If you are an amateur astronomer, and you haven’t been asked about “What’s going to happen in 2012?” by someone yet, then I’d like to know if there’s any room left for me under the rock that you’ve been hiding under. Beginning in 2007, during my school classroom visits to 5th grade classes, I noted a change in the questions I was being asked in the Q&A session at the end. Before that point, most of the questions had been your typical 5th grade fare: “What would happen to you if you fell into a black hole?” or “What would happen to you if you went into space without a space suit?”, and other things of that nature.
However, I started hearing about rumors that the kids had heard, or shows that they had seen on television that said that the world was going to end soon. I was a little startled by this. Being a computer geek, I was familiar with the Y2K fiasco (having had lived through it personally and professionally), all of the doomsday predictions for that which didn’t come true, and all of the money wasted on useless “certifications of compliance”. I even had one server I deliberately didn’t patch and proudly showed it to my boss on January 2nd, blithely ticking along, doing its job, even though it thought it was the year 100 AD.
I brushed aside their questions, saying something like “Oh, that’s not going to happen.” and went on my way. However, in 2008 the questions were back, and there were more of them. This time, the kids actually seemed a bit frightened. So, I did some ‘research’ (meaning I went and typed ‘2012′ into my favorite search engine) and started reading what came up.
What I found was the most gawd-awful mishmash of half-truths, outright lies, impossible claims, and special pleading I have ever seen. It’s gone downhill since then.
I’ve you’ve come to this site, and are concerned about 2012, or if you believe that some cataclysmic disaster is going to strike in 2012, then this is the place for you, because I’m going to tell you the truth.
Here it is: 2012 is a hoax!
I mean, certainly, there will be a year 2012, but all of the doomsday predictions about it are wrong. It’s a hoax. It’s a fraud. It’s a con job. It’s a cruel and cynical lie being promoted by unscrupulous pseudo-scientific cranks who have a monetary interest: They want to sell their claptrap books, their worthless ’survival kits’, and space in their non-existent ‘2012 shelters’ in Antarctica. It’s also being pushed by people who are promoting yet another vapid Hollywood disaster movie due out later this year. As Ben Tremblay of Daily Common Sense says, “2012 is a business”.
Before I get into the “What” I want to give you a bit of “Why”. Why am I doing this? Why have I written some 8400 words on this subject and pushed it so hard on Yahoo! Answers, Twitter, and other social media sites?
Because the 2012 hoax is dangerous! It is a rumor that is spreading like wildfire in a very vulnerable segment of the population: Elementary and middle-school students. Why is it dangerous? Perhaps the best way to communicate it is to give an example. In September, 2008, Chayya, a 16 year old girl in India, committed suicide by drinking insecticide. She was distraught and depressed, having been convinced by poorly done and over-hyped media reports that the start-up of the Large Hadron Collider would cause a ‘miniature big bang’ and destroy the world.
What you write and what you say can have profound effects on other people. If someone is saying that the world will end in a disaster in 2012, and if someone else takes their own life because of it, then in my opinion, the person spreading this kind of irresponsible rumor is partially to blame for the suicide!
By all means, if you’ve come here as a believer, and think that you have evidence for any claims about 2012, please feel free to leave me a comment. I will not ridicule you. I will discuss your evidence at length, for as long as you are willing.
Well, as it turns out, it’s all the Mayan’s fault. No, really. When they devised their calendar they made it with an expiration date. The 2012 date represents the end of a major cycle in the Mayan calendar. First, a bit of background:
The Mayan calendar system was particularly accurate and complex for its time. It was adopted by other Mesoamerican civilizations, such as the Aztecs and Toltec in lieu of their own. - Stuart Robbins, Planet X & 2012: Primer on the Mayan Calendar, Retrieved 2009-03-25
Now, remember that phrase: “… for its time.” Some people are using the supposed accuracy of the Mayan calendar to claim that they obviously had everything right, where our modern calendar has it wrong. I’ve seen outrageous claims made about the accuracy of the Mayan calendar: that it kept in perfect sync without intercalary (”leap”) days, that it is more accurate than the modern calendar, that it kept perfect time over thousands of years.
This is bunk. No calendar ever devised can do away with intercalary days, for several reasons, but the primary reasons are:
No astronomical year has an integer number of days or lunar months, so any calendar that follows an astronomical year must have a system of intercalation such as leap years. – Wikipedia: Year; Calendar Year – Retreived 2009.04.21
The number of mean solar days in a vernal equinox year has been oscillating between 365.2424 and 365.2423 for several millennia and will likely remain near 365.2424 for a few more. - Wikipedia: Tropical Year – Retrieved 2009-03-25
That last number is the reason why no calendar can do without intercalary days, unless the calendar is going to ignore the seasons. That usually doesn’t work out too well, since predicting things like when it’s going to rain, or when it’s going to be dry, when the caribou will come back, or when you should plant your corn is the purpose of the calendar in the first place! So, because our year is about (but not quite) 1/4 of a day longer than 365 days, the Gregorian calendar has a leap year, a year with an extra day, every four years (the complete rules are a bit more complex than that). Because of other influences, you may hear from time to time that a ‘leap second’ is being added or subtracted from the atomic clocks. This constant fiddling with the calendar is necessary to keep it accurate and does not indicate that it is inaccurate.
There is evidence to suggest the Maya were aware that the vague year differed slightly from the actual solar year, but no evidence they actually did something about it. – David L. Mills, PhD, The Classic Maya Calendar and Day Numbering System, Retrieved 2009-03-25
The 260-day sacred year or tzolkin consists of 13 months of 20 days, while the 365-day vague year or haab, consists of 18 months of 20 days followed by an intercalary “month” of five days called the haab. - ibid
Whoops? What was that? An intercalary month? So, I contend that the Maya calendar was less accurate than the modern Gregorian calendar, from any reasonable definition of ‘accurate’.
So what’s the deal with the so called “end of the calendar?”:
Apparently it has to do with the creation myth of the Mayans. From Wikipedia:
According to the //Popol Vuh//, a book compiling details of creation accounts known to the K’iche’ Maya of the Colonial-era highlands, we are living in the fourth world. The Popol Vuh describes the first three creations that the gods failed in making and the creation of the successful fourth world where men were placed. In the Maya Long Count, the previous creation ended at the start of a 13th b’ak’tun.
