From such diverse sources as the prophecies of Nostradamus to the Aztec “long count” calendar, we seem to be on course for extreme events by the end of the year 2012. Ancient cultures worldwide point to this time as a point of disaster for humanity. Skeptics may laugh and deny any truth to this prophesied cataclysm but it bears looking into possible scientific reasons for these beliefs. There are several that may hold the key to a real danger we may face in the very near future.
These keys lie within the workings of astronomy. On a solar level, the relative center of gravity between the sun and the planets affects not only the wobble within the sun’s rotation but also the cycle of sunspot activity. This increases and decreases on an eleven-year cycle corresponding to the positions of the two largest planets, Jupiter and Saturn. When the gravitational barycenter of these two planets are pulled the same way, as they are when the planets are on the same side of the sun, the sunspot activity and resultant solar flares and coronal mass ejection (CME) of stellar matter are at their lowest. When these gravitational forces are opposed, flare activity and the amount of CME increases. The next peak of this cycle takes place in 2012.
Even under normal situations these CME events can create problems for communication satellites and ground-based electrical systems. Two cycles ago, in 1989, CME’s caused massive electrical blackouts across North America. It is possible that a large enough solar flare could cause the Earth’s ionosphere to be stripped away, allowing deadly radiation to fry the life on the planet’s surface. In 2012 we will be experiencing a situation that is far from normal just as this sunspot activity reaches its peak.
The gravitational pull of the sun is strongest along the plain of the elliptic along our star’s equator. On a cosmic level, this is also true of the gravitational pull of the Milky Way galaxy. The planets of our solar system wobble a bit in their orbits around the sun. So too, our star wobbles a bit on its orbit around the center of our galaxy. Just as the next peak in sunspot activity occurs, our star will be aligned directly with the central point of the galactic elliptic. The greatest galactic gravitational pull will be affecting our star just as the pull of our largest planets are also affecting it, pulling the barycenter even further out of line.
Another recently discovered aspect of this passage through the center of the galactic elliptic involves the gamma radiation that is thrown out of galaxies such as ours along their horizontal axes. This gamma radiation is created by exploding stars. A five minute burst of gamma radiation was detected in 1998 which emanated from an exploding star about one fifth of the way across our galaxy. Even at twenty thousand light-year’s distance this blast was strong enough to ionize our planet’s atmosphere, damage several orbiting spacecraft and briefly scramble the global communications network. The potential gamma radiation energy streaming from the center of our galaxy could be exponentially stronger and much more deadly.
There is evidence that such massive energy levels have hit Earth before. The last such event, as best as can be determined, caused a rapid ending to the last Ice Age and a near extinction for most species on the planet. The vehicle for such disaster seems to be linked to the amount of cosmic dust that manages to enter the heliopause surrounding our solar system. Under normal conditions this “bubble” acts like a system-wide “atmosphere” which keeps the system relatively free from a buildup of this interstellar material. There are, however, forces that can disrupt the surface of this heliopause and inject quantities of cosmic dust into the solar system. Huge radiation blasts can accomplish this.
Since the last sunspot peak in 2001, the amount of cosmic dust streaming into our system’s heliopause has increased threefold rather than leveling off as it usually does. Astronomers do not know why the volume of this material continues to increase when it should be diminishing. This dust buildup could become so thick that a massive radiation burst could strip the ionosphere away, flash cook the surface, and literally create the visual effect of a “fire in the sky” that prophesy speaks of as a herald of the “end times.”
Examination of polar icecap samples shows a huge increase in cosmic dust material right at the end of the last ice age. This fourteen thousand-year-old event also coincides with an anomaly discovered on the moon. On the surface of many craters was discovered a glazing of glass created by the melting of the surface sand. Such glass normally occurs in volcanoes and meteor impact craters. That the areas of lunar glass were small indicates that the sand was melted quickly and cooled rapidly. The most likely cause was a quick, ten to one hundred second burst of heat that could have been generated by a massive solar flare. That these glassy areas were not dust covered indicated that the event happened well under thirty thousand years ago and probably at or near the end of the last Ice Age.
With so many cosmic cycles merging at this specific point in space-time, it is inevitable that something of major consequence will occur. It has happened before and it will happen again. There is some good news. Ancient petroglyphs around the world include illustrations of what this last major cosmic event looked like. There were survivors to carry on and replenish the planet. If the events leading up to the peak point in 2012 are no worse than that event, there is hope humanity will survive even if civilization as we know it perishes. Like the legend of the phoenix, we may survive as a species to rise again in some future civilization.