Looking ahead in 2012: The world ends - Mayan style

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According to the Mayan calendar, the world will end Dec. 21, 2012.

IF OCEANS boil next year and ancient gods start sucking human souls into the fiery heavens, only then will you wish you had heeded the words of former Phillies catcher Darren Daulton.

"The Mayan calendar stops at Dec. 21, 2012 - the date the Mayans believed the world would end," Dutch supposedly told Sports Illustrated in 2006. "On that day, at 11:11 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time, those who are ready to ascend will vanish from this plane of existence, like the crew of the Enterprise in Star Trek."

Few of us really know anything about the Mayans, though many have gotten drunk, diarrhea or sun poisoning in Cancun, not far from some of their ancient ruins.

The Mayan people of Mexico and Central America made an elaborate calendar way-back-when that either ends, resets or keeps on going next December and, depending on whom you ask, it means the dawn of a new human consciousness, the end of the world or another year of political commercials and the Kardashians.

The University of Pennsylvania's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology will be educating the masses about Mayan culture, and cashing in on pop culture, in May when it opens a new exhibit, "Maya.2012: Lords of Time."

Penn is considered the go-to source for all things Mayan and, thankfully, the exhibit ends in 2013.

"You kind of have to embrace it to some extent," Simon Martin, a co-curator of the upcoming show, said about the Mayan phenomenon. "When we did research, we found that lots of people heard about it, but they couldn't tell you a thing about it. There are lots of genuine mysteries about the Mayans."

In the meantime, there's always Wikipedia or Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto."

"It's not a terrible movie," said Mark Van Stone, a professor at Southwestern College in California and author of "2012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya." "It does mix up the Mayans, Aztecs and even the Nazis, though."

If you've been stockpiling Spam or invested in "survival seeds" at the urging of Glenn Beck, you might want to skip the next few paragraphs because Van Stone thinks that the world will continue.

"Not only did the Maya not predict the world would end, they did not predict their calendar would end either," he said.

The link between the Mayans and the word "Armageddon," Van Stone said, was introduced to the general public in 1966 book by Yale archaeologist Michael Coe, though he wasn't making a prediction himself. Calendars are arbitrary human constructs.

It's not really Dec. 30, 2011, today, because the Earth is billions of years old.

Still, the Mayan calendar phenomenon simmered in the pscyhedelic subculture for decades and exploded when a new psychedelic age and the birth the Internet merged in the 1990s.

"I would be hard-pressed to not find someone who smokes a lot of cannabis who doesn't know about 2012," said John Hoopes, an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Kansas.

Thousands of books have been written about 2012 and websites abound with predictions and advice, both free and for a fee.

"What if the Crazy's are Right?" the website www.survivalplan2012.com asks.

Michael Borek, a Virginia man, sells $27 books on the site with pointers about edible plants, Morse code and how to make a wood "gassifier."

"Randomly one day, I asked myself the question 'What if all this is true? What would I want to know?' I didn't really have all those answers," he said.

Daulton seemed to know something in 2006, but told Philadelphia magazine earlier this year that he never personally said the world would end in 2012. The Daily News wanted to hear it from Dutch, so we sent an email to his website and received a cryptic response from a guy named Tony.

"Thanks for the inquiry. When he was talking no one was listening," Tony wrote. "And [now] he isn't saying anything . . . "