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Dates in December: What's in a number?

November 29, 2012
Wake Forest University
A professor says dates that might appeal to the public like 12-12-12 or the 12-21-12 end of the Mayan calendar don't have mystical meanings.

Hot on the heels of last year's 11/11/11 come two big dates in December. Are you ready for 12/12/12 or 12/21/12? Should you be? A Wake Forest University professor says these dates on a calendar page do not offer mystical truths.

While a few specific dates when written out can achieve a unique and interesting numerical pattern, are these dates really significant or is there just increased attention from the superstitious?

Eric Carlson, a physics professor who also teaches about skepticism, pseudoscience and the scientific method, offers his take on two upcoming dates in December:

December 12, 2012 (12/12/12)

• "Although repetitive patterns like 12/12/12 are interesting, they have no more special significance than when your car's odometer hits 121,212 miles."

December 21, 2012 (12/21/12)

• "This date marks the end of the 13th b'ak'tun of the long count Mayan calendar. But just as our own calendar ends on Dec. 31, but then starts over again, so also the Mayan calendar continues after December 21." • "The date has no other particular astronomical or other significance, and there is no reason to expect it to mark the end of the world, or the beginning of a spiritual transformation. The date is not singled out in Mayan writings as being particularly special, and claims that it coincides with some sort of galactic alignment are incorrect, and fly in the face of our understanding of astronomy and physics."

For those who take these dates with a grain of salt, there are still plenty of events to celebrate on these dates. On December 12, 2012, we will be about halfway through Hanukkah, and The Concert for Sandy Relief is scheduled for December 12, bringing Americans together just nine days before the Mayan calendar may or may not predict destruction of the planet on the 21st, which is also the winter solstice and the shortest day of the year.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wake Forest University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Cite This Page:

Wake Forest University. "Dates in December: What's in a number?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121129143155.htm>.
Wake Forest University. (2012, November 29). Dates in December: What's in a number?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121129143155.htm
Wake Forest University. "Dates in December: What's in a number?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121129143155.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

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