No Doomsday in 2012, but Lots of Profits for Purveyors of Doom
For several months, NASA and many astronomers have received increasingly worried letters and e-mails from members of the public about the possibility, widely touted on the Internet, that the world will end in 2012. Many mechanisms for doomsday are being proposed, including a collision with a fictional planet called Nibiru, deadly activity on the surface of the sun that lashes out at Earth, alignments with the center of our galaxy, etc. David Morrison has coined the term “cosmophobia” -- fear of the cosmos -- for these concerns, and has seen a huge increase in the phenomenon this year.
Dr. Morrison, a world-renowned expert on the solar system (and asteroid impacts), also serves as the public scientist for NASA’s “Ask an Astrobiologist” service, where he answers questions for the public. He has received so many questions about 2012 and the end of the world, that he felt he had to investigate and set the record straight.
Morrison’s article is in the form of questions and answers, and is followed by a resource guide that allows readers to find even more scientific information about why no 2012 disaster is in the cards. There are many reasons to worry about the future of planet Earth, of course, but absolutely no reason to single out the winter solstice of 2012 as a special time to be concerned.
For an annotated guide of resources for responding to claims of astronomical pseudo-science, from astrology to crop circles, and ancient astronauts to moon-landing denial, see: http://www.astrosociety.org/education/resources/pseudobib.html
Listen to David Morrison's NPR interview about the 2012 catastrophe rumors
This story has been translated into Portuguese.