NASA takes to Youtube to say end is not near

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY BEN WOLF­GANG

Ac­cord­ing to NASA, Christ­mas can go ahead this year — the world will not end on Dec. 21.

In a re­cent Youtube video, one of the agency’s top sci­en­tists de­bunks var­i­ous dooms­day the­o­ries linked to the sup­posed end of the Mayan cal­en­dar. While some ex­pect plan­e­tary col­li­sions, mas­sive so­lar storms or mag­netic pole shifts that lit­er­ally could turn Earth up­side down, the Na­tional Aero­nau­tics and Space Ad­min­is­tra­tion sees Dec. 21 as “just an­other day.”

“Ex­tra­or­di­nary claims re­quire ex­tra­or­di­nary ev­i­dence. Since the be­gin­ning of recorded time, there have been lit­er­ally hun­dreds of thou­sands of pre­dic­tions for the end of the world, and we’re still here,” said Don Yeomans, a sci­en­tist at the agency’s Jet Propul­sion Lab­o­ra­tory, a re­search fa­cil­ity at the Cal­i­for­nia In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy.

There is no ev­i­dence, Mr. Yeomans said, that so­lar flares will scorch our planet. He also poured cold water on the no­tion that a rare plan­e­tary align­ment could send Earth into a tail­spin, say­ing no such events will oc­cur this year.

Other end-of-days sce­nar­ios call for a rapid switch of the planet’s mag­netic poles, which does hap­pen ev­ery 500,000 years or so but isn’t sched­uled for 2012. Even if it were, Mr. Yeomans said, it would be a very grad­ual change that would have no worse ef­fect than re­quir­ing peo­ple to buy new com­passes.

Con­spir­acy the­o­rists also fear a mys­te­ri­ous gi­ant planet called Niburu, which, the story goes, will come dan­ger­ously close to Earth and wreak havoc. The ga­lac­tic trou­ble­maker, some say, has been kept un­der wraps by astronomers in or­der to avoid mass panic.

NASA has called that idea no more than “an In­ter­net hoax.”

“Can you imag­ine thou­sands of astronomers who ob­serve the skies on a nightly ba­sis keep­ing the same se­cret from the public?” Mr. Yeomans asked.

Fur­ther­more, he pointed out that, con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, the Mayan cal­en­dar does not ac­tu­ally end on Dec. 21, 2012, as has been widely re­ported by First World news out­lets, but in­stead en­ters a new phase.

“It’s just the end of a cy­cle ... just like on Dec. 31, our cal­en­dar comes to an end and a new cal­en­dar be­gins,” he said.

The video, which amassed more than 89,000 hits in just the past five days, is NASA’S lat­est at­tempt to ad­dress con­spir­a­cies head-on.

Last Septem­ber, the agency took aim at the widely panned movie “Apollo 18,” which pur­ported to use “found footage” of a top-se­cret 1972 lu­nar mis­sion that ended in fail­ure as Amer­i­can as­tro­nauts were killed by shape-shift­ing aliens.

Be­fore its re­lease, a NASA spokesman as­sured the public it was “not a doc­u­men­tary” and was based on no real event.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.