Debunking conspiracy theories
Oh boy, it's this time of the year again: grab your supplies and head on to the bunker, cause the world is ending - again. The popular Mayan conspiracy theory that the world is ending on December 21 has made a surprisingly high number of adept, and NASA had to step in. They released quite an interesting post, explaining why this is all just shenanigans. First up, the Mayan calendar:
Their calendar does not end on Dec. 21, 2012. It's just the end of the cycle and the beginning of a new one. It's just like on Dec. 31st, our calendar comes to an end but a new calendar for the next year begins on Jan. 1st.
The belief that a now extinct civilization could somehow predict the end of the world thousands of years after their demise does seem a little sci-fi itself. Second up: the giant devastating planet Nibiru.
Niburu is suppose to be a planet that's four times the size of the Earth. It's going to get very close to the Earth and cause all kinds of disasters. So this enormous planet is suppose to be coming toward Earth, but if it were, we would've seen it long ago and if it were invisible somehow, we would've seen the affects of this planet on neighboring planets. Thousands of astronomers who scan the night skies on a daily basis have not seen this.
Aha! But wait, some will say, I know what's going on here - you're keeping it all covered up. Seriously, let's use a little common sense; thousands of astronomers keeping the secret for several years? Every nation, every space agency, every amateur astronomer just hiding it all? Makes sense.
As if that wasn't enough, other folks are scared of solar flares. Well as NASA themselves explain, the next solar activity will be in May 2013 - fairly mild, nothing serious to be expected. But who can overlook the other theory, that some sort of planetary alignment will cause devastating tidal effects on our planet? First of all, there's no planetary alignment on Dec 21; and even if there were, the effect other planets would have is truly negligible, much smaller than that of the Moon.
I've saved the best for last; some people actually believe that on Dec 21, the Earth's poles will shift and all sorts of devastating stuff is going to happen. As a geologist, I can clear things here fine, thank you. The Earth's poles have shifted hundreds or thousands of time in its history; it is a cycle, one that takes places in hundreds of thousands of years, and the shift itself takes millennia to happen, so we're in the clear here too.
So there you have it people, the odds of any of those things happening is about the same as giant cosmic panda bears with panda weapons show up and bring pandamonium to Earth. Love your friends and family, be kind to them, do what want in life and enjoy it - that's all.