Mayan predictions

  1. What did they predict, and what didn't they.

    Here are a list of things I read on the web that I am skeptical about. I don't no where to find reliable sources.

    1. how long it would take for the solar system to rotate around the galaxy.

    2. eclipses, including one that actually happened in 1999.

    3. the existence of a black hole in the center of the galaxy.

    4. gamma ray bursts come from the black hole, and when major bursts would happen.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. I don't see how this relates to the Mayans, who obviously had no knowledge of black holes.

    Sun's galactic rotation period: 220 million years (negative rotation)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milky_Way

    Try this article

    It doesn't take an astro physicist to expect to find a super massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way...just a basic understanding of gravity and space. In fact, I would be surprised if it's possible for a galaxy to form WITHOUT a black hole forming at it's center.

    Anyway here's one of the first articles that popped up on google
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/11/1102_051102_black_hole.html

    A black hole is defined as a body that is massive enough that light cannot escape. A gamma ray burst is light. Therefore I do not think black holes produce gamma ray bursts...this should come from very massive stars. Someone more knowledgeable may be able to clarify this.
     
  4. The ancient Mayans made none of these predictions. They are all modern and attributed retroactively to the Mayans.
     
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma-ray_burst

    Though you may want to check the references to make sure they're legit.


    And as stated above, those are not predictions that the Mayans made.

    If you want to know about the predictions that they made, here is the best source I could find outside of a peer-reviewed source, mostly because I couldn't find anything that was peer-reviewed on the subject (maybe a reason for that? :p)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_millenarianism
     
  6. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    The only one the Mayans could have had any hope of knowing anything about is #2.
     
  7. ideasrule

    ideasrule 2,322
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    Two civilizations monitored the moon and sun accurately enough to make solar eclipse predictions: the Greeks and the Chinese. The Mayans didn't.
     
  8. mgb_phys

    mgb_phys 8,952
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    The babylonians were probably the first to study eclipses and discovered the 18year cycle in the C7 bce.
     
  9. Are you sure they didn't predict eclipses though? This is thrown around like common knowledge.

    "Ornate wall carvings are actually astonishingly detailed calendars that can still be used to predict eclipses and other astral events."

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/spirits/html/body_maya.html
     
  10. What I'm reading is that they had a name for a gigantic monster in the center of the galaxy that was associated with death. This is fairly accurate in a metaphorical sense, but probably not what they meant.
     
  11. ideasrule

    ideasrule 2,322
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    They did predict lunar eclipses, but not solar eclipses. The difference is enormous. Earth's shadow is many times wider than the Moon, so if you can calculate that the Moon is within a few degrees of being exactly opposite the Sun, that's good enough; a lunar eclipse would almost certainly take place. It doesn't even matter where on Earth you are because as long as the Moon is above the horizon, lunar eclipses can be seen from just about any place on the planet.

    On the other hand, the Sun and the Moon are almost exactly the same size as seen from Earth: both are around half a degree in diameter. That means that if the error in the Moon's predicted position is more than a quarter of a degree and the error bar on the Sun's position is similar, there would be little chance of telling whether an eclipse is going to happen. It gets worse than this. Move 100 km from the eclipse path and you see no total eclipse; move a few hundred km more and you'd see no eclipse whatsoever. This means that to predict a solar eclipse that can actually be seen, and thereby confirm the prediction, the prediction will have to account for the changing orbital speed of the Moon and the Sun, the observer's latitude and longitude, and the parallax on the Moon's position. To know the latter, Earth's diameter would have to be calculated at least roughly. The Greeks and Chinese could do all of this two thousand years ago, but it's hard to imagine how a civilization that doesn't even know how to smelt can make observations of the required accuracy. That the Mayans accomplished as much as they did is impressive, but they probably couldn't predict solar eclipses occurring in their own time, much less thousands of years later.
     
  12. ideasrule

    ideasrule 2,322
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  13. From http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/science/know_l1/compact_binary.html
     
  14. Did the mayans even know that we existed in a 'galaxy' If they did then I'm a QUITE impressed... and makes me wonder... how come we have made very small progress... I mean like the mayans existed around 2000 BC - like 1000AD right?
     
  15. D H

    Staff: Mentor

    Of course they didn't. But people sure can make a lot of money by claiming that they did.
     
  16. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    You're right - when I saw the OP, I thought lunar eclipses, but should have been clued-in by the single random date that the supposed prediction must have been about solar eclipses. Certainly solar eclipse prediction would have been far beyond their capability.
     
  17. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    "fairly accurate in a metaphircal sense" is completely useless when it comes to connecting an ancient text to a real scientific phenomena. This is very much like the Nostradamus "predictions" - they are so vague and symbolic that any similarity with real phenomena can only be coincidental.
     
  18. arildno

    arildno 12,015
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    I strongly suspect that the so-called amazing accuracy of the Mayan calendar is just the collective fantasy of a coterie of math-blind archaeologists.
     
  19. Chronos

    Chronos 9,988
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    Wooeologists painting bullseyes around the darts would be my guess. 'A bad thing involving fire may someday happen' is not a convincing example of prophesy. Vaguity is the bread and butter of all soothayers. Toss in a few bizarre, and equally vague images, and you have . . . magic. Give me something useful, like tomorrow's powerball numbers. It seems the prophets always complain 'the spirits do not permit such 'knowledge'. Indeed, the 'spirits' appear unable to impart any testable predictions of the future. James Randi anyone?
     
  20. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,529
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    I don't think the Mayans had powerball.

    The interesting thing is that even if a "prediction" is accurate, we can never know if it was coincidence. If a "psychic" gave you tomorrow's powerball numbers, it would be attributed to chance.

    How many powerball winners claim to be psychic? Does anyone have any idea? If there were many very rich psychic people - people who are able to do better than the odds would suggest - would we know, or would we chalk it up to chance?
     
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