The previous creation ended on a long count of 18.104.22.168.19. Another 22.214.171.124.19 will occur on December 20, 2012, followed by the start of the fourteenth b’ak’tun, 126.96.36.199.0, on December 21, 2012. – Wikipedia: Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar - Retreived 2009-03-16
This forms the basis for a prediction by the “new age” guru José Argüelles that a cataclysm will take place on or about December 21, 2012. There are a few problems with this.
First, mainstream Mayanist scholars consider this a gross misinterpretation. There is no evidence that the Mayans thought anything was going to happen on this date (other than a big party):
“For the ancient Maya, it was a huge celebration to make it to the end of a whole cycle,” says Sandra Noble, executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. in Crystal River, Florida. – ibid
To her, the entire ‘2012 doomsday’ is “a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in.” I’ll also note that __this calendar is still being used by some cultures in the highlands of Guatemala! __There are no reports of preparations for doomsday.
Susan Milbrath, curator of Latin American Art and Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, says:
“We [the archaeological community] have no record or knowledge that [the Maya] would think the world would come to an end” in 2012. – ibid.
Second: The B’ak’tun date 188.8.131.52.0 is not the “end of the calendar” we’ve heard so much about. It is the end of a cycle of 144,000 days, or 394 solar years. The calendar is mostly base-20, except in the second position, which clicks over to zero when it reaches 18 ( Try going to this site and typing in the Gregorian date 4772/10/15 ).
Third: Some Mayan inscriptions reference dates after 2012! What? Wait? How is that possible? Because, dear reader, the Mayan Calendar also has four “rarely used” (which is not the same as “non-existent”) higher order cycles!
As mentioned in the Syntax section, there are also four rarely-used higher-order periods above the b’ak’tun: piktun, kalabtun, k’inchiltun, and alautun.
It is a matter of dispute whether the first piktun occurs after 13 or after 20 b’ak’tun. Most Mayanists think that in the majority of inscriptions, where only the last five Long Count positions are used, the count recycles at 13 b’ak’tuns, whereas, if longer cycles are used, the count continues to the end of the 20th b’ak’tun (b’ak’tun 19) before a piktun is registered.citation needed//] In the same way, the fact that a 13-katun cycle was used, didn’t negate the fact that there are 20 katuns in a b’ak’tun.- ibid.
In their book A forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya (Quill, 1990) the Mayan scholars Linda Schele and David Freidel contend that the end of the current Mayan long count is not due until day 184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.0.0.0.0 ( counting from the theoretical end of the previous world in 3114 BC ). Each column is equal to twenty times its predecessor, so that date lies some 41,341,049,999,999,999,999,999,994,879 years in the future!
It should be noted here that there are several unanswered questions with regard to interpreting the Mayan calendar dates, and that this is a field of ongoing research. It should also be noted that Argüelles hedges his bets when he talks about the date. It may be (according to Argüelles) that 2012 is not a cataclysm after all, but the beginning of a ’spritual awakening’ (Woo, woo! Cue the harp and flute music!).
So, what does the non-ending of the Mayan calendar have to do with the real world? As it turns out, plenty. First mix in a bit of astrology, add some scientific half-truths, some numerology, baseless claims, and utter nonsense, then shake.
There are a horde of claims now being made for the December solstice, 2012. Most of these claims are impossible, many of the rest are such nonsense that “impossible” can’t even begin to cover it. Many of these claims are simply rehashed claims made during prior doomsday predictions. Some of them are overt rip-offs of prior doomsday predictions.
Here are some things that have been claimed will happen in 2012, but won’t, particularly December 21st and/or 23rd:
Planetary alignments: Remember the Harmonic Convergence? That was supposed to be a Mayan/Planetary Alignment thing too. The problem is that there aren’t any ‘alignments’, except for the normal conjunctions that happen every year. For a good page on what exactly is meant by ‘alignments’ (and some of the pseudo-scientific claims about them) take a look at this page by Dr. Donald Luttermoser at East Tennessee State University. In 2012 there will be no alignments that are particularly spectacular, and definitely not ‘all of the planets lined up in a row on one side of the sun’. Some sites claim that ‘unique alignments will cause sunspots and massive earthquakes’. The problem is that planetary alignments do not cause sunspots, and do not cause earthquakes.
In fact, many of the claimed alignments are simply fiction! Here’s a quote (from a site that shall remain unlinked)
The solar cycle of 2012 is more significant than any other for several reasons:
1. During this time the two biggest planets in our solar system, Saturn and Jupiter, will be in line with each other. The gravitational effects of the two planets on the Sun will cause it to wobble during it’s pole shift. This can have huge effects on the magnitude of the CME’s the Sun will be tossing into space. The Earth regularly gets hit with small CME’s and research says that the increased magnitude of these CME’s are one of the major causes of global warming, and changes in the ecosystem.
See the text I’ve highlighted? This is simply wrong! Saturn and Jupiter are __**not**__ going to be in conjunction in 2012! Not even close! And, even if they were, the Sun contains 99.8% of the mass of the solar system. It outweighs everything else put together and then quite a bit more. Saying that a planetary alignment will cause the Sun to “wobbe durint it’s pole shift”, or cause sunspots, or solar flares, or have an effect on the Sun’s rotation or magnetic field, is rather like saying that flies could pull apart a bowling ball simply by flying around it.
The ‘earthquakes’ claim appears to be that the gravitational influence of the non-existent alignments will cause earthquakes on Earth. However, the moon is much closer to us than any other astronomical object, so even though it is much smaller and lighter, it completely swamps out any gravitational or tidal effects caused by the Sun, Jupiter, Saturn, or any other object. The Sun does cause tides on the Earth, and when these tides are combined with the moon tides (at the full and new moons) then they are called ’spring tides’. When they are counter to the moon’s tides (at the first and last quarter moons) then they are called ‘neap tides’. The primary influence on the Earth’s tides is the Moon. Other planets are too small and too far away to cause any measurable effect.
