Feature: The End of the World?

Photo Credit: Reto Stöckli, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA assures us that the world will continue to exist after December 21st.

The highly anticipated 2012 “doomsday” is almost upon us.  In general, everyone seems highly skeptical of oceans flooding and asteroids crashing into earth just because the of the Mayan’s prediction. But for those who can’t get it out of the back of their minds, here are some of the answers provided by NASA that reinsure earth’s survival.

Q:  Are there any threats to Earth on December 21st, 2012?

A: “The world will not end in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.”

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 December 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 December 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on December 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then — just as your calendar begins again on January 1 – another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar.”

Q: Is there a danger from giant solar storms predicted for 2012?

A: “Solar activity has a regular cycle, with peaks approximately every 11 years. Near these activity peaks, solar flares can cause some interruption of satellite communications, although engineers are learning how to build electronics that are protected against most solar storms. But there is no special risk associated with 2012. The next solar maximum will occur in the 2012-2014 time frame and is predicted to be an average solar cycle, no different than previous cycles throughout history.”

For more “Q&A” from NASA, check out their site: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012.html