The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Mayans, 2012 and the "end of the world".

Long ago, a people called the Mayans drafted a calendar. The only problem is that the last day is, I understand, December 21st 2012. It is a problem because, rather oddly, quite a few "modern" people seem to believe that because an ancient calendar had an end date in 2012 that also means the world must end with it. I find this rather bizarre.

Think about it. The idea that an ancient calendar somehow foretells the end of the world, simply because the calendar itself runs out of dates on a particular day is really quite mad. It has no more validity than if I make up a calendar, now, that suddenly stops on March 3rd, 3003. I then proceed to place many copies of this calendar in strategic locations around the world, likely to be found, but also likely to survive. Then, a thousand years later, all the world lives in fear of death, because of the "ancient" objects they discover that inexplicably end on a particular day. It is really quite bonkers.

That many people in the world are apparently concerned about the ancient Mayan "prophecy", is yet another sign that we do not live in rational times. Yes, there are some who are rational, but many of the "masses" are not. They persist in a non-scientific, somewhat "magical" view of the world, in which things can happen in ways that have no rational explanation, yet are accepted. This is, perhaps, a failing of education systems, around the world, for there is no better cure to "magical thinking" than a good scientific education. Once a person understands the fundamentals of science, a whole raft of superstitions, outlooks and world views seem ridiculous. Among them, of course, is the idea that the Mayans had privileged information about the future.

Now, it must be understood that my position does not come from a closed mind. I am open to all possibilities, however, I do like to see that they can be understood and explained - or at least have evidence for them. There is no evidence, that I am aware of, for Mayan prophetic abilities. If there were a consistent record of Mayan prophecies, recorded before the events they describe, which then took place as foretold, then I would worry about what might unfold in 2012. However, I have not heard of anyone speak of such things, nor have I read of it. Such a prophetic record would be a truly marvellous thing and would soon be known by all, were it found. I can therefore assume that it doesn't exist. In the absence of such a record, the idea that the ending of a calendar signifies the end of the world, can safely be ignored. It is of no more import than that the calendars, in every shop in the world, have 365 days in them, the 365th being the last.

So, relax about 2012 and "the end of the world". There is no RATIONAL reason to worry about it. That being said, of course, that does not mean that it won't be the end of the world - just that there is no reason to believe that the Mayans had any advance information on the issue.

The world will end one day. Yes. However, it is unlikely to be 2012. It will occur eventually, no matter what we do, when the Sun expands (unless we move the Earth..., which is quite a good idea, but also quite an engineering project).

Oh, and don't worry about the sun expanding to engulf the Earth. That would take 5 billion years. Though in a billion years or so, the Earth's oceans will boil away, making a day at the beach, a bit meaningless.

In all probability 2012 will be just like any other recent year. The only difference is that the Mayans will lose a certain cachet - and all those, too, who believed in their "prophetic calendar."

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 7:11 PM 


Blogger Indiana said...

People believe in an imaginary sky friend who created the world in 6 days...basically, people are crazy enough to believe in anything.

And according to the Mayan legends the date signifies a return, not an end.

9:48 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. I believe it is the return of a God of war/death, of some kind...sounds a lot like the "end", too, though.

It is funny the way people believe the "ancients" knew things that we cannot and do not. In what way are they privileged, other than in being prior?

10:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

move the earth..talking rubbish.. i believes in mayans but not exact 2012, because nobody knows that. 5 million more years.. oh,, mr valentine.. did you ever study? chaos like this now, will be an end soon..makes more prayer.

5:59 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Talking rubbish am I? It is clear that you are unfamiliar with basic physics. Moving the Earth is technically quite feasible, though perhaps would require a little more money than Mankind is presently prepared to invest (and anyway there is no immediate need). One method would be to redirect a large mass so that it approached the Earth in just the right way...the pull of the mass on the Earth could be used to move the Earth. Of course, this would have to be carefully calculated.

If future Man needed to move the Earth, it could most certainly be done.

I find your conviction that modern "chaos" signals an imminent end, a very old perception. People have always thought that the world was going to end, in their own lifetimes. This is common throughout history. As for the world being chaotic, it is probably less so than in many past times.

The remark about "study" puzzles me. Studies usually don't speak much of the end of the world - or provide any information as to its timing (other than the numbers I stated above).

It is billion, not million...

Thanks for your comment. I rather hope you are wrong about the imminent end of everything.

11:01 AM  
Blogger EbTech said...

If we manage to survive the next 5 billion years, I imagine the Sun's expansion would hardly pose a threat to us.

On the other hand, we are now for the first time capable of drastically altering the Earth's ecosystem, of which we are a part. I'm afraid the next 100 years may determine our fate as a species and as a civilization... our irrational, short-sighted politics are of little help in this matter...

12:37 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. I agree. The physical principles required to move the Earth are well known and could, no doubt, be implemented this century if we wanted to do so. I don't think they are beyond our present capabilities: there is just no present need.

That being said, politicians are remarkably stupid people. It is possible that the necessity of something may be apparent, but it may not be done because it does not immediately benefit the politicians. An example of this is an absence of a space defense shield against incoming asteroids and other objects. It is necessary because it is only a matter of time before we go the way of dinosaurs without one. Yet, one has not been built and is not planned, as far as I know. This is gambling with the fate of humanity, for the sake of saving dollars...stupid.

So, we may have no trouble moving the Earth when the time comes...but still it may not be done. We are led by the bovine, I am afraid.

Let us hope for better leadership, in future. Or better still - vote for it.

Thanks for your comment.

6:16 PM  

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