The site goes on to say:
2. Right now the Sun’s south magnetic pole is in line with the Earth’s north magnetic pole. Since opposites attract, the Sun, along with it’s gravitational influence from Saturn and Jupiter, may cause the Earth to switch magnetic poles too! With the magnetic field of the Earth switching in a matter of minutes, there can be huge disruptions in the Earth’s geological and ecological system. It can cause mass earthquakes and volcano eruptions all over the world. After it’s all done, compasses will point South, the Sun will rise in the West and set in the East. But remember, this is a magnetic switch only.
First of all, the magnetic field of the Earth is not dictated by the magnetic field of the Sun, or by the gravity of the Sun, or Jupiter, or Saturn. It is dictated by the magnetic geodynamo in the Earth’s core. Then the author claims that the “Sun will rise in the West and set in the East” (which would indicate a change in direction of the earth’s rotation) and then contradicts himself in the next sentence, saying it would be a magnetic switch only.
It turns out that the claim of ‘unique alignments’ is easy to dispense with. Compare this image taken from one of the crank websites (a different one than I quote above) with this image, generated by the NASA/JPL Solar System Simulator. Notice anything? Yeah, that’s right… the claimed alignments don’t exist. The crank website graphic is just plain wrong.
As ‘Kay’ remarked below, I made a mistake on the JPL site, and accidentally set the date for June 21st ( I was probably looking at other alignment claims for the Summer Solstice). So, I’ve uploaded a new set of images from the NASA/JPL Solar System Simulator. Here we have images with fields of view at 1 degree, 2 degrees, 5 degrees, 10 degrees, 20 degrees, 30 degrees, 45 degrees and 60 degrees. As you can see, the original image from the site-which-shall-remain-unlinked is somewhat closer to reality when compared to these images. However it is still not very close.
First, look at the 1 degree view. Mercury and Venus are not in conjunction. Rolling the date backwards, the conjunction appears to occur on December 18.
Now, look at the 2 degree view. Note the angle between the Sun and the Earth?
Now check the 5 degree view and see where Jupiter is, looks like 10 or 15 degrees off. Indeed, the opposition occurs on November 28th, not December 21st.
Now, zoom out to the 20 degree view, and we see Saturn. Again, while it is close to the line of Mercury and Venus, it is still off by quite a bit.
Recently someone familiar with astrology told me that astrologers consider anything within 30 degrees an alignment. Maybe this is the basis for the claim? Then how come I keep hearing that there will be an exact alignment?
*Alignment with the center of the Galaxy:* According to some proponents, the solstice sun will align with the exact center of the galaxy in 2012. This can’t happen because the center of the Galaxy is not in the plane of the Earth’s orbit. It’s off by about 6 degrees. The line of the Earth and Sun come close to alignment with the center twice a year, on the solstices. Of course, we remember the plague of locusts, major famine, death and destruction raining from the skies every December and June 21st, dont’ we? Oh? We don’t? No ill effects noted so far, no swarm of earthquakes, no plagues of locusts? Funny, that.
http://astrogeek.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/aligncover-540x307.jpg?w=258&h=146This is an image taken from one of the 2012 proponent sites. It purports to show the positions of the solstice sun 3000 years ago, 1500 years ago, and in 2012. If this was all you had to look at, you might be tempted to agree with the conclusion at the site, that there will be a spectacular and rare alignment on December 21, 2012. However, a frequent poster in the Yahoo!Answers ‘Astronomy & Space’ forum, Geoff Gaherty, has a good article that was published in the Starry Night Times newsletter where he debunks this particular claim using Starry Night software, including much higher resolution images than the proponent site uses. I encourage you to look at his article and see for yourself that the so-called ‘alignment’ is pure bunk. Again, we are dealing with the claim that the solstice sun aligns exactly with the center of the galaxy. //It does not. //
*Alignment of the solstice sun and galactic equator:* This happens every 26,000 years (the period of the precession of the equinoxes). This is the time when the center of the solstice sun crosses the galactic equator. This actually happened… in 1998! It didn’t cause any problems then, despite what some were saying. So, we’ve got another 25,990 years to go! Another point I’ve seen made elsewhere is that the galactic equator is arbitrary. It is an approximation of the center of mass of the galactic disk. Its an entirely human construction, and has no real meaning other than to give us a frame of reference.
*Passing of the Solar System through the galactic central plane:* As the solar system orbits the galactic core, it wobbles or ‘bobs’ up and down through the disk of the galaxy, in kind of a sine-wave shaped path. This occurs because the mass of the galaxy is spread out into a disk, and when a system is above it, it is accelerated down toward the center of gravity of the disk, passes through it to the other side, and then is decelerated and brought back. Lather, rinse, repeat every 33 million years while you carry on merrily around the milky way every 220 million years. Here’s the problem with this idea: The last time we passed through the center of the disk was about 3 million years ago. We are currently moving away from the disk, and not toward it! We won’t be back through the disk for another 30 million years! I don’t think Microsoft Outlook goes out that far.
There is a hypothesis that when the solar system gets nearer to the ‘top’ of the galactic disk that we could be exposed to greater doses of cosmic rays, but the supporting data seems a bit scant.
One author has made a claim that the galactic plane is the location of the ‘dark rift’ (see below).
*Alignment of the Solar System with the Dark Rift:* This is one of those claims where the meaning changes depending on who you ask. To some people the ‘dark rift’ is the dark central band of the milky way (See ‘Alignment with the center of the Galaxy‘ above). This is caused by intervening dust which is blocking our view of the milky way central region. But, here’s an important point… our view is only blocked in visible light wavelengths. If we look at the central part of the milky way in Infrared or X-Rays we see quite a bit! According to the proponents of this particular version of the alignment, either the sun will block the ‘energy streaming from the center of the milky way’, or the alignment will cause earth to be bathed in ‘negative dark energy’. I really wish the proponents would get their stories straight.
The second meaning of ‘dark rift’ seems to be a mashup between the above definition and the ‘galactic equator’. One author has proposed that the ‘dark rift’ is a region along the galactic equator where there is a high concentration of dark objects; asteroids, dead planets, dark stars, etc. No evidence of this region has been provided, and in any rate (as noted above) we are currently moving away from this proposed region.
