If the venerable television series “Star Trek” has taught us one thing, it’s that the holodeck will never work properly and you should never go
in there. But if it’s taught us two things, the second must be that space is the final frontier. Even when we’ve managed to learn everything there
is to know about Earth, there will still be mysteries to explore in space. Are there intelligent species living far beyond our solar system? What
exactly is dark matter? Could wormholes hold the secret to faster-than-light travel?The answers to these questions — and others that we haven’t
thought of yet — await us in space.
[size=12]The Dead Cosmonaut
During the 1960s, the Soviet Union and United States raced to become the world leader in space exploration. The winner would be able to claim
technological superiority over the other. The Soviet Union had the early edge: In 1957, it launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite. In 1961,
the Soviet Union dealt the American space program another blow when cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. But, according to the
Judica-Cordiglia brothers from Italy, Gagarin wasn’t the first.The brothers set up a listening station in Italy to intercept communication
transmissions between ground operations and spacecraft for both American and Soviet missions. Weeks before Gagarin’s successful flight, the brothers
claimed to have detected and recorded radio transmissions of a cosmonaut slowly dying while adrift in space. The Soviet Union denied the brothers’
claim. Supporters of the theory believe the Soviet government hid the cosmonaut’s death to preserve the country’s reputation as a leader in space
exploration. The truth remains a mystery, though the recordings are available online, if you’re curious to hear for yourself.
Some people believe that the Earth’s North and South poles weren’t always located where they are now. They believe the Earth once rotated on a
different axis. Others say that the Earth always rotated about its polar axis, but that the Earth’s crust shifts so that the land located at each
pole changes. Climate change, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions result from stresses on the Earth’s crust during the shift. Some claim that the
Earth will soon experience another dramatic polar shift, and that, as a result, entire continents might sink while new ones emerge from the sea.The
location of the North Pole over the years — it’s shifted, but it hasn’t caused a disaster.
The polar shift hypothesis enters the world of conspiracy theories when some claim that top governments and scientists know of the impending
shift but refuse to share the information with the public. Supposedly, they’re keeping it a secret to avoid causing a panic. Skeptics dismiss polar
shift hypotheses, saying that there’s no real scientific basis for them.
[size=12]2012 and the End of the World
We can blame it all on the Mayans. They created the Long Count Calendar, a time measurement system that had spiritual significance to their culture.
They organized their calendar into several cycles, the last of which will end in December 2012. Some people think the Mayans had discovered that after
2012, the world would end.
There are dozens of theories about how this might happen. Some claim that 2012 is when the Earth will experience a polar shift (see above). Others say
that after 2012, the Earth will experience a period of terrible destruction followed by a new age of peace and enlightenment. A few claim that in
2012, a secret government will accomplish its goal of total world domination. What will actually happen? Check back with us on Jan. 1, 2013.