CAPITAL REGION Anyone who’s stockpiling goods or checking items off a bucket list before the Mayan calendar ends on Friday might want to take a deep breath and consult Heather Hurst’s research.
Hurst, an assistant professor of anthropology at Skidmore College, was one of a team of researchers who last year discovered a much bigger Mayan calendar than the famed long-count one that ends with the winter solstice this week.
The bigger, cosmic calendar includes 72 octillion years, Hurst said. We’re about a third of the way through it, so there’s plenty of time left before the world really will end, she said.
“The Maya, just like we do, have lots of different calendars.”
The long-count calendar that shows 7,885 years and ends Friday is simply like an old-school car odometer that rolled back to zero when it hit 100,000 miles.
“We’re now at this point where we’re having this major flip of the odometer,” Hurst said.
The Maya knew time kept going after that, Hurst said.
“There’s not a single myth that says the world will end.”
But some people believe the world will end on Friday, and see it as an intersection between various religions and cultures that all call for an apocalypse.
So much has been speculated and written on the Internet about planetary alignments and collisions and scorching solar flares that NASA last month released questions and answers to debunk those ideas.
“The world will not end in 2012,” the website states. “Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.”
If you’re not convinced, then are you ready?
In connection with the TV show “Doomsday Preppers,” the National Geographic website offers a series of questions to rate how well people are prepared for the apocalypse.
“From water supply to shelter location and security, all aspects of prepping are interconnected,” an explanation on the website says. “Along the way, we’ll provide survival tips for you to improve your score.”
If an apocalypse does come, an underground bunker a few hours north of here is considered one of the best chances of survival.
A story posted earlier this month by the New York Daily News about the best bunkers to survive an apocalypse listed the Cold War-era Adirondack Missile Silo, an underground missile silo that is invisible from the surface except for an unassuming 2,000-square-foot log cabin built above it.
The unusual home is in Clinton County and includes a private airport on the property. The silo’s entry is secured with 2,000-pound steel blast doors and reinforced with thick concrete walls.
The surviving Maya won’t be holed up in some concrete bunker, Hurst said.
The descendants of the ancient Maya in southern Mexico, Guatemala and Belize are greeting the end of the long-count calendar with celebration — planning feasts, ceremonies and parties. Year-end celebrations begin five days before the solstice.
Any year that ends in a zero, as this one does, or a five is considered significant in Mayan culture, with the ancient peoples cleaning their homes, fasting or having a group feast to mark that milestone.
“You note that time has passed in some way,” Hurst said. “It was about community-building and just checking in with everybody.”
Hurst and the team of researchers discovered hidden murals and writing that were buried in a room under an earth mound in Guatemala. She traveled there in 2010 and 2011 to study them.
The murals included the cosmic calendar with 72 octillion years — that’s 72 with 27 zeroes after it.
“We excavated it and found these paintings,” Hurst said. “It just proves that they were thinking ahead.”
Hillary Kramer, a Clifton Park psychotherapist and psychic medium, said some of her patients have asked her if she thinks the world is going to end.
She doesn’t. But in general, change is inevitable, she said.
“Every day things change and evolve. For every ending there’s a beginning.”
Just like the odometer rolling over to zero and starting all over again.