*Planet X / Nibiru / Wormwood*: __This object does not exist. Let me say that again, louder: __THIS OBJECT DOES NOT EXIST!
There are so many different and contradictory claims about it’s nature and position that it’s very difficult to sort them out. Both Planet X and Nibiru are ripped-off from other doomsday predictions. However, if there was an object of the smallest claimed size (four times the diameter of Venus) on an orbit that would intercept the Earth in 4 years, it would be visible today to anybody with a pair of binoculars. I have access to a really big (as amateurs go) telescope. Do you have the Right Ascension and Declination coordinates? I can go look. What’s that? It’s only visible from the Southern Hemisphere? No problem! There are telescope rental companies with remote-controlled telescopes worldwide. I can have a telescope in Australia pointing at it within 72 hours.
One argument that I have seen several times is that the object is “over the south pole” and cannot be seen (yet). Here’s the problem with that claim: Melbourne, Austrailia sits at about 37 degrees South. The location of the South Africa Large Telescope sits at about 34 degrees South. There are observatories in Argentina and Chile as far south as 35 degrees. There is no point in the southern sky that is not covered by one or more telescopes! In order to ‘hide’ from these telescopes, this object would have to travel in an impossible spiral shaped path to stay close to the sun! Even that would not help, because we have telescopes that watch the sun ( SOHO and STEREO ) and which have detected near sun objects such as comets!
Another argument I’ve seen several times is that NASA, the U.S. Government (in fact all world governments), the NWO and for all I know the ENC are suppressing information on a patch of sky near Orion. They’ve called this (cue ominous music) “The Orion Anomaly” <dum dum dummmmmm>. See, if you go to any of the big name online sky sites like Google Sky, or Microsoft World-Wide Telescope, there is a sinister black square in Orion! (click for an image on Universe Today) Obviously “they” are keeping it secret! Unfortunately for these conspiracy theorists, there’s a simple explanation.
All of the sites use the same source for their optical data: The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). This is an automated all sky optical survey, and the data are pretty good. However, in any automated survey sometimes garbage creeps in. When I first fired up the Microsoft World-Wide Telescope, I found several of these. This is an image artifact. It appears to be a shot of the underside of the instrument package on a telescope, taken during daylight. In other words, its a glitch in the data. The “anomaly” is just another glitch. Also, this area of the sky is prominently viewable from both the Southern and Northern hemispheres. I can see it in the early evening from my location with no difficulty. There is no object there.
The people who who say this object does exist need to provide pictures and/or tracking data, and please, not another doctored picture of Io. So far most of the claimed evidence are pictures showing lens flares (which they call ‘moon swirls’ and ’swirl tubes’ for … well, I really have no idea why).
Here’s another point: These are different objects! Each one was proposed by a different author during a different time frame, and was due to arrive at different times! Each one was also ripped off by the 2012 movement, and lumped together under the common banner. It is only there that they are conflated, their myths being merged into one single meta-myth.
One last point, before I get into the specifics of each mythical object: If you look at this post, you will see that scientists are looking to confirm or refute the ‘Nemesis’ hypothesis. The paper submitted for publication is here. The upshot of the paper is that the orbits of the inner planets precess in well-known ways, and that large-mass objects out beyond Pluto would perturb the motions of the inner planets in known ways. Since we do not see those effects, this sets minimum distances to those objects. In other words, the large mass objects would have to be at least** as far away as is listed in the paper in order to not cause the predicted motion. In another paper by David Jewitt, at the Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii, he outlines the detection ability of Project Pan-STARRS (short for Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System). According to the capabilities of this survey, these proposed large-mass objects would have been detected long before now. Even a small object like Pluto could be detected out to 320 AU, which is far beyond the minimum of 62 AU for a **Mars sized object. Even a ‘dark Pluto’ would be detectable out to 170 AU.
These constraints make it very, very unlikely that any large (Earth-mass or bigger) object exists beyond Pluto. There may be some more Pluto-sized objects out there, and I expect that eventually we will find several more in this size range. But at this point, there is no evidence for any Trans-Neptunian object as big or bigger than Mars, and some good evidence against it.
__*Nibiru:* __The planet called ‘Nibiru’ was proposed by a self-taught scholar of Sumerian cuneiform named Zecharia Sitchin. Sitchin used an image from a particular Sumerian seal, along with his own translation of Sumerian cuneiform, to argue that the Sumerians knew of 12 planets in the solar system, that the 12th planet is Nibiru, that it orbits the sun once every 3,600 years, and that beings (that the Sumerians called ‘gods’) live on it, and arrived on Earth some 450,000 years ago, and created humans by genetic engineering of female apes, and that basically we’re their slaves, digging up their gold for them.
No, really. That’s what he says. His claims are discussed in detail and debunked at http://www.sitchiniswrong.com
In particular this quote from that site jumps out at me:
In the texts that follow, Nibiru was regarded as a planet (specifically, Jupiter, but once as Mercury), a god (specifically, Marduk), and a star (distinguished from Jupiter).
If you’re confused, you aren’t alone. This tri-fold (fourfold if you count Mercury) designation for Nibiru is why scholars of cuneiform astronomy have not been able to determine with certainty what exactly Nibiru is. We’ll go into the problem more in later sections. *One thing is certain from the texts, though: Nibiru is NEVER identified as a planet beyond Pluto *- Michael Heiser: The Myth of a Sumerian 12th Planet – Retrieved 4/2/2009
Rob Hafernik, an aerospace engineer who worked on the NASA Shuttle program has a page which debunks Sitchin’s 12th planet claims, and Jason Colavito, who holds degrees in both anthropology and journalism, has a page up that discusses Sitchin more than his claims, but is an excellent read nonetheless.
Another set of pages debunking Sitchin’s claims is a series by Ian Lawton titled “The Mesopotamia Papers“.
Here’s the kicker; Sitchin’s prediction of the appearance of Nibiru does not coincide with the 2012 date! According to Sitchin, Nibiru is not due to return until 2085! So Sitchin doesn’t agree with the 2012ers! ( Or at least he didn’t until he started making money off of it, he seems to be a bit quiet about this fact as of late ).
