The apocalypse is not scheduled for December 21, 2012, according to NASA.
Scientists at the US space agency are taking an unusual swipe at doomsday crackpottery this week in an online campaign designed to address fears fueled by the end of a cycle in the ancient Mayan calendar, a Hollywood movie, and a fresh wave of pseudo-science wankers.
"Nothing bad will happen to the Earth in 2012," NASA states* in a new FAQ web page set up for the occasion. "Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists know of no threat associated with 2012."
The space boffins are taking aim at a popular end-of-days scenario given credence on various center-justified websites (the crazy man's calling card) that a planet called Nibiru or Planet X will collide with Earth during the 2012 holiday season, wreaking havoc and devastation on an unparalleled scale. The story goes that NASA has been secretly tracking this rogue planet since 1983 but has suppressed all news of its existence across the world in the name of "global security."
NASA says this tale is factually untrue. Of course, that's just what you'd expect them to say...
"The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth," NASA said. "This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012."
The December date was fingered because it coincides with the end of end of the Mayan long-count calendar at the winter solstice in 2012, which already has a doomsday following. It's further pumped by an upcoming Hollywood disaster flick based on global destruction in 2012.
NASA calls such tales of Nibiru and other hushed-up wayward planets nothing more than 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."
NASA also rejects the "polar shift theory" for the date, where the Earth's crust makes a 180-degree rotation around the core in a matter of days or hours.
"A reversal in the rotation of Earth is impossible. There are slow movements of the continents (for example Antarctica was near the equator hundreds of millions of years ago), but that is irrelevant to claims of reversal of the rotational poles," NASA said.
It claims that many of the disaster websites "pull a bait-and-shift to fool people," claiming there's relationship between the rotation of the magnetic polarity of Earth (which does change irregularly) with a magnetic reversal (which occurs once every 400,000 years or so).
"As far as we know, such a magnetic reversal doesn't cause any harm to life on Earth," NASA said. "A magnetic reversal is very unlikely to happen in the next few millennia, anyway."
The space agency furthermore dismisses that its hiding news of any massive meteors making a touch-down on Earth, saying NEO Program Office website keeps a record of any discoveries for public viewing.
"For any claims of disaster or dramatic changes in 2012, where is the science? Where is the evidence? 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," NASA said.
But then, if Quetzalcoatl does rise from the ruins to destroy us all, nobody will be left to say "I told you so." They'll win either way.
You can catch additional 2012 doomsday skepticism from NASA here. ®
*That statement does seem a tad far-reaching, though. But maybe we're too literal.