Archive for the ‘2012’ Category
December 21st of this year is the big party date for the supposed end of our world.
Sure everyone’s already ordering kegs, ordering faux “Danger: Apocalypse In Progress – Do Not Cross” banner tape by the case and prepping for their end-of-the-world get-togethers.
But then again…everyone hasn’t been watching the news coming out of Mexico that clearly shows an active volcano and something entering it from the sky like an old Thunderbirds vehicle.
Falling star? Busted satellite? No one’s sure at this point but seriously…the odds of something as agile (sarcasm, kids…sarcasm) as a giant mountain full of raging lava catching an object from space? Slim.
We’ll let you put all those party supplies back, start handing you some nails and plywood and make sure your shotgun’s loaded.
Virologists and epidemiologists sure can be a fun bunch.
Put enough money behind one of their projects and who knows what you’ll end up with.
In this case we may end up with the end of the human race.
Remember the bird flu scare? Total Year 2000-style panic. Many people just took it as another sign that those silly Mayans weren’t so silly and 2012 was the last time they’d have to buy a calendar from one of those kiosks in the mall.
Scientists have been playing with the bird flu virus in order to see if it would ever mutate enough to become a pandemic among humans spreading merely through someone sneezing on someone else.
And guess what? It could. Since 2003 there have been 606 confirmed cases of H5N1 in humans…almost 60% of those proved fatal. Fatalities among birds, where the virus gets its ‘bird flu’ monicker, have been in the millions. Scientists want to get a lead on the pathogen to see what evolutionary process it would have to take to become a global pandemic amongst humans.
They have an answer and it’s not pretty.
Using ferrets, Dutch researchers led by virologist Ron Fouchier, have developed a strain of the virus that is transmitted through droplets in sneezes. Passing ten times between infected ferrets and mutating five times in the process, H5N1 became airborne and a very real threat to all of us.
After injecting one ferret with H5N1 via droplets to their nose, scientists would let the virus mutate inside the ferret’s body. Once the virus mutated, researchers would then infect another ferret with the mustation. Ten ferrets and five mutations later? Lots of ‘uh ohs’ and nervous, unspoken glances at the other scientists in the room.
As the government continues to provide funding for studies like this in ongoing biological weapons research, scientists, researchers and world leaders are trying to put safeguards in place and determine just how far developing mankind-destroying viruses should go.
The public, because we’ve seen the movies, are worried that scientists may create something that would wipe us all out either because they felt like being a jerk that day, want to swim in a pile of cash like Scrooge McDuck or are making up for all those times people picked on them as a child and would like to pay everyone back for that.
What most people are concerned about is when controversial papers like this are published for the world to see. All we need is one of those scientists with the back-stories mentioned above or a crazy person with enough tenacity and hatred for all of us to peruse a detailed document like the paper for this study to wake up on the wrong side of bed one day.
Brakes had been applied to publishing this research. After six months of red-tape? That paper is about to go public. The Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program at the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science (which publishes Science where the paper will appear) want the paper to see publication so that work can continue on the H5N1 virus. Both the Dutch and US government are seeking to add addtional guidelines concerning publishing research like this in order to prevent individuals from having complete access to the process of creating something like the airborne H5N1 mutation so it doesn’t end up at some local elementary science because some super-nerdy ‘pageant parents’ wanted little Billy to get first place at any price.
Director of the Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program at the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science (seriously…have a title), Mark Frankel, stated that the beneifit of studying H5N1 “far outweighs” any potential danger.
“There’s a risk in everything in life”, he said.
To which many of us would probably think that too.
Especially when we decide to manufacture deadly-to-mankind, airborne viruses.
I’m running to the mall…anyone else want me to pick them up one of those Mayan calendars?
Is this final proof of the dire Mayan 2012 prophecy? Most likely not.
But it is a totally sweet light beam shooting out of the top of the Mayan city of Chichen Itza. It was taken by a tourist who was trying to capture a lightning strike in the distance. Two picture were fine, the third, is what you see in the video.
Experts say it’s clearly an artifact in the picture. Which is probably right. And boring.
Once again the town of Beebe, Arkansas is cleaning up dead blackbirds around New Years and the police are banning fireworks.
“It’s just got to be a pain in my career,” Beebe Police Chief Wayne Ballew said.
Prior to this New Year’s Eve, Ballew said he wouldn’t be surprised if people sit out on their front porches in case the winged creatures fall from the sky again.
“I guess we could have an annual blackbird watch,” he said with a laugh. “People can just bring their umbrellas, open them up and walk through the neighborhood and hope they don’t get hit.”
Does a new Mayan relic currently being researched confirm the apocalyptic date of December 21, 2012?
The answer: an emphatic “maybe, probably not.”
The ‘Comalcalco Brick’, as the second fragment is known, has been discussed by experts in some online forums.
Many still doubt that it is a definite reference to December 21, 2012 or December 23, 2012, the dates cited by proponents of the theory as the possible end of the world.
‘Some have proposed it as another reference to 2012, but I remain rather unconvinced,’ said David Stuart, a specialist in Mayan epigraphy at the University of Texas at Austin.
What is known is that the carving found at a ruin in Comalcalco, Mexico does make reference to the end of the 13th Baktun, a 394-year period which will come due next year. However, there is not much evidence to suggest that any apocalyptic event will come along with it.
In fact, many scholars are quick to remind worry warts that Mayan culture believed time constantly began and ended cycles without world ending punctuation.
A Russian military engineer, Evgeny Ubiyko, is building an $80,000 Doomsday Capsule designed to survive the 2012 apocalypse, as understood from folklore, television and movies. Ubiyko is building his capsule on an abandoned battery farm just outside Moscow.
“The capsule is hermetic, it’s got four layers of insulation. It can float, roll down hills, and land upside down – without being damaged,” Evgeny explains.
“It cannot be destroyed by tremors, or lava, or magnetic storms. This is where the shower will be, and the air purification systems. It can house up to four people for 40 days and costs $80,000.”
I want to reiterate this last point: the inventor claims that this capsule is impervious to LAVA. That is something that I would like to see in action. Hey, fun fact – if the world doesn’t actually end, Evgeny says the capsules can be used as saunas or industrial fridges. He strongly recommends that the government order several thousand immediately.
As chronicled in yesterday’s New York Times a new wealth of heroes conceived by one of the fathers of modern comics, Jack Kirby, have been unveiled by California animation company whom he worked for later in his career. The firm that owns them, Ruby-Spears Productions, is planning of making them into new comics, cartoons and films.
But which are we most interested in? Golden Shield of course. According to the article:
Among the unrealized projects that Mr. Kirby helped create or contribute to were “Golden Shield,” about an “ancient Mayan hero seeking to save earth in the apocalyptic year 2012.”
Ever the visionary…