*Planet X:* Planet X is/was the brainchild of Nancy Leider, who claims to be channeling benign aliens from Zeta Reticuli. Apparently these kindly aliens abducted her, put a telepathic transceiver in her head, and have been communicating with her. Their goal was to warn us about the impending approach of Planet X, and help guide us through the troubled times it would bring. These aliens have an abysmally poor grasp of astronomy, as evidenced by this flashback from the google archives where she claimed that Comet Hale-Bopp was not really a comet, and the proceeded to make several wildly wrong predictions about it. Also in the cast of characters was Mark Hazelwood. Hazelwood was instrumental in pushing Planet X in 2002, in what appears primarily to have been a money-making scheme. He… um… borrowed claims from the ZetaTalk website (which he now claims misled him and is also acting as an agent for government disinformation).
Planet X was supposed to arrive in 2003. However, it has now apparently been ‘rescheduled’ for 2012. Maybe it got hijacked by a set of rogue aliens? The point-by-point rebuttal to their arguments that Astronomer Phil Plait made in 2003 are still valid.
The Planet X and the Pole Shift site does a good job of analyzing all of the claims of the Planet X-ers, and debunking them one by one.
*Wormwood:* Some biblical literalists have equated Planet X / Nibiru with “Wormwood”. If you are not up on your apocalyptic biblical literature:
“When the third angel blew his trumpet, a huge star blazing like a torch fell from heaven. It fell on one-third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. One-third of the water turned into wormwood, and many people died from the water because it had turned bitter.” – Revelation 8:10-11, ISV
Usually this passage has been interpreted as referring to a comet or meteor strike. Of course it was co-opted by the doomsayers to claim that the Bible predicted 2012. So, if you are approaching this from a Christian perspective, I have one more passage for you:
“But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” – Mark 13:32-33
So, if you accept that Revelation 8:10-11 refers to ‘Wormwood’ (which is part of the ‘End Times’) then you also have to accept that nobody knows “that day or hour”.
In addition, my previous objections still stand: there is no object like Planet X / Nibiru / Wormwood that is going to be near Earth in 2012. We know where all of the big dangerous Earth-crossing objects are or will be for the next 10 years or so. If there were a large rogue or long period object that was going to approach us in 2012, we would be able to see it by now, and we would be able to see its effects on the outer planets by now.
A few people have tried to make the claim that since a couple small objects just barely missed us recently, that we don’t know where all the dangerous objects are. Well, that is true, up to a point.
The objects that recently whizzed by the Earth at a distance closer than the moon’s orbit were relatively small. These small objects are devilishly hard to spot. In the case of the meteor that exploded over the Sudan, we only saw it 19 hours before it entered the atmosphere. If that’s scary to you, consider this: Just a few years ago we wouldn’t have even known about it at all, because our ability to spot and track them just wasn’t there. Ignorance is bliss. The fact that we can now find these objects, predict where they will land, and send out an alert in enough time for an airline pilot to look and see the flash, then later go and pick up pieces of the object, is *really* cool. //Yay science! //
Another claim was that “We weren’t told until it had passed”, which is bunk. Anyone who cares to can sign up for the alerts for these objects through the minor planets center at Harvard.
However, there are specific claims made about Nibiru / Planet X / Wormwood, including size, composition and orbit. None of the claims about these objects hold up to even a cursory examination, especially when talking about a 2012 encounter.
Of course, not satisfied to hit us with a triple-threat of mythical planets, the 2012 proponents also throw in a handful of catastrophic events, just in case Nibiru misses us. Here’s a sample of some of them (and this is by no means a complete list):
*Pole shifts:* Which set of poles, magnetic or axis? The cranks frequently confuse the two. I’ll discuss both below.
*Magnetic Pole Shift/Pole Reversal*: While it is true that the Earth’s magnetic field strength is currently declining, magnetic Pole reversals occur over the course of several hundred years, possibly up to a few thousand years.__ They don’t switch overnight.__ The current magnetic field is stronger now than it has been for most of the Earth’s history, and the field fluctuates quite a bit over geologic time, without going through pole reversals, so the current decline of the magnetic field may have nothing to do with a pole reversal. There is no evidence from any magnetic surveys that we are going to have a pole reversal anytime soon (meaning in the next few years). We may be at the beginning of one now, but we may not. Either way, there is no reason to link it with 2012.
At his Geodynamo page, USCS Professor Gary Glatzmaier discusses the cause and current state of the earth’s magnetic field. Prof. Glatzmaier does not do any ‘debunking’ on his page, but I link to his page because he gives a good overview of the science behind the magnetic field and the ‘magnetic polar shifts’. Another overview page is here, and a transcript of the PBS NOVA program “Magnetic Storm” can be viewed here.
A magnetic pole reversal is a big change, and it takes a long time to unfold and develop. No, the field strength of Earth will not drop to zero. Instead it will start with the magnetic poles splitting, so that we may have two or three North and South poles, instead of the simple dipole we have now. These will wander about for quite a while (possibly thousands of years) before settling down into a new dipole, with the poles reversed. When will this happen? The data indicates that it will take hundreds or perhaps thousands of years to unfold. There is no way to tell if the current decline is the beginning of a pole shift, or if we will have to wait another 10,000 years for it to start.
The doomsayers make much of the fact that the most recent field reversal happened over 700,000 years ago, and that we’re ‘overdue’. Sorry folks, the dynamo effect that drives the magnetic field is not a clock. It doesn’t keep perfect time. The longest period between pole reversals was over 30 million years!
