We all know that the world is going to end in December 2012 because a giant solar eruption is going to swallow the Earth. Or is it supposed to be the implosion of the Yellowstone Caldera? Reversal of the global poles? Does anybody even care about how the Earth will end if we are all doomed anyway?
Apparently, yes. NASA has set up a Frequently Asked Questions page on its website to answer questions pertaining to the end of existence. According to NASA, there is no scientific evidence that the world is going to end in 2012. Contrary to popular beliefs, put your trust in science and do not set up the foundations for that underground bunker just yet.
The 2012 Armageddon myth dates back to the Mayans. Yet, the Mayans never actually predicted the end of the earth. The nature of the Mayan calendar is that it functions on a series of cycles, some short and some quite long. One of the longer cycles of the calendar ends in 2012. Hence, when people say that the apocalypse will come in 2012 "because the Mayan calendar ends," this is to what they are referring. The fact of the matter is that the Mayan calendar does not end in 2012. Just a cycle of it does. In the nature of cycles, the calendar starts over after the termination in December 2012. (Picture: Yellowstone Caldera)
NASA reaffirms this: "Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after December 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on December 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then - just as your calendar begins again on January 1 - another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar."
There is also the notion of the "Nibiru collision." Some say this dates back to ancient Sumerian and Babylonian texts, it was actually an idea put forth by Nancy Lieder of the website ZetaTalk in 1995. Nibiru, or the infamous "Planet X" was supposed to crash into the Earth in 2003, causing a pole shift that would bring and end to world. The name "Nibiru" comes from study done by author Zecharia Sitchin based on his interpretation of Babylonian texts. Nibiru is supposed to pass by Earth every 3,600 years and its alien inhabitants come to our planet to rule as gods.
There is no Nibiru. Scientists have thoroughly debunked the idea of the "12th Planet." NASA says that there are no planetary alignments in the future that could cause harm to the Earth, let alone in 2012. There is a dwarf-sized planet located within the outer regions (the Kuiper Belt) of our solar system called Eris that some apocalyptic theorists says could impact the planet. NASA says that this simply could not happen.
"Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an Internet hoax. There is no factual basis for these claims. If Nibiru or Planet X were real and headed for an encounter with the Earth in 2012, astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be visible by now to the naked eye. Obviously, it does not exist. Eris is real, but it is a dwarf planet similar to Pluto that will remain in the outer solar system; the closest it can come to Earth is about 4 billion miles."
What about a giant solar eruption? This theory was put into play in the movie "2012" starring John Cusack among others. Basically, a solar eruption destroys the Earth, causing the Yellowstone Caldera to erupt, the poles to reverse, all the continents begin shifting and are swallowed by the oceans. When it comes to apocalyptic thrillers, "2012" is easily one of the best. It is followed closely by other extra-terrestrial thrillers like "Independence Day" and "War Of The Worlds."
NASA says that its satellites are in more danger of solar activity than our little blue orb, "Solar activity has a regular cycle, with peaks approximately every 11 years. Near these activity peaks, solar flares can cause some interruption of satellite communications, although engineers are learning how to build electronics that are protected against most solar storms. But there is no special risk associated with 2012. The next solar maximum will occur in the 2012-2014 time frame and is predicted to be an average solar cycle, no different than previous cycles throughout history."
What should people fear about the possibility of The End coming in 2012? Do not look to the heavens. Look to your neighbors and the people you see on the street. The notions of apocalypse brings out the crazies. They load up survival gear, sell off their possessions, cause general hysteria. People are the biggest threat to your well-being. When it comes to the Internet, watch out for spam, scams, malware, phishers and poisoned websites that breed on the hysteria or curiosity of the public.
Please, do not drink the Kool-Aid.
"For any claims of disaster or dramatic changes in 2012, where is the science? Where is the evidence?" NASA asks. "There is none, and for all the fictional assertions, whether they are made in books, movies, documentaries or over the Internet, we cannot change that simple fact. There is no credible evidence for any of the assertions made in support of unusual events taking place in December 2012."
Bonus: A video created that I created with Boston University classmate Ashleigh Costanza when we were in graduate school. We asked Mayan experts, theologians, people on the street and other investigators to weigh in on The End and what people should be worried about. Check it out.