Doomsday 2012 and Nibiru: 20 Questions Answered by Dr. David Morrison-Astrophysicist-Part 2

Part 2

This is part 2 of my article, Doomsday 2012 and Nibiru: 20 Questions Answered by Dr. David Morrison-Astrophysicist. Read part 1 here

11. When most of the planets align in 2012 and planet Earth is in the center of the Milky Way, what will the effects of this be on planet Earth? Could it cause a pole shift, and if so what could we expect?

There is no planet alignment in 2012 or any other time in the next several decades. As to the Earth being in the center of the Milky Way, I don’t know what this phrase means. If they are referring to the Milky Way Galaxy, we are some 30,000 light years from the center of this spiral galaxy. We circle the galactic center in a period of 225-250 million years, always keeping approximately the same distance. Concerning a pole shift, I also don’t know what this means. If it means some sudden change in the position of the pole (that is, the rotation axis of the Earth), then that is impossible, as noted above. What many websites do discuss is the alignment of the Earth and Sun with the center of the Milky Way in the constellation of Sagittarius. This happens every December, with no bad consequences, and there is no reason to expect 2012 to be different from any other year.

12. When the Sun and the Earth line up on the galactic plane at the same time with the black hole being in the center couldn ‘t that cause something to happen, due to the fact that the black hole has such a strong gravitational pull?

There is a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, and like any concentration of mass it exerts gravitational force on the rest of the galaxy. However, the galactic center is very far away, approximately 30,000 light years, so it has negligible effects on our solar system and Earth. There are no special forces from the galactic plane or the galactic center. The only important force that acts on the Earth is the gravitation of the Sun and Moon. As far as the influence of the galactic plane, there is nothing special about this location. The last time the Earth was in the galactic plane was several million years ago. Claims that we are about to cross the galactic plane are untrue.

13. I am scared about the fact that the Earth will enter the Dark Rift in the Milky Way. What will this do? Will the Earth be swallowed up?

The “dark rift” is a popular name for the broad and diffuse dust clouds in the inner arm of the Milky Way Galaxy, which block our view of the galactic center. The entire “galactic alignment” scare is ridiculous. Late in December the Sun is always approximately in the direction of the center of the Galaxy as seen from the Earth, but so what’ Apparently the scaremongers have decided to use these meaningless phrases about “alignments” and the “dark rift” and “photon belt” precisely because they are not understood by the public. As far as the safety of the Earth is concerned, the important threats are from global warming and loss of biological diversity, and perhaps someday from collision with an asteroid or comet, not the pseudoscientific claims about 2012.

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 approximately every 11 years), 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 us. Large outbursts can interrupt radio transmissions, 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.

It is true 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, on average, only once in 400,000 years.

15. I am confused about a report on the Fox News website that in 2012 a “Powerful Solar Storm Could Shut Down U.S. for Months.” They referred to a report from the National Academy of Sciences that was commissioned and paid for by NASA. If nothing is going to happen as a result of the event in 2012, why would NASA allow such nonsense to be reported?

NASA is pleased with the National Research Council report on heliophysics. As noted, this report includes a worst-case analysis of what could happen today if there were a repetition of the biggest solar storm ever recorded (in 1859). The problem is the way such information can be used out of context. There is no reason to expect such a large solar storm in the near future, certainly not in 2012 specifically. The reference to “the event in 2012” illustrates this problem. There is no prediction of an “event in 2012.” We don’t even know if the next solar maximum will take place in that year. The whole 2012 disaster scenario is a hoax, fueled by ads for the Hollywood science-fiction disaster film 2012. I can only hope that most people are able to distinguish Hollywood film plots from reality.

16. All my school friends are telling me that we are all going to the in the year 2012 due to a meteor hitting Earth. Is this true?

The Earth has always been subject to impacts by comets and asteroids (as has the Moon, as you can see because it has no atmosphere to erode the impact craters), 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 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 (neo.jpl.nasa.gov), so anyone can see that nothing is predicted to hit in 2012.

17. If Nibiru is a hoax, why doesn ‘t NASA issue a denial? How can you permit these stories to circulate and frighten people? Why doesn’t the US. government do something about it!

If you go to the NASA home page, nasa.gov, you will see many stories that expose the Nibiru-2012 hoax. Try searching nasa.com under “Nibiru” or “2012”. There is not much more that NASA can do. These hoaxes have nothing to do with NASA and are not based on NASA data, so we as an agency are not directly involved. But scientists, both within NASA and outside, recognize that this hoax with its effort to frighten people is a distraction from more important scientific concerns, such as global warming and loss of biological diversity. We live in a country where there is freedom of speech, and that includes the freedom to lie. We should be glad there are no censors. But if we will use common sense we can recognize the lies. As we approach 2012, the lies will be come even more obvious.

18. Can you prove to me that Nibiru is a hoax? There are so many reports that something terrible will happen in 2012. I need proof because the government and NASA are keeping so much from us.

Such questions should be put to the doomsday advocates to prove that what they are saying is true, not to NASA to prove it is false. If someone claimed on the Internet that there were 50-foot tall purple elephants walking through Cleveland, would anyone expect NASA to prove this wrong? The burden of proof falls on those who make wild claims. Remember the often-quoted comment from Carl Sagan that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

However, I think that astronomers have reached the point where we can offer extremely strong arguments that Nibiru does not exist. A large planet (or a brown dwarf) in our solar system would have been known to astronomers for many years, both indirectly from its gravitational perturbations on other objects and by direct detection in the infrared. The NASA Infrared Astronomy Satellite (IRAS) carried out the first allsky survey in 1983, and several subsequent surveys would also have seen Nibiru if it were there. Further, if a large mass passed through the inner solar system every 3600 years, we would see its disruptive effects on the orbits of the inner planets, and we don’t.

But don’t take my word for it. Just use common sense. Have you seen Nibiru? In 2008 many websites said it would be visible to the naked eye in spring 2009. If a large planet or brown dwarf were headed for the inner solar system in 2012, it would already be tracked by thousands of astronomers, both professional and amateur, all over the world. Do you know any amateur astronomers who are watching it’ Have you seen any photos or discussion of it in the big popular astronomy magazines such as Astronomy or Sky & Telescope? Just think about it. No one could hide something like Nibiru if it existed.

19. What about the scary ads for the new film 2012? They tell us to look at these Internet sites to verify the doomsday threat.

The pseudoscientific claims about Nibiru and a doomsday in 2012, together with distrust of the government, are being amplified by publicity for the new film from Columbia Pictures titled 2012, to be released in November 2009ยท The film’s trailer, appearing in theaters and on their website , shows a tidal wave breaking over the Himalayas, with the following words: “How would the governments of our planet prepare 6 billion people for the end of the world? Dong pause] They wouldn’t. Dong pause] Find out the Truth. Google search 2012.”

The film publicity includes a faux scientific website for “The Institute for Human Continuity” (www.insumteforhumancontinuity.org/), which is entirely fictitious. According to this website, the IHC is dedicated to scientific research and public preparedness. Its mission is the survival of humanity. The website explains that the Institute was founded in 1978 by international leaders of government, business, and science. They say that in 2004, IHC scientists confirmed with 94% certainty that the world would be destroyed in 2012. This website encourages people to register for a lottery to select those who will be saved; a colleague submitted the name of her cat, which was accepted. According to Wikipedia, creating this sort of fake website is a new advertising technique called “Viral Marketing,” by analogy with computer viruses.

20. Is it possible that the influx of questions you describe is part of some kind of campaign for a book or movie, in the hopes that the volume of denials is taken as more “evidence” that there is a conspiracy?

I ask myself the same questions every day, as the volume of mail I receive about Nibiru (along with various alignments and pole shifts) keeps increasing – now more than 20 per week. Clearly there is money to be made from people’s fear about an approaching doomsday. Many websites are selling books and tapes about Nibiru or even “survival kits.” It is all very sad, given the many real issues such as global warming and the financial collapse on which our attentions should be focused. In the final chapter of a new astronomy book (The Hunt for Planet X) Govert Shilling writes: “There is plenty to do for the debunkers – the archaeologists and astronomers who take a long and skeptical look at the tidal wave of Nibiru nonsense and explain with scientific precision what is wrong with this cosmic fairy-tale. They will have their work cut out in the next few years. And on December 22, 2012 there will be a new pseudoscientific cock-and-bull story making the rounds and the whole circus will start all over again, because no matter how many new celestial bodies are found in our solar system, there will always be a need for a mysterious Planet X.”

Read Part 1 here.

Article by Stunner

Main Contributor: Dr. David Morrison, Director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute

Dr. David Morrison is director of the Carl Sagan Center for Study of Life in the Universe at the SETI Institute, former director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute, and senior scientist at the NASA Astrobiology Institute, at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. He is the past Director of Space at NASA Ames. Morrison is credited as the founder of the multi-disciplinary field of astrobiology. Morrison is best known for his work in risk assessment of near Earth objects such as asteroids and comets. Asteroid 2410 Morrison was named in his honor for his work on the subject since 1991. Morrison also known for his “Ask an Astrobiologist” series on NASA’s website.

Contributor: Jim Donahue

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