not enough, Drosnin has been proven wrong about other “significant events” he claims were contained in the Bible, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

4. Because the Earth isn’t that easy to destroy.

Sure, there are things that could do the planet in, but Earth is a lot hardier a place than many give it credit for. After all, it’s been here for four billion years now, had its clock repeated cleaned by asteroids and comets, endured climactic changes of biblical proportions, and even survived a collision with another planet that created our own moon, and yet it keeps on ticking. And you think a few melting ice caps and puny nuclear weapons are going to do it in? Please…

3. Because doomsday prophecies have consistently been proven wrong.

Literally hundreds of dates have been picked by various religious leaders and self-proclaimed prophets over the last two thousand years as being the end of the world and not a one of them has ever even come close to being accurate. So why do we believe these same people today when they tell us the end is coming in 2012 (or whenever they imagine it to be coming)? Listen, you wouldn’t believe your doctor if it has been repeatedly demonstrated that he has never once correctly diagnosed a patient, so why give these guys the benefit of a doubt?

2. Because Nostradamus never picked 2012 as the end date.

It has been popularly believed that Nostradamus, the famous sixteenth century French mystic, suggested the end would come in 2012, perfectly coinciding with the Mayan date, which, if true, would be very spooky indeed. However, in reading through Nostradamus’ many quatrains, nowhere does he specifically mention the year 2012 or even suggest that the end would come around that time. In fact, his predictions extend all the way to the year 3797, making it seem we have some time yet before the end is neigh. Additionally, his writings are so obscure as to make any interpretation little better than a guess. Most of them are likely referring to events that took place in his lifetime, with the rest being so vague that they can be made to fit any time frame the reader so desires.

1. Because the Mayans never claimed it would.

The Mayans had many calendars they used, one of which was known as the “long count” calendar, which measures very long periods of time.  According to this calendar (which has been known to archeologists for decades, by the way) the Earth’s “fifth sun” would end at the Winter solstice, December 21, 2012, at which point a new, sixth 5,125-year cycle would begin. What significance this had to the Mayans is a source of some debate, but it is the general consensus that they did not attribute to it any catastrophic events. Most likely, they simply considered it a time for spiritual renewal or introspection, which doesn’t sound all that dangerous to me. The teaching that the Mayan’s believed it was the end of time, then, appears to be a largely westernized misreading (or deliberate misrepresentation) of the significance of the Mayan calendar and Mayan beliefs associated with it.
By J. Allan Danelek
J. Allan Danelek is a Lakewood, Colorado author who writes and talks extensively on subjects having to do with the paranormal and alternative science. His most recent book from Llewellyn Worldwide, 2012: Extinction or Utopia, deals in some detail with the entire 2012 controversy and the issue of doomsday prophecy in general, and is a must read for anyone desiring to get some sort of objective balance on the entire subject. His book can be ordered—and the author contacted—through his website at


miercuri, 3 februarie 2010

Top 10 Famous Last Words and Quotes

10. Jack Daniel (1846-1911)

“One last drink, please.”

Jack Daniel was an American distiller and the founder of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey distillery.  He never married or had any children and was close with his favorite nephew, Lem Motlow.  In 1907, due to failing health, Daniel gave the distillery to Motlow, who then passed it down to his children, Robert, Reagor, Dan, Connor, and Mary.  Jack Daniel died from blood poisoning on October 10, 1911, in Lynchburg, Tennessee.  The infection that killed him started in his big toe, which he injured after kicking a safe.  His final words were recorded on the day of his death and fittingly they were “one last drink, please.”  This incident was the subject of a marketing poster used on the London Underground transit system in January 2006.  Jack Daniel’s brand of Tennessee whiskey is among the world’s best-selling liquors and is known for its square bottles and black label.

9. Dutch Schultz (1902-1935)

“Hey, Jimmie! The Chimney Sweeps.  Talk to the Sword.  Shut up, you got a big mouth! Please come help me up, Henny.  Max come over here.  French Canadian bean soup.  I want to pay.  Let them leave me alone.”