Computer models show us what the entire reversal might look like. Again, keep in mind that these occur in geologic time, not in a few years.
http://astrogeek.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/nmp__migration.gif?w=300&h=283 Also, the magnetic poles wander now. Various expeditions have reached the NMP (North Magnetic Pole): In 1831 it was found at Cape Adelaide on the Boothia Peninsula. It was in a slightly different location in 1903. It was later found at Allen Lake on Prince of Wales Island. The Canadian government has made several measurements since, which show that the NMP is continually moving northwest. In 1996 an expedition certified its location by magnetometer and theodolite at +78.595, -104. Its estimated 2005 position was +82.7, -114.4, to the west of Ellesmere Island, the biggest of the Queen Elizabeth Islands, in Canada. // During the 20th century it has moved 1,100 km//, and since 1970 its rate of motion has accelerated from 9 km/year to 41 km/year. If it maintained its present speed and direction it would reach Siberia in about 50 years, but it is expected to veer from its present course and slow down.
This movement is on top of a daily movement in which the NMP describes a rough ellipse, with a maximum deviation of 80 km from its mean position. This effect is due to disturbances of the geomagnetic field by charged particles from the Sun.
So, all of this movement in the NMP happens now. What ill effects have you noticed? The only thing I’ve noticed is that I have to update the declination setting on my compass from time to time (about once a decade).
*Rotational Pole Shift:* A “rotational” or “geographic” pole shift (i.e., a change in the axis of the Earth) would take a huge amount of force on the Earth. We’re talking about a massive collision with another large body that has a different axis of rotation so that the combined angular momentum is different. This would be a planet killer, and would probably require an object the size of Mars or better. But, where is it? Where is this force going to come from? The non-existent Planet X / Nibiru? Again, where is it? In order for it to cause us a problem in under four years it should be visible to the naked eye by now! If such an object were to hit us, no ‘Nibiru Proof Shelter’ is going to protect you. The Earth’s surface would be completely melted for thousands, perhaps tens or hundreds of thousands of years.
Ah Ha! (the proponents exclaim), what if it doesn’t actually hit us, but misses us by just enough to tip the poles over? The problem with this idea is that the axis doesn’t stick out of the top of the planet waiting for a passing object to smack it over. There has to be a transfer of energy in order to shift the axis of rotation, and make no mistake, we’re talking about a// lot// of energy, and the claim for the ‘geographic pole shift’ is a significant tipping, 10, 15, maybe 20 degrees. Even if a large object were to pass close to us, it would not cause the Earth’s axis of rotation to change by the amount claimed.
Just as there is a kernel of truth in some of the other claims, there is a tiny bit of science buried under the rotational axis change claim. The earth’s axis does slowly change over time.
From Wikipedia’s page on Milankovich Cycles:
The eccentricity, axial tilt, and precession of the Earth’s orbit vary in several patterns, resulting in 100,000-year ice age cycles of the Quaternary glaciation over the last few million years. The Earth’s axis completes one full cycle of precession approximately every 26,000 years. At the same time, the elliptical orbit rotates, more slowly, leading to a 21,000-year cycle between the seasons and the orbit. In addition, the angle between Earth’s rotational axis and the normal to the plane of its orbit moves from 22.1 degrees to 24.5 degrees and back again on a 41,000-year cycle. Currently, this angle is 23.44 degrees and is decreasing. - Wikipedia: Milankovich Cycles – retrieved 2009/04/02
There it is. A whopping 2.4 degrees over 41,000 years, and not the 15 or 20 degrees overnight that some have claimed.
*Solar storms / Solar Flares:* Probably as a consequence of the movie “Knowing” being released recently, this particular part of the 2012 claim has jumped in frequency, with many now equating ‘massive solar flares’ with mass destruction on earth.
Here are the facts:
- There are solar flares all of the time.
- The number of flares (and sunspots) varies over time in an approximate eleven-year cycle.
- The Sun is due to reach a maximum (called ’solar max’) in its 11 year cycle in 2011 or 2012.
There is an article published on the New Scientist website, based on a report by NASA and the National Academy of Science in which a hypothetical massive solar storm causes a long-term disruption in the electrical power grid. While the report itself seems solid, the scenario portrayed in the article unfortunately uses the year 2012, adding fuel to the 2012 fire.
The strongest solar storm on record is called the “Carrington Event” (after Richard Carrington who viewed and reported on the solar flare of September 1st). It occurred in late August and early September of 1859. From August 28th through September 4th, aurorae of unusual brilliance were observed throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, and were seen as far south as Hawaii, the Caribbean, and Central America in the Northern Hemisphere and in the Southern Hemisphere as far north as Santiago, Chile. Should such an event occur today, there would be massive disruption in electrical grids, possibly long term. What is needed is to beef up our early warning system, and to stockpile spares of critical components. However, the report paints a worst-case scenario where no warning is given, and the eletrical grid operators do not have time to take precautions.
In 2006, the National Center for Atmospheric Research issued a press release indicating that the next solar cycle would be stronger than normal, as much as 30 to 50% stronger than the 2001 solar max. So far, we have a lousy record of predicting the intensity of solar maximum, but we’ll have to wait and see if the NCAR prediction is accurate. However, here’s the thing the doomsayers leave out. The author of the paper said that this cycle may be stronger than usual, and perhaps as strong as the 1956 solar max. Did we all die in 1956, or 1859 for that matter?
Specifically, there is no prediction of a massive life-killing solar flare in 2012. Even more specifically, there is no evidence that our sun can produce a ‘Knowing’ type solar flare anytime soon. We know what stars like our sun are capable of by looking at other sun-like stars. If these stars were churning out massive CMEs like the movie ‘Knowing’ depicted, then we would see that in other stars… and we don’t.
*26,000 year precession of Earth’s axis*: This claim hinges on the idea that there will be a ‘wobble’ in the Earth’s axis of rotation in 2012. However, the axis of the Earth doesn’t ‘wobble’ suddenly, but rather carries on a smooth, stately movement, completing an entire circle in 26,000 years. The precession is what causes the constellations to ever so slowly drift from their historical positions. That’s why the dawn rising of Sirius no longer signals the ‘Dog Days of Summer’, and one of the reasons why Astrology is bunk.
*Predictions by Other Cultures:* The doomsday cranks like to tell us that lots of other cultures predicted the end of the world for this date. The list varies, although most of them include the Maya. However, none of these claims stand up to even a cursory examination. For example, I have recently seen it claimed that the Chinese calendar also ends in 2012. When I asked a Chinese friend about that, he just laughed and said “No”. The traditional Chinese calendar is now only used for Cultural/historic purposes, whereas the ‘Western’ (Gregorian) calendar is used for most political, agricultural and personal uses in China.
