Thursday, August 25, 2016


NASA Astrophysicist Sets 'Doomsday' Record Straight

The Mayan temple of Kukulkan, the feathered serpent and Mayan snake deity, is seen at the archaeological site of Chichen Itza in the southern Mexican state of Yucatan.
The Mayan temple of Kukulkan, the feathered serpent and Mayan snake deity, is seen at the archaeological site of Chichen Itza in the southern Mexican state of Yucatan.

Related Articles

Video As Mayan 'Apocalypse' Nears, Doomsday Craze Grips The World

As some people brace for the end of the world on December 21 -- the day the ancient Mayan calendar comes to an end -- the fears cause panic and sparked numerous schemes to capitalize on doomsday fears.
Astrophysicist David Morrison talks to RFE/RL about favorably innocuous alignments of the planets, government secrets, and how your GPS navigator will be the Mayan apocalypse's first casualty.

Morrison heads the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, and is a senior scientist in astrobiology at NASA Ames Research Center. This is a slightly edited transcript of his e-mail responses to correspondent Eugen Tomiuc's questions about December 21.

RFE/RL: Humans, arguably the only beings endowed with reason, seem to have always been afraid of -- and strangely attracted to -- the idea of the end of the world. The latest doomsday scenario cites an ancient Mayan calendar as proof that the world will end on December 21, 2012, due to some catastrophic event. Are there the slightest scientific grounds for this?

David Morrison: None at all. This doomsday hoax is pure fantasy.

RFE/RL: Strange theories abound on the Internet. A planet called Nibiru lurking somewhere behind the sun, ready to strike Earth. A sudden reversal in the rotation of the Earth (probably an idea coming from those who did not read Jules Verne during childhood). Some meteor, asteroid, or comet about to hit and wipe out life on Earth. After all, something similar happened to the dinosaurs.... So what are the odds of something bad happening out of the blue?

Morrison: The chances are zero of any of these things happening on December 21. There is no planet named Nibiru, and the fictional books by [Azerbaijani-born American author and] economist Zecharia Sitchin about a civilization 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, discovered in 2010) that will collide with Earth on December 21. These claims are not true. If such a threatening world existed, 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.
David MorrisonDavid Morrison
David Morrison
David Morrison

There is no alignment of planets in December 2012. There is an approximate lining up of the Earth and sun and the center of our galaxy in late December, but this happens every year. In any case, planet alignments have no effect on the Earth. There are also no inbound asteroid or comets.

Finally, 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.

RFE/RL: The current information technology and the widely available means of communication have offered people an amazing tool of learning. What is the explanation, in your opinion, [for the notion that] that people who literally have the world at their fingertips remain prone to believing bizarre theories no matter what arguments scientists...come up with?

Morrison: Many people are under the impression that they can trust everything posted on the Internet. They have not learned that there is as much misinformation as real information on the Internet. Until people learn to distinguish truth from fiction on the Internet, we will have such problems.

ALSO READ: Top 10 End-Of-The-World Predictions

RFE/RL: In the 2009 Hollywood movie "2012," which depicts a cataclysmic scenario of biblical proportions, governments across the world keep the public uninformed in order to ensure the survival of political and economic elites. Hard-core supporters of the idea that the world will end on December 21 claim that, like in the movie, governments are also hiding the truth now. What can and what can't the government reveal to the public in a hypothetical catastrophic scenario?

Morrison: The idea of a government keeping such a secret is silly. If anything were happening to the Earth, hundreds of thousands of scientists all over the world would know. NASA and the government have no monopoly on information about the Earth or the cosmos.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: dolores urquidi from: texas
December 19, 2012 15:50
NASA forgot to observe the nearer skies overhead, so they seem to have missed when the Great Star (the comet) came in 2008 and flew over with a lot of noise and hullabaloo. That comet disintegrated overhead and that was the end of the old, ancient, very old threat of a disaster. Thank Heavens, Now we don't have to expect the end of the world any more, until our earth disintegrates under our feet.
In Response

by: Paul Wieschowski from: Michigan
December 20, 2012 01:56
Why the hell would it do that??????

by: wavettore from: USA
December 19, 2012 20:53
Picture Destiny shaped like a hook.
As people walk straight on this "hook", maybe for 10,000 years, the perceptions begin to build and to believe that Destiny is a straight path or, simply put, the history of the Human Will.
It would take new understandings of the relation between Time, Space and Movement before we could realize that Free Will does not exist.
Just like when the causality of all events will be viewed as many links of One same chain it will be easier to understand how they are all part of One same Idea.
Destiny, the chain of events, will not change but it will change the way you will live your
life. God’s Idea is like designed by infinite segments which are all moving straight inside one Sphere. Our lives, or those segments, often come to sudden stops, like unexpected dead end streets, to run with straight lines the countless possibilities of One Destiny on a curve.
In Response

by: Paul Wieschowski from: Michigan
December 20, 2012 01:48
Thats actually REALLY creepy

by: Paul wieschowski from: Michigan
December 20, 2012 01:33
Yeah, just like the government didnt try to keep mermaids from us as well, That last statement made me more scared then i was before...

Most Popular

Editor's Picks