Those were the final, nonsensical statements of Mr. Dutch Schultz. He was a New York City-area gangster during the 1920s and 1930s.  During his lifetime Schultz made a fortune in organized crime.  He was involved with many operations, including bootlegging and the numbers racket.  Dutch Schultz had a reputation as one of the hardest, short tempered characters in the neighborhood.  During prohibition the Joey Noe and Dutch Schultz gang controlled the beer supply for the entire Bronx.  Their operation became the only non-Italian gang to rival those who would become the heads of the mafia’s five families.
On October 23, 1935, Schultz was shot in the abdomen and died at the Palace Chophouse in Newark, New Jersey.  He was only 33 years old.  Dutch Schultz’s dying words were taken down by a police stenographer.  Due to the severity of his injury he made many incoherent and random statements.  His words have inspired a number of books and media stories.  Some more of Dutch Schultz’s final quotes include “Mother is the best bet, don’t let Satan draw you too fast, please crack down on Hitler’s commander, the sidewalk was in trouble and the bears were in trouble and I broke it up.”

8. L. Frank Baum (1856-1919)

“Now I can cross the shifting sands.”

L. Frank Baum was a US author, poet, and playwright best known as the creator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  Baum wrote thirteen sequels about the Land of Oz.  He also published 55 novels, 82 short stories, and over 200 poems.  In his writing, Baum surrounded the Land of Oz by a magical desert.  The desert has four separate quadrants, named the Deadly Desert, the Shifting Sands, the Impassable Desert, and the Great Sandy Waste.  It is used as a literary device to explain why Oz is essentially cut off from the rest of the world.  Anyone who sets foot in the desert will turn to sand.  On May 5, 1919, L. Frank Baum suffered a stroke.  He died quietly the next day, nine days short of his 63rd birthday.  Baum whispered his final words to his wife hours before his death.  “Now I can cross the shifting sands,” referring to the Land of Oz.

7. George Harrison (1943-2001)

“Love one another.”

George Harrison was an English rock musician, singer-songwriter, and lead guitarist of The Beatles.  He is often referred to as “the quiet Beatle” and credited with helping revolutionize rock music.  George Harrison also embraced Indian culture and Hinduism in the mid 1960s and helped expand Western awareness of sitar music.  He wrote many Beatles hits, including “Here Comes the Sun,” “Something,” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”  In the late 1990s Harrison developed throat cancer and had an operation at the Mayo Clinic to remove a cancerous growth from one of his lungs.  In July of 2001 he underwent radiotherapy for a brain tumor at a clinic in Switzerland.  George Harrison passed away on November 29, 2001.  His final words were recorded by his wife, simply “love one another.”

6. Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

“My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.”

Oscar Wilde was an Irish playwright, poet, and author.  He wrote numerous short stories and one novel.  Wilde was known for his biting wit and he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era.  He achieved celebrity status in the late 19th century, but suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned for two years hard labor after being convicted of homosexual relationships, described as “gross indecency” with other men.  Oscar Wilde died of cerebral meningitis on November 30, 1900.  He was only 46-years-old.
Different opinions are given as to the cause of the meningitis, Richard Ellmann claimed it was syphilitic, while others hypothesize that it was the result of complications after Wilde’s mastoidectomy.  Oscar Wilde died at the Left Bank hotel.  He maintained a positive attitude until his last moments and with his final words, compared his troubled situation with the lackluster hotel wallpaper.  The wallpaper has since been removed and the room re-furnished in the style of one of Mr. Wilde’s London flats.  In January 2010, Dublin City Council, proprietors of the Archbishop Ryan Park in Merrion Square, decided unanimously to rename it.  A campaign has been started to rename the park The Oscar Wilde Park.

5. Malcolm X (1925-1965)

“Brothers! Brothers, please! This is a house of peace!”

Malcolm X was an African-American Muslim minister, public speaker, and human rights activist.  He has been described as one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history, while his detractors accused him of preaching racism, black supremacy, and violence.  During the 1950s and 60s Malcolm X became a member of the Nation of Islam and one of the organization’s leaders and chief spokesmen.  Less than a year after he left the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X was assassinated while giving a speech in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom.  He was speaking to a meeting of the Organization of Afro-American Unity.
During his speech a staged disturbance broke out in the crowd of 400.  As Malcolm X and his bodyguards moved to quiet the ruckus, a man rushed forward and shot him in the chest with a sawed-off shotgun.  Two other men fired handguns, hitting him 16 times.  Reportedly, Malcolm X was dead before his body struck the floor.  His final words were an attempt to keep peace in the crowd.  Other sources have his final quote as “now, now, brothers, break it up, be cool, be calm.”