*The Bible:* Various people have pulled various bits of text out of context and misconstrued them to indicate that the world will end in 2012. For example, Michael Drosnin, the author of “The Bible Code,” claims to have found a hidden message in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) that predicts that a comet will crash into the earth in 2012 and annihilate all life. Of course, predictions like this ignore all of the previous (incorrect) predictions of the same fate. See “A Brief History of the Apocalypse” and this site for a scientific refutation of the idea of “Bible Codes”.
*Sir Isaac Newton:* Isaac Newton did in fact ‘predict’ that there would be an apocalypse… in 2060, not 2012. The context of his ‘prediction’ is interesting in that he was adamantly against ‘date setting’ with regard to biblical prophesy. See http://www.isaac-newton.org/update.html for more information.
*Nostradamus:* Nostradamus says so many things and says them so vaguely ( deliberately, since he was afraid of being put on trial for heresy ) that you can either conclude that he makes no sense whatsoever, or that you can claim justification for any event immediately after it happens. To me, this makes Nostradamus completely useless. Nostradamus famously predicted prosperity for Henery II, King of France just two years before his death in a jousting accident. There is also a problem in that most people fail to identify the quatrain in which he made this prediction, and I’ve seen various *different* quatrains brought forward, usually misquoted.
Here’s one of the ‘predictions’:
The great star for seven days will burn, The cloud will make two suns appear: The great mastiff will be all night howling, When the great pontiff changes his land. (Century 2, Quatrain 41)
Well! That certainly clears things up! The point is that Nostradamus’ quatrains are so vaguely worded that you can point to just about *any* of them, and with the right spin, claim that Nostradamus predicted it! For example, the quatrain above could be easily construed as a supernova. Look! Nostradamus predicted SN1987A, the 1988 election of George Bush (The Great pontiff being Reagan), and the defeat of Michael Dukakis (the great mastiff). See how easy it is?
*I Ching:* Ok, so you’re saying an ancient Chinese system of fortune-telling is saying that the world ends in 2012? As John Stossel says “Give me a break!” The text of I Ching doesn’t predict anything… it describes a system of making predictions by casting signs. So the best you can say is that someone using I Ching predicted something about 2012, which negates the claim that 2012 was predicted in I Ching.
And that’s exactly what happened. The so called ‘I Ching prediction’ was created by Terrence McKenna, who was a self-described ‘Psychonaut‘. What’s that? Well, a psychonaut apparently takes mind altering drugs, including LSD, and then writes down the crap that they think up while on their trip. While on one (or several) of his drug-induced mind-benders, McKenna thought up his ‘Novelty Theory’ and the related ‘Timewave’. These (according to McKenna) sought to show that the events of any given time are recursively related to the events of other times. His ‘theories’ purported to use mathematics, although he never published them in a peer-reviewed journal, and most mathematicians who looked at his calculations proclaimed them to be ‘numerology’.
McKenna’s ‘theory’ said that as the complexity and sophistication of human thought and culture increases, a factor he called ‘universal novelty’ approaches a curve of infinite exponential growth. He called this the ‘omega point’. In the time immediately prior to, and during the ‘omega point of infinite novelty’, anything and everything conceivable to the human imagination will occur simultaneously. McKenna fixed the date of this historical endpoint as December 21, 2012, the end of the long count of the Mayan calendar.
However, originally McKenna had chosen the end of the calendar by looking for a very novel event in recent history, and using this as the beginning of his final 67.29 year cycle. The event he chose was the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, which gave an end-date in mid-November of 2012, but when he discovered the proximity of this date to the end of the current 13-baktun cycle of the Maya calendar, he adjusted the end date to match!*__//
*Mother Shipton:* According to the “Museum of Hoaxes”, Mother Shipton (Ursula Sonthiel Shipton), was born in 1488 in Yorkshire, England, and lived until 1561. According to legend, her birth was the result of a union between her mother and the devil. When she was born, she was reportedly hideously ugly.
According to the 2012 proponents, she is alleged to have said:
A fiery dragon will cross the sky six times before the earth shall die. Mankind will tremble and frightened be for the six heralds in this prophecy.
For seven days and seven nights man will watch this awesome sight. The tides will rise beyond their ken. To bite away the shores and then the mountains will begin to roar and earthquakes split the plain to shore.
And flooding waters rushing in, will flood the lands with such a din that mankind cowers in muddy fen and snarls about his fellow men.
However, Mother Shipton’s prophecies are hoaxes, because it now appears that almost all of them were written by others after the events they described had already happened. Her prophecies about future technology, and about the world coming to an end in 1881, first appeared in print in the 1862 edition of her sayings, and Charles Hindley, the editor of that edition, later admitted that he had composed them.
The existence of Mother Shipton herself is uncertain. Her 1684 biographer, Richard Head, apparently invented most of the details of her life. In fact, she may never have existed outside of Yorkshire legend.
*Hopi Indians:* I recently ran across the claim that 2012 was predicted by “various native American cultures, like the Hopi”. Perhaps I’m a bit overly suspicious at this point, but I don’t take just anybody’s word that someone made a “2012 prediction”. When pressed for an example, I was given this passage:
“When the Blue Star Katchina (spirit guide) makes it’s appearance in the heavens, the Fifth World will emerge. This will be a day of Purification.”
Obviously that’s about 2012 right? I mean it says “2012″ right there… um… ok, maybe not. That one wasn’t so good. Let’s try this one:
“When the Saquasohuh ( Blue Star ) Katchina removes his mask there will be no more ceremonies for a time. Only the homelands will be preserved as an oasis for the Hopi.”
Hm… no luck there either. Seems like the claim that the Hopi predicted 2012 is just as bogus as the rest.
