2012: Beginning of the End or
Why the World Won't End?
"There apparently is a great deal of interest in celestial bodies,
and their locations and trajectories at the end of the calendar year
2012. Now, I for one love a good book or movie as much as the next guy.
But the stuff flying around through cyberspace, TV and the movies is not
based on science. There is even a fake NASA news release out there..."
NASA Report. Remember the Y2K scare? It came and went without much of a
whimper because of adequate planning and analysis of the situation.
Impressive movie special effects aside, Dec. 21, 2012, won't be the end
of the world as we know. It will, however, be another winter solstice.
Much like Y2K, 2012 has been analyzed and the science of the end of the
Earth thoroughly studied. Contrary to some of the common beliefs out
there, the science behind the end of the world quickly unravels when
pinned down to the 2012 timeline. Below, NASA Scientists answer several
questions that we're frequently asked regarding 2012.
Question (Q): Are there any threats to the Earth in 2012? Many
Internet websites say the world will end in December 2012.
Answer (A): Nothing bad will happen to the Earth in 2012. Our
planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years,
and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with
Q: What is the origin of the prediction that the world will end
A: The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet
discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. This catastrophe
was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the
doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012. Then these two fables
were linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan
calendar at the winter solstice in 2012 -- hence the predicted doomsday
date of December 21, 2012.
Q: Does the Mayan calendar end in December 2012?
A: Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not
cease to exist after December 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to
exist on December 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count
period but then -- just as your calendar begins again on January 1 --
another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar.
Q: Could a phenomena occur where planets align in a way that
A: There are no planetary alignments in the next few decades,
Earth will not cross the galactic plane in 2012, and even if these
alignments were to occur, their effects on the Earth would be
negligible. Each December the Earth and sun align with the approximate
center of the Milky Way Galaxy but that is an annual event of no
- Don Yeomans, NASA senior research scientist
Q: Is there a planet or brown dwarf called Nibiru or Planet X or
Eris that is approaching the Earth and threatening our planet with
A: Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are 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. Eris is real, but it is a dwarf planet similar to Pluto that will
remain in the outer solar system; the closest it can come to Earth is
about 4 billion miles.
Q: What is the polar shift theory? Is it true that the earth’s
crust does a 180-degree rotation around the core in a matter of days if
A: 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. However, many of the
disaster websites pull a bait-and-shift to fool people. They claim a
relationship between the rotation and the magnetic polarity of Earth,
which does change irregularly, with a magnetic reversal taking place
every 400,000 years on average. As far as we know, such a magnetic
reversal doesn’t cause any harm to life on Earth. A magnetic reversal is
very unlikely to happen in the next few millennia, anyway.
Q: Is the Earth in danger of being hit by a meteor in 2012?
A: The Earth has always been subject to impacts by comets and
asteroids, although big hits are very rare. The last big impact was 65
million years ago, and that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Today NASA astronomers are carrying out a survey called the Spaceguard
Survey to find any large near-Earth asteroids long before they hit. We
have already determined that there are no threatening asteroids as large
as the one that killed the dinosaurs. All this work is done openly with
the discoveries posted every day on the NASA NEO Program Office website,
so you can see for yourself that nothing is predicted to hit in 2012.
Q: How do NASA scientists feel about claims of pending doomsday?
A: 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.
Q: Is there a danger from giant solar storms predicted for 2012?
A: Solar activity has a regular cycle, with peaks approximately
every 11 years. Near these activity peaks, solar flares can cause some
interruption of satellite communications, although engineers are
learning how to build electronics that are protected against most solar
storms. But there is no special risk associated with 2012. The next
solar maximum will occur in the 2012-2014 time frame and is predicted to
be an average solar cycle, no different than previous cycles throughout
Addition information concerning 2012 is available on the Web, at:
NASA Astrobiology Institute: "Nibiru and Doomsday 2012"
Bad Astronomy: "The Planet X Saga: The Scientific Arguments in a
Sky and Telescope Magazine: "2012: The Great Scare"