4. Bob Marley (1945-1981)

“Money can’t buy life.”

Bob Marley was the lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist of the reggae band Bob Marley & The Wailers.  Marley remains the most widely known and revered performer of reggae music.  He is credited with helping spread Jamaican music to a worldwide audience.  In July 1977, while seeking treatment for an injury sustained during a friendly football match, Marley was found to have acral lentiginous melanoma, a form of malignant melanoma.  He declined amputation of his toe and the melanoma eventually spread to his lungs and brain.  Bob Marley died at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami on the morning of May 11, 1981, at the age of 36.  His final words were spoken to his son Ziggy. They were, “Money can’t buy life.”  The compilation album, Legend (1984), released three years after Marley’s death, is reggae’s best-selling album and has sold 20 million copies worldwide.

3. Amelia Earhart (1897-1937)

“KHAQQ calling Itasca.  We must be on you but cannot see you.  Gas is running low.  We are on the line 157-337. We will repeat this message. We will repeat this on 6210 kilocycles. Wait.”

Amelia Earhart was a noted American aviation pioneer.  She was the first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross, which was awarded for becoming the first aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.  Earhart set many other records and wrote best-selling novels about her flying experiences.  In 1937, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean during an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe.  Their intended destination was Howland Island, which is an uninhabited coral island.  The cause of her death and location of her plane’s crash has always been a mystery.  Many researchers believe that Earhart’s airplane ran out of fuel and was ditched at sea.  Her final radio correspondence and last words indicated that she was close to her destination, but could not find it.
The USCGC Itasca was deployed to provide air navigation and radio links for Amelia Earhart, but a two-way connection could not be reached.  Many theories exist surrounding the plane’s crash.  Nikumaroro, formerly Gardner Island, is part of the Phoenix Islands in the western Pacific Ocean.  It is a remote area with a large central marine lagoon.  In 2007, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery did a study and archeological dig on Nikumaroro.  Many artifacts were discovered, but the most interesting was a brass zipper.  Archaeologists claim that the zipper dates from 1930s America and is fitted for women’s clothing.  Other artifacts that speak of an American woman from the 30s were discovered.

2. Steve Irwin (1962-2006)

“Don’t worry, they usually don’t swim backwards.”

Steve Irwin was an iconic Australian television personality, wildlife expert, and conservationist.  He created the documentary series, The Crocodile Hunter and was the owner and manager of the Australian Zoo at Beerwah, Queensland.  On September 4, 2006, Irwin was fatally pierced in the chest by a stingray spine while snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, at Batt Reef, which is located off the coast of Port Douglas in north Queensland.  He was filming a shallow water segment for his daughter Bindi’s new show, Bindi the Jungle Girl.  Irwin suffered major internal damage and tears to arteries and other main blood vessels.
It has been speculated that the puncture wound from the spine caused Steve to die of cardiac arrest, although blood loss was a major factor.  The events were caught on tape, and a copy of the footage was confiscated by the Queensland Police.  Steve Irwin’s last recorded words were “don’t worry, they usually don’t swim backwards.”  He recognized that the stingray was acting awkwardly and was alarmed.  The video footage confirms that the stingray was swimming backwards.

1. Mozart (1756-1791)

“The taste of death is upon my lips.  I feel something that is not of this earth.”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era.  He composed over 600 works, with many being acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music.  He is among the most well-known and popular of all classical composers.  Mozart was a child genius and wrote his first piece of music at the age of five.  The circumstances surrounding his death have been widely debated over the years. Mozart passed away at 1:00 AM on December 5, 1791, at the age of 35, following a short illness.  He had a history of health problems and had suffered from smallpox, tonsillitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, typhoid fever, rheumatism, and gum disease.
Mozart suffered from many mysterious symptoms before his death.  His sickness began with swelling of the hands and feet and then progressed to sudden stomach pains and intense vomiting.  The illness would come and go and Mozart had the suspicion that he was being poisoned.  He remained completely conscious until two hours before his death.  Mozart’s body swelled up so much he could no longer sit up in bed, or even move on his own.  His final words are quite revealing, “The taste of death is upon my lips.  I feel something that is not of this earth.”