Mayan Doomsday 2012: Nasa busts 11 apocalypse myths, for another 300 billion years

Astronomers say changes in structures of orbits of Earth and other planets might make them collide with us some 300bn years from now

Today, 21/12, is not the Mayan Doomsday. In fact, it’s neither Mayan, nor the doomsday. The widespread fear of the doomsday occurring on December 21, 2012 is downright unnecessary – even stupid.

And if you’re among those that are fearful of the earth forgetting to spin or a giant asteroid wiping us of the face of the universe, well, there are no more chances of that happening today than yesterday or tomorrow.

If you are afraid of the destruction of the world on the ‘Doomsday’ – we have one advice: RELAX.

The Earth is covered under manufacturer’s warranty for another 300 billion years – at least that’s what the scientists (astronomers – not astrologers) have calculated.

According to astronomers, the changes in the structures of the orbits of mother Earth and other planets around us, different planets (the main culprit is said to be Mars although Venus too may go berserk at some stage) might make them collide with us some 300 billion years from now, give or take  a few hundred million years.

A large number of people are confused and worry about a Maya prophecy of the end of the world; others fear a variety of astronomical threats such as a meteorite killing us all a la dinosaurs, or a collision with a rogue planet destroying Earth as we know it.

Here are some brief facts that address these doomsday fears:

Myth #1: The Mayan Calendar Ends on 21/12/2012

The biggest and the most common myth doing the rounds is that the Mayan Calendar ends on 21/12 for good. In fact, the Maya calendar is made up different cycles of day counts, and it does not end this year. Rather, one cycle of 144,000 days (394 years) ends – and the next cycle begins.

Myth #2: Mayans Prophesised the Word Ends on 21/12/2012

Never, ever did the Mayans – ancient or current – predict the end of the world or any disaster in December 2012. Such doomsday predictions are just a modern hoax.

Myth #3: A Rogue Planet (Nibru or another) is Headed for Earth

Nibiru is probably the minor name of a god found in ancient Mesopotamian writing. There is no planet named Nibiru, and the fictional books by economist Zecharia Sitchin about a civilisation on this planet are a hoax. For the past decade there have been reports of a rogue object (Planet X, or Nibiru, or Hercubolus, or even Comet Elenin) that will collide with Earth in December 2012. These claims are not true.

If indeed such a threat had existed, by now we would have been able to spot a big, bright object moving towards us and growing bigger every night. It would be one of the brightest objects in the sky, and astronomers would have been tracking it for years.

If it existed, its gravity would be distorting the orbits of planets, especially Mars and Earth. Astronomers know that it does not exist.

Myth #4: The Planets are Aligning to End

There is no alignment of planets in December 2012. There is an approximate lining up of the Earth and Sun and the centre of our Galaxy in late December, but this happens every year. In any case, planet alignments have no effect on the Earth.

Myth #5: Earth’s Magnetic Pole is Shifting

There is nothing strange this year about either the magnetic poles or the rotational poles of the Earth. The magnetic polarity changes every million years or so, but that is not happening now, and it probably takes thousands of years when it does happen. A sudden change in the rotational axis has never happened and is not possible. If there were any change in the Earth’s rotation, it would be instantly apparent by failure of our GPS systems. Mine is still working – is yours?

Myth #6: Increasing Natural Disasters Point to Doomsday

Our planet is behaving normally in 2012, although we see more and more news stories about natural disasters. There has been no increase in earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. There has been an increase in extreme weather, including both droughts and floods, which are partly attributable to global warming, but this has nothing to do with a 2012 doomsday. We must wake up to global warming and do something about it anyways – and not because od 21/12.

Myth #7: Solar Outbursts Indicate The End

The Sun’s ongoing 11-year activity cycle is expected to peak in 2013, not 2012. Solar outbursts (flares and CMEs) can damage orbiting satellites but will not hurt us on the surface. The strength of the 2013 solar maximum is predicted to be lower than average, not higher.

Myth #8: Government folk are Building Bunkers

Accusations of a massive government cover-up are nonsense. No government could hide an incoming planet or silence hundreds of thousands of scientists. Rumours that huge bunkers have been built in the US or elsewhere to shelter the elite are lies. Apparently a few people are building private shelters, but their fear of 2012 is misplaced and they are wasting their money.

Myth #9: Children are Becoming A Scared Lot

Not necessarily a myth, but this is because we are letting them get their ‘doomsday information’ from all kinds of sources, and they will believe a hoax if not busted at the right time by grown-ups. The group most vulnerable to doomsday claims is children. Teachers report that many of their students are frightened and some are even considering suicide. This is the most tragic consequence of the 2012 hoax.

Myth #10: The End of the World Will be Sudden

The idea of the sudden end of the world by any cause is absurd. The Earth has been here for more than 4 billion years, and it will be several more billion years before the gradual brightening of the Sun makes our planet unliveable. Meanwhile there is no known astronomical or geological threat that could destroy the Earth.

Myth #11: Cosmophobia

Many young people say they are scared of astronomy. When they read about some new discovery, the first thing they think is that it might hurt them, even if it is happening in a distant galaxy. There is no reason for such fears, which Nasa’s David Morrison calls cosmophobia (fear of the universe).

This rash of concern seems to be the result of too many conspiracy theories and sensational stories featured on the Internet and irresponsible news outlets. Astronomical objects are so distant that they cannot threaten the Earth. Please don't be afraid of the Sun or the planets or comets or asteroids. The universe is not your enemy.

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