Dec. 21, 2012: The countdown to the end of the Mayan calendar begins

21 as the fateful date, but that's not the unanimous opinion of experts on Maya glyphs. Penn Museum's Simon Martin, for example, is among those who say that Dec. 23 rather than Dec. 21 marks the end of the Maya calendar's millennia-long baktun cycle.

There has been a rash of end of days predictions in recent months. What do you think about this one?

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According to Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, when Judeo-Christians began to decipher Mayan writings, their preconceived notions of apocalypse and the end of the world led them to link Mayan calendar cycles with doomsday.

We're assured that the Mayan calendar doesn't really predict that the world will end a year from today, but there's no fighting the laws of orbital mechanics, which have been known in some form since before Stonehenge was built (more about that in a