Dec. 21, 2012: NASA dispels 'end of world' theories with video
With segments of the population worrying that today, Dec. 21, 2012, will mark the end of the world, NASA has pulled out all the stops to answer questions from those concerned the apocalypse is imminent.
The space agency has a Web page devoted to debunking the myth and has made scientists available for interviews. They've also produced several videos posted online, including one confidently titled, "Why the World Didn't End Yesterday."
Though the title of the video implies a Dec. 22 release date, NASA spokesman Dwayne Brown said the four-minute clip was purposefully posted last week to help the agency spread its message: Dec. 21 will be a normal day.
"Dec., 22, 2001. If you're watching this video, it means one thing: The world didn't end yesterday," the video begins.
The video goes on to cite information from Dr. John Carlson, director of the Center for Archaeoastronomy at the University of Maryland. (Archaeoastronomy, for the uninformed, is the study of "astronomical practices, celestial lore, mythologies, religions and world-views of all ancient cultures," per the center's website.)
Carlson explains how the Mayan calendar became linked to the doomsday myth. Many believe that because the calendar "ends" on Dec. 21, 2012, the world too will end on that day. But, Carlson says, the Mayan calendar will essentially roll over on this day.
In other words, the calendar won't end, Carlson says, and neither will the world.
"None of the thousands of ruins, tables and standing stones that archeologists have examined foretell an end of the world," the video says.
Don't believe Carlson? You should, NASA said. The video cites his credentials, calling him a "hard-nosed scientist" who began studying the 2012 theory 35 years ago.
And if that isn't convincing enough, the video goes on to cite scientists who dispel a few of the other end-of-the-world scenarios floating around, saying no asteroids, comets or rogue planets are on a "collision course" with Earth, and solar flares won't be a problem.
Brown said NASA typically receives about 90 calls or emails per week containing questions from people. In recent weeks, he said, that number has skyrocketed — 200 to 300 people are contacting NASA per day to ask about the end of the world.
"We're doing all that we can do to let the world know that as far as NASA and science go, Dec. 21 will be another day," Brown said.
— Kate Mather