*Plague/Virus*: Once again the 2012 hoaxers have ripped off a plot line from Hollywood. This time it is the plot of “I Am Legend”, or any one of a number of ‘virus wipes out the population’ scenarios from movies or video-games. The recent outbreak of the “novel influenza A(H1N1)” (a.k.a. “swine flu”) has caused this scenario to quickly rise to the top in the 2012 hoaxer’s gestalt. Of course there is no way to say that there will not be a global pandemic in 2012. On the other hand there is no way to say that there will be one either. Every year there are epidemics that crop up and are localized and treated before they become pandemic. There is no way to link these events with 2012.
All of these so called predictions have been contrived and manipulated to agree with this date, and are all false.
Let me say that again: __They are all, every single one, false.__
What’s REALLY going to happen?
2012 is a leap year.
The London Olympics will be in 2012
March 3 – Mars at Opposition. March 20 – The Vernal Equinox. April 15 – Saturn at Opposition. April 21, 22 – Lyrids Meteor Shower. May 5, 6 – Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower. May 20 – Annular Solar Eclipse. June 4 – Partial Lunar Eclipse. June 6 – Transit of Venus Across the Sun. June 20 – The Summer Solstice. July 28, 29 – Southern Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower. August 12, 13 – Perseids Meteor Shower. August 24 – Neptune at Opposition. September 22 – The Autumnal Equinox . September 29 – Uranus at Opposition. October 21, 22 – Orionids Meteor Shower. November 13 – Total Solar Eclipse. November 17, 18 – Leonids Meteor Shower. November 28 – Penumbral Lunar Eclipse. December 3 – Jupiter at Opposition. December 13, 14 – Geminids Meteor Shower. December 21 – The Winter Solstice. December 22 – I sit back and have a hearty laugh at all of the ‘prophets of the 2012 doomsday’.
Everything else will be pretty much the same.
There is no large object on its way to pass close to the Earth in 2012. There is no “dark rift”. There will be no “planetary alignment” or “galactic alignment”. The magnetic poles will not suddenly switch. The axis of the earth will not suddenly change. The orbit of the earth will not suddenly change. There will be no ‘killer solar flare’ a’la the movie “Knowing”. None of the predicted disasters has a shred of evidence. It’s all a gigantic money-making hoax.
A post by a friend of mine on Yahoo! Answers caught my eye, and I think that his little poem is as good a way to conclude this page as any:
We hear each day “two oh one two” The kids all ask if it is true. “Nibiru, the planet we must fear, Or planet X shall soon be here. The Mayan count runs to an end. I was told this by a friend.”
Nibiru the hoax world of Sitchin Fit only for the garbage bin. Devoid of fact, reason or wit, Science laughs at all the talk of it.
Of planet “X” Nan Lieder cries, And yet she won’t look at the skies, To come in four short years it’s true, The damn thing must be now in view!
“Where is it?” Science asks with glee, “You said, ‘Beware two thousand three!’ With Earth it didn’t make a tryst, We’re very sure it don’t exist!”
Galactic lines are the next fright, And yet the angles are not right. “Six degrees off!” the scientists say, “It happens near each solstice day.” But it would no difference make, You can be sure the thing’s a fake.
“Planets align!” or so some say “It will be on that very day.” Yet naught of fact now can they quote, I’d like to take them by the throat And try to squeeze some truth right in, But murder now they say’s a sin.
Failed prophets, fools, those full of fraud, Are people with whom we all are bored.
- ‘Ken E’ on Yahoo! Answers, used with permission.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, please leave a comment and let me know, or better yet, use the button at the top to ‘Digg’ it. If you want to challenge me on something I say here, please leave me a comment and let me know. If you would simply like to accuse me of being a government shill and part of the conspiracy to conceal Nibiru from the masses until it’s too late, please leave a comment and let me know.
[ Topics] Credits: I used material for a lot of these arguments from other debunkers, including Ken E on Yahoo! Answers, Bikenbeer2000 on Yahoo Answers, Phil Plait from BadAstronomy.com, and Ben Tremblay from dailycommonsense.com. The calendar of 2012 events is summarized from seasky.org.
Update 3: More smackage at the pseudoastro blog
- Planet X: The real and historical story of Planet X
- Planet X & 2012: Primer on the Mayan Calendar
- Planet X & 2012: Pseudoastronomy or just plain wrong astronomy about a “galactic alignment”
- Planet X & 2012: The pole shift explained and debunnked
- Planet X & 2012: Proof Earth is not experiencing a pole shift
- Planet X & 2012: Quotes from archaeology experts about the Mayan prophecy
- Planet X & 2012: The pole shift geographic spin axis explained and debunked
- Planet X & 2012: Why Planet X is not coming in 2012
- Planet X & 2012: What the sky looks like on December 21, 2012
- Planet X & 2012: Why a 3600 year Planet X/Nibiru doesn’t exist
- Planet X & 2012: Could Planet X be a planet around a binary star to our own, a dark star?
Update 4: Added a more complete calendar of celestial events for 2012. For the original including moon phases and complete descriptions see http://www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy__calendar__2012.html
Update 5: Added links to a debunking of Zecharia Sitchin’s scholarship
Update 6: Added ‘dark rift’ information.
Update 7: Reworked header and opening paragraphs.
Update 8: Added new mayan calendar information.
Update 9: Minor fixes to spelling, punctuation, etc.
Update 10: Another smackdown at Exit Mundi
Update 11: Fixed some typos, added some links to relavent sites
Update 12; 2009.04.18: Added a link to Ian Lawton’s “The Mesopotamia Papers“.
Update 13; 2009.04.20: Another debunking at RootZoo.
Update 14; 2009.04.20: Added a bit of ‘Why’ to the introduction … as in “Why am I doing this?”
Update 15; 2009.04.20: Added some information on the constraints limiting the existence of a large-mass object beyond Neptune.
Update 16; 2009.04.20: Yet another debunking of the Doomsday Comet idea at the Discovery Space blog.
Update 18; 2009.04.28; Added section on the Hopi.
Update 19; 2009.04.29; Added bit.ly short link. Put this in your bookmarks: http://bit.ly/2012hoax
Update 20; 2009.05.04; Added the ‘Conclusion’ section along with a bit of poetry (Thanks Ken!)
Update 21; 2009.05.04; Added ‘Swine Flu’ section and a link to David Morrison’s article in the Skeptical Inquirer”.