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L.A. Now Live: NASA debunks Dec. 21 'end of the world' fears

NASA said it has been flooded with calls and emails from people asking about the purported end of the world -- which, as the doomsday myth goes, is apparently set to take place Friday, Dec. 21. And the space agency has one simple response: "The world will not end in 2012."

Join Times reporter Kate Mather will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. to discuss NASA's efforts to debunk the myth.

The myth might have originated with the Maya calendar, but in the age of the Internet and social media, it proliferated online, raising questions and concerns among hundreds of people around the world who have turned to NASA for answers.

Dwayne Brown, an agency spokesman, said NASA typically receives about 90 calls or emails per week containing questions from people. In recent weeks, he said, that number has skyrocketed -- up to 300 people are contacting NASA per day to ask about the end of the world.

"Who's the first agency you would call?" he said. "You're going to call NASA."

The questions range from myth (Will a rogue planet crash into Earth? Is the sun going to explode? Will there be three days of darkness?) to the macabre (Brown said some people have "embraced it so much" they want to hurt themselves). So, he said, NASA decided to do "everything in our power" to set the facts straight.

That effort included interviews with scientists posted online and a Web page that Brown said has drawn more than 4.6 million views.

It also involved a video titled "Why the World Didn't End Yesterday." Though the title of the video implies a Dec. 22 release date, Brown said NASA posted the four-minute clip last week to help spread its message.

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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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