Apocalypse in 2012? Date spawns theories, film
(CNN) -- Just as "Y2K" and its batch of predictions about the year 2000 have become a distant memory, here comes "Twenty-twelve."
Fueled by a crop of books, Web sites with countdown clocks, and claims about ancient timekeepers, interest is growing in what some see as the dawn of a new era, and others as an expiration date for Earth: December 21, 2012.
The date marks the end of a 5,126-year cycle on the Long Count calendar developed by the Maya, the ancient civilization known for its advanced understanding of astronomy and for the great cities it left behind in Mexico and Central America.
(Some scholars believe the cycle ends a bit later -- on December 23, 2012.)
Speculation in some circles about whether the Maya chose this particular time because they thought something ominous would happen has sparked a number of doomsday theories.
The hype also has mainstream Maya scholars shaking their heads.
"There's going to be a whole generation of people who, when they think of the Maya, think of 2012, and to me that's just criminal," said David Stuart, director of the Mesoamerica Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
"There is no serious scholar who puts any stock in the idea that the Maya said anything meaningful about 2012." Find out more about the history and culture of the Maya »
But take the fact that December 21, 2012, coincides with the winter solstice, add claims the Maya picked the time period because it also marks an alignment of the sun with the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and you have the makings of an online sensation.http://us.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/01/27/2012.maya.calendar.theories/index.html