1. What is the origin of the prediction that the world will end in December 2012?
The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. Zecharia Sitchin, who writes fiction
about the ancient Mesopotamian civilization of Sumer, claimed in several books (e.g., The Twelfth Planet, published in 1976) that he has found and
translated Sumerian documents that identify the planet Nibiru, orbiting the Sun every 3600 years. These Sumerian fables include stories of “ancient
astronauts” visiting Earth from a civilization of aliens called the Anunnaki. Then Nancy Lieder, a self-declared psychic who claims she is
channeling aliens, wrote on her website Zetatalk that the inhabitants of a fictional planet around the star Zeta Reticuli warned her that the Earth
was in danger from Planet X or Nibiru. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved
forward to December 2012. Only recently have these two fables been linked to the end of the Mayan long-count at the winter solstice in 2012 – hence
the predicted doomsday date of December 21, 2012.
2. The Sumerians were the first great civilization, and they made many accurate astronomical predictions, including the existence of the planets
Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. So why should we not believe their predictions about Nibiru?
Nibiru is a name in Babylonian astrology sometimes associated with the god Marduk. Nibiru appears as a minor character in the Babylonian creation poem
Enuma Elish as recorded in the library of Assurbanipal, King of Assyria (668-627 BCE). Sumer flourished much earlier, from about the 23rd century to
the 17th century BCE. The claims that Nibiru is a planet and was known to the Sumerians are contradicted by scholars who (unlike Zecharia Sitchin)
study and translate the written records of ancient Mesopotamia. Sumer was indeed a great civilization, important for the development of agriculture,
water management, urban life, and especially writing. However, they left very few records dealing with astronomy. Certainly they did not know about
the existence of Uranus, Neptune or Pluto. They also had no understanding that the planets orbited the Sun, an idea that first developed in ancient
Greece two millennia after the end of Sumer. Claims that Sumerians had a sophisticated astronomy, or that they even had a god named Nibiru, are the
product of Sitchin’s imagination.
Can you explain the fact that the area at (5h 53m 27s, -6 10’ 58”) has been blackened out in Google Sky and Microsoft Telescope? People suggest
that these have been blackened out because those are the co-ordinates where Nibiru is located at present.
Several people have asked me about this blank rectangle in Orion in Google Sky, which is a presentation of images from the Sloan Digital Survey. This
can’t be a “hiding place” for Nibiru, since it is a part of the sky that could be seen from almost everywhere on the Earth in the winter of
2007-08 when much of the talk about Nibiru began. That would contradict the claims that Nibiru was hiding behind the Sun or that it could be seen only
from the southern hemisphere. But I too was curious about this blank rectangle, so I asked a friend who is a senior scientist at Google. He replied
that he “found out that the missing data is due to a processing error in the image stitching program we use to display the Sloan survey images. The
team assures me that in the next run through, this will be fixed!”
10. 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 not hours?
Does this have something to do to do with our solar system dipping beneath the galactic equator?
A reversal in the rotation of Earth is impossible. It has never happened and never will. 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. But they falsely claim
that a magnetic reversal is coming soon (in 2012) and that this is the same as, or will trigger, a reversal of rotational poles. The bottom line is:
(a) Rotation direction and magnetic polarity are not related. (b) There is no reason to expect a reversal of magnetic polarity any time soon, or to
anticipate any bad effects on life when it does eventually happen. © A sudden shift in rotational pole with disastrous consequences is impossible.
Also, none of this has anything to do with the galactic equator or any of the other nonsense about alignments that appears on many of the conspiracy
14. I have heard that the Earth’s magnetic field will flip in 2012 just when the strongest level of solar storms in history is predicted to take
place. Will this kill us or destroy our civilization?
Near solar maximum (which happens every 11 years approximately), there are many more solar flares and coronal mass ejections than near solar minimum.
Flares and mass ejections are no danger for humans or other life on Earth. They could endanger astronauts in deep space or on the Moon, and this is
something that NASA must learn to deal with, but it is not a problem for you or me. Large outbursts can interrupt radio transmission, cause bright
displays of the aurora (Northern and Southern Lights), and damage the electronics of some satellites in space. Today many satellites are designed to
deal with this possibility, for example by switching off some of their more delicate circuits and going into a “safe” mode for a few hours. In
extreme cases solar activity can also disrupt electrical transmissions on the ground, possibly leading to electrical blackouts, but this is rare.
The last solar maximum occurred in 2001, so the next one was predicted for around 2012, 11 years later. However, the most recent solar minimum was
unusual, with a period of a couple of years with almost no sunspots or other indications of solar activity, so scientists now guess that the next
maximum will be delayed, perhaps to 2013. However, the details of the solar cycle remain basically unpredictable.
You are correct that the Earth’s magnetic field protects us by creating a large region in space, called the Earth’s magnetosphere, within which
most of the material ejected from the Sun is captured or deflected, but there is no reason to expect a reversal of magnetic polarity any time soon.
These magnetic reversals happen only once in 400,000 years on average.