“End of World” Scares
– – Sadly, even NASA has found it necessary to debunk the reputed end of the world hysteria that some believe is suggested by the Mayan calendar. The Near-Earth Objects Program at NASA has explained away many of the most frequently cited doomsday scenarios for 2012.
One scenario involves an enormous imaginary planet called Nibiru supposedly swinging in from the outer solar system just in time to collide with the Earth in December. With thousands of astronomers scanning the skies on a daily basis, such an object would have been discerned long ago. A true believer might contend that the malevolent rogue planet is invisible. If such were the case, the gravitational effects of the rogue on neighboring planets would be discernible.
Alternative doomsday scenarios involve such things as massive solar flares or planetary alignments. Earth’s magnetosphere shields its inhabitants from solar radiation, although it can damage orbiting satellites. There are no planetary alignments anticipated for December, and even if there were, there would be negligible tidal effects upon the Earth as a result. Additional speculations that the Earth’s axis is going to shift are nullified by the fact that the rotational axis of the Earth is stabilized by the orbit of the moon. While the Earth’s magnetic field does shift every half-million years or so, there is no evidence that a shift, which takes thousands of years, is in the works for December.
As the late great Carl Sagan observed, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Despite hundreds of thousands of predictions for the end of the world since the beginning of human history, we’re still here…
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