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NASA weighs in on apocalypse debate

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By Jay Miller

SANTA FE – This is the month the world is supposed to end. Doomsday prophets have been predicting it for centuries – at least since the ancient Sumerians who thought a planet was headed toward Earth. But for some reason December 2012 has become a very popular target.
So popular, in fact, that NASA has found it necessary to explain that the world as we know it will not end any time soon. It will not end because of the Mayan calendar, a polar shift, a meteor, a solar storm, a super nova, planetary alignment or a reversal in the rotation of the earth.
The most popular dates for The End are Dec. 21-25. Most popular of all is Dec. 21, possibly because it also is the winter solstice. There likely are predictions for today, 12-12-12; possibly because it is the last time this century that such a duplication of numbers is possible.
Personally I align with the group that considers such dates lucky. County clerks reported that 11-11-11 was a favorite day for obtaining marriage licenses. We’ll have extra reason to celebrate the beginning of a new year because we will have once again averted The Apocalypse.
NASA even ventured into dangerous philosophical territory by declaring that the world has been getting along just fine for more than four billion years and that credible scientists see no threat associated with 2012.
The end of the 5,000-year old Mayan calendar likely is what caused the fixation on the end of times. Various “authorities” began calculating the end date to be in late December 2012.
Several years ago, my wife and I visited Guatemala and Belize. Mayan guides in both countries already had grown tired of answering questions about their calendar ending. They began their presentations by saying Mayans know how to make a new calendar.
Another concern NASA addresses is an alignment of the earth and sun with the approximate center of the Milky Way Galaxy will cause all sorts of calamities in December. Such alignment will occur – but it happens every December.
Then there is the polar-shift theory. Some believers say the earth will start rotating the opposite direction. That would be a calamity, but also impossible.
The magnetic poles do wander around irregularly but without doing any harm to the Earth. The magnetic poles do completely reverse every 400,000 years or so but scientists don’t think they have caused any harm to life on Earth.
As far as hits by comets and asteroids are concerned, NASA has a Spaceguard Survey to identify anything that might be heading our way. Results are reported daily on NASA’s website for all to see.
What about Planet X headed our way? NASA says that if any planet left its orbit and headed toward Earth we would know a very long time in advance and it would be major news.
What about solar storms impacting us? NASA says solar storm activity peaks every 11 years and we are nearing a peak.
Communications are sometimes interrupted but we are learning to build electronics capable of withstanding almost anything.
That pretty well takes care of anything related to NASA. It doesn’t include political possibilities. A Third World War, said to be predicted by Nostradamus, could end in a nuclear holocaust. We have been able to avoid such an event. Terrorists could unleash the genie but not likely on a scale that would destroy the world.
Earthquakes and weather events have become more numerous, leading some to predict Judgment Day is coming. Those predictions have been coming for a long time and none appear likely to happen before the month ends.
What is happening, however, is that companies selling survival supplies are prospering. Their ads promote kits that last for a month to a year. That wouldn’t do much for a worldwide earth-shaking event but the kits are bound to look good to people back East who have been without power since Sandy hit.
Jay Miller is a syndicated columnist based in Santa Fe.