Washington, D.C. False rumors about the end of the world in 2012 have been commonplace on the Internet for some time. Many of these rumors involve the Mayan calendar ending in 2012 (it won’t), a comet causing catastrophic effects (definitely not), a hidden planet sneaking up and colliding with us (no and no), and many others, according to the U.S. government’s official blog.
The world will not end on Dec. 21, 2012, or any day in 2012.
Unfortunately, these rumors have many people frightened, especially children. NASA has received thousands of letters concerned about the end of the world. David Morrison, a planetary astronomer and senior scientist for NASA who answers questions from the public about astrobiology, says, “At least a once a week I get a message from a young person ― as young as 11 ― who says they are ill and/or contemplating suicide because of the coming doomsday.”
According to NASA, the old mystery-planet-collision rumor year was 2003, but when 2004 arrived safely, the rumors changed to 2012. So what end-of-the-world year will the rumor mill make up next?
NASA — Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the origin of the prediction that the world will end in 2012?
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 and 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 Dec. 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 Dec. 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on Dec. 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then — just as your calendar begins again on Jan. 1 — another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar.