As if it wasn't enough with people claiming that the Earth will be consumed by a supernova or a hungry black hole in 2012, now we are getting photos of Mayan pyramids firing energy beams into the sky. Great. Just great.
One of the researchers who operates NASA Mars missions' cameras thinks "it really is an awesome image!". He also has an explanation about why this happened. One that doesn't involve the end of the world:
Of the three images, the 'light beam' only occurs in the image with a lightning bolt in the background. The intensity of the lightning flash likely caused the camera's CCD sensor to behave in an unusual way, either causing an entire column of pixels to offset their values or causing an internal reflection (off the) camera lens that was recorded by the sensor.
Those are the words of Arizona State University's Mars Space Flight Facility researcher Jonathon Hill. He makes perfect sense, as you would expect from a scientist who works for NASA. The three images Hill is referring to were taken by Hector Siliezar while visiting Chichen Itza in 2009.
Chichen Itza is a large city built by the Mayans around 600–900AD, located in the Mexican state of Yucatán. The Mayans were these people who, according to many experts in tinfoil hats, were amazingly prescient. So prescient that they made a calendar announcing the destruction of Earth in 2012 but failed to see a handful of Spaniards conquering them a few hundred years in the future. In reality, the Mayans were just a Mesoamerican civilisation who were pretty good at art, architecture, astronomy and mathematics. Their civilisation started on 2000BC and lasted till Spain beat the crap out of them in the 16th Century.
Hector's camera EXIF data reveals that the photo with the beam was taken on July 24, 2009 at 2pm. His iPhone captured the image at 3.85mm focal length, F/2.8 and with a exposure time of 1/436 seconds.
Hector told Earthfiles — a site dedicated to "real X-files" — that nobody saw the "beam" of light. He could only see in the photo that had the lightning in it, corroborating Hill's technical sensor glitch explanation.
But if you want to believe that Hector actually captured a signal from or to the Mayan Gods in the skies, Galactus or Elvis Presley, please do and tell us why in the comments. It will be fun! [Earthfiles and MSNBC]