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Dec. 21 ‘End of the World’ Fears

doomsday-picThe doomsday myth, which supposedly originated with the Mayan calendar, says the world will end on Dec. 21. Scientists say the concerns are completely unfounded.

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LOS ANGELES — With segments of the population worrying that today, Dec. 21, 2012, will mark the end of the world, NASA has pulled out all the stops to answer questions from those concerned the apocalypse is imminent.

The space agency has a Web page devoted to debunking the myth and has made scientists available for interviews.

They’ve also produced several videos posted online, including one confidently titled,“Why the World Didn’t End Yesterday.”

Though the title of the video implies a Dec. 22 release date, NASA spokesman Dwayne Brown said the four-minute clip was purposefully posted last week to help the agency spread its message: Dec. 21 will be a normal day.

“Dec., 22, 2001. If you’re watching this video, it means one thing: The world didn’t end yesterday,” the video begins.

The video goes on to cite information from Dr. John Carlson, director of the Center for Archaeoastronomy at the University of Maryland.

Carlson explains how the Mayan calendar became linked to the doomsday myth.

Many believe that because the calendar “ends” on Dec. 21, 2012, the world too will end on that day. But, Carlson says, the Mayan calendar will essentially roll over on this day.

In other words, the calendar won’t end, Carlson says, and neither will the world.

“None of the thousands of ruins, tables and standing stones that archeologists have examined foretell an end of the world,” the video says.

Don’t believe Carlson? You should, NASA said. The video cites his credentials, calling him a “hard-nosed scientist” who began studying the 2012 theory 35 years ago.

And if that isn’t convincing enough, the video goes on to cite scientists who dispel a few of the other end-of-the-world scenarios floating around, saying no asteroids, comets or rogue planets are on a “collision course” with Earth, and solar flares won’t be a problem.

Brown said NASA typically receives about 90 calls or emails per week containing questions from people.

In recent weeks, he said, that number has skyrocketed — 200 to 300 people are contacting NASA per day to ask about the end of the world.

“We’re doing all that we can do to let the world know that as far as NASA and science go, Dec. 21 will be another day,” Brown said.

-Los Angeles Times

GRIFFITH PARK, Calif. (KTLA) — The Griffith Park Observatory was getting ready on Thursday night to stay open late on Friday to prove that the world won’t end on Dec. 21 — as supposedly predicted by the Mayan calendar.

The observatory normally closes at 10 p.m., but it will remain open an extra 121 minutes — past midnight — to demonstrate that the end of the world claims have no basis in fact.

There will be extra shows offered at the observatory’s Samuel Oschin Planetarium at 9:45 p.m. and 10:45 p.m.

A large number of visitors are expected, so get there early. For safety reasons, Griffith Park access roads will close as soon as the parking lot is full, no later than 10 p.m.

For more information, visit www.griffithobservatory.org.

The Griffith Park Observatory will stay open late on Friday night for visitors who want to look into space on the night of the predicted end of the world. Elizabeth Espinosa reports.

If there’s one government agency really looking forward to Dec. 22, it’s NASA.

The space agency said it has been flooded with calls and emails from people asking about the purported end of the world — which, as the doomsday myth goes, is apparently set to take place Friday, Dec. 21.

The myth might have originated with the Maya calendar, but in the age of the Internet and social media, it proliferated online, raising questions and concerns among hundreds of people around the world who have turned to NASA for answers.

Dwayne Brown, an agency spokesman, said NASA typically receives about 90 calls or emails per week containing questions from people. In recent weeks, he said, that number has skyrocketed — from 200 to 300 people are contacting NASA per day to ask about the end of the world.

“Who’s the first agency you would call?” he said. “You’re going to call NASA.”

The questions range from myth (Will a rogue planet crash into Earth? Is the sun going to explode? Will there be three days of darkness?) to the macabre (Brown said some people have “embraced it so much” they want to hurt themselves). So, he said, NASA decided to do “everything in our power” to set the facts straight.

That effort included interviews with scientists posted online and a Web page that Brown said has drawn more than 4.6 million views.

It also involved a video titled “Why the World Didn’t End Yesterday.” Though the title of the video implies a Dec. 22 release date, Brown said NASA posted the four-minute clip last week to help spread its message.

The website addresses several scenarios — the possibility of planetary alignments, total blackouts, polar shifts and “a planet or brown dwarf called Nibiru or Planet X or Eris that is approaching the Earth and threatening our planet with widespread destruction” — but comes to the same conclusion.

In short, NASA says, “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,” the website says.

The Griffith Observatory will also be trying to debunk doomsday predictions. It announced plans to stay open late Friday evening — until one minute past midnight — to “demonstrate that claims regarding the Maya calendar, planetary alignments, rogue planets, galactic beams, and other related phenomena have no basis in fact.”

A few years ago, NASA suspected that it might have to create such a campaign when the idea of the world ending began “festering,” Brown said. The apocalyptic action movie “2012,” released in 2009, didn’t help, he said.

“We kind of look ahead — we’re a look-ahead agency — and we said, ‘You know what? People are going to probably want to come to us’ ” for answers, Brown explained. “We’re doing all that we can do to let the world know that as far as NASA and science goes, Dec. 21 will be another day.”

As for Saturday, when the questions — not the world — end: “I wish it was tomorrow.”

-Los Angeles Times

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