Posted by: Johan Normark | February 14, 2011

2012: The Royal Society makes a contribution

A few days ago the astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell presented some astronomical evidence for the insignificance of December 21, 2012 for The Royal Society. I have little to say regarding that part of her presentation. From an archaeological and Mayanist point of view she could at least have made some minor efforts looking up some information on the Maya (since she apparently has googled the other stuff). She believes the Long Count was initiated during the “height of the Mayan people”. Apart from that obvious social evolutionary statement she is almost three millennia off. Neither did the Maya themselves call their calendar “the Long Count”. This is a modern concept and we do not know what they called it. She also believes that the Long Count was cyclical, which the actual name itself clearly indicates it is not. It is a neverending count of days.  Later on she says that the Sumerians is believed to have discovered the fantasy planet called Nibiru. No, they did not. This is something the pseudoscientist Sitchin says, not the ancient Sumerians. If I remember correctly Sitchin never states that Nibiru will return in 2012. There are others who claim that. I guess Burnell’s knowledge about the whole 2012 phenomenon is quite limited to astronomy. It is, in fact, much greater than that.



  1. Correct, Sitchin never claimed that, it was co-opted by others. I think he said it should come back in like the 2080s or so. I think I may have made some similar mistakes about the long count being cyclical. I was under the impression that once you get to the, you hit again, but that there was another sixth point you could add at the beginning, kind of like an odometer that has 4 digits and when you hit 9999 you add a 5th so you would go from 09999 to 10000. Is that incorrect?

  2. Once we reach the next day will be and after that For more info check out this post:

    • Yeah, is what I meant. It was late at night when I wrote that.

  3. Of course it’s greater than astronomy. But if she’s approaching 2012 with astronomy in mind, and she’s an astronomer, one can forgive her limited familiarity with particulars in Mayan and Sumerian history. I doubt anyone is confusing her for an authority in either. It would be equally mistaken, in a response to a Mayanist approach to 2012, for a reader/audience member to object: “Yes, but what about the astronomical factor xyz? Aren’t you aware that xyz is actually…? You clearly don’t understand your astronomy”

  4. Yes. However, most people associate 2012 with these “end of the world disasters” and quickly forget the connection to the Maya which the whole date is about in the first case. If I was not a Mayanist and I was going to speak to an audience about something so closely related to the Maya I would do a little more research than she apparently has.

  5. I doubt the world will end in 2012. It could be that the May simply decided to stop their calendar at 2012 and everything would be coincidence. No reason to panic or anything if you ask me.

    • The Maya did not decide to stop their calendar at 2012. There are so many misunderstandings about the Long Count and the Maya.

  6. It’s very ironic, the professor claims that we all need a better understanding of science to save us from scams like 2012, and then gives us a something just as bad – poorly researched, taking a nugget of truth and distorting it. She wasted a lot of time debunking the planetary alignment of 2012, and how we are going to be sucked into a black hole in the center of the galaxy – neither of which have ever been offered up by 2012 researchers. And she doesn’t even know how Google works, see here:

    • I doubt she has checked out that number of websites she claims in the beginning of the clip (I do not remember the number but it was several hundred). If so she should have made a better presentation. Not only does she not know how Google works, the audience seems to be unaware of that as well judging from their laughter. I am not fond of the 2012 phenomenon but if one is to make an important contribution to debunk it one should at least discuss what the 2012 proponents are discussing.

      • And that’s why I stick to the astronomy and ask you about the archaeology. 🙂

      • I have some questions to ask you later on when I begin to discuss the astronomical part of Calleman’s most recent book (such as “the axis of evil”, rotating axes that drives galaxies, etc.). It is probably best for me just to write what he says and leave it open for comments.

      • That’s fine. You know my e-mail address, too. Though I will warn you my dissertation is due to my committee in 5 weeks 23 hours and 46 minutes, so I may not respond very quickly.

      • Good luck with that! You may have mentioned it before but what is your dissertation about?

      • Thanks. I’ve briefly mentioned it on my blog before, but the VERY short phrase is “craters on Mars.” If for some reason you’re interested in more, you can take a peek at my research website. I’ll need to do a bit of spring cleaning on it after I graduate.

      • Nice! I should perhaps ask you a couple of questions regarding the Chicxulub impact crater on Yucatan since it plays a substantial role in my research.

        Do you get many questions regarding that “human face” on Mars?

      • Yes and yes.


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