The Road to Nibiru
After a fireball was observed streaking across the Southwestern sky "local radio broadcasts immediately began receiving calls, many from people who were driving to work, with some asking whether the fireball in the sky could be a sign that the fabled Mayan Prophecy has begun." In order to prevent an outbreak of panic among those susceptible to it NASA is turning to social media platforms to let people know that the Apocalypse has not been definitely scheduled for December 21.
Not everyone is so sure we're safe. According to the Daily Telegraph, some people in Russia stocked up on survival supplies after "a newspaper article, supposedly written by a Tibetan monk, confirmed the end of the world."
Some in China are taking the prospect of Armageddon seriously with panic buying of candles reported in Sichuan province.
The source of the panic was traced to a post on Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter, predicting that there will be three days of darkness when the apocalypse arrives.
One grocery store owner said: "At first, we had no idea why. But then we heard someone muttering about the continuous darkness."
If one particular analysis of historical records is accurate then according to the MIT Technology Review the real Nibiru missed the earth back in 1883 when a billion-ton comet scraped past the planet almost unobserved. "Hector Manterola at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City ... estimate that these objects must have ranged in size from 50 to 800 metres across and that the parent comet must originally have tipped the scales at a billion tons or more, that’s huge, approaching the size of Halley’s comet."
Manterola and co end their paper by spelling out just how close Earth may have come to catastrophe that day. They point out that Bonilla observed these objects for about three and a half hours over two days. This implies an average of 131 objects per hour and a total of 3275 objects in the time between observations.
Each fragment was at least as big as the one thought to have hit Tunguska. Manterola and co end with this: “So if they had collided with Earth we would have had 3275 Tunguska events in two days, probably an extinction event.”
Wikipedia points out that the End of the World has come several times before. "Since life began on Earth, several major mass extinctions have significantly exceeded the background extinction rate. The most recent, the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, which occurred approximately 65.5 million years ago. ... In a landmark paper published in 1982, Jack Sepkoski and David M. Raup identified five mass extinctions".
That doesn't even count the minor extinctions. Thus, from one point of view, the Apocalypse is not only coming, it's been around the block a few times already. There is even some debate over whether such extinctions are periodic or follow some kind of distribution. Some scientists even think they can predict them. National Geographic reports "a new study [which] suggests that global warming could threaten one-fourth of the world's plant and vertebrate animal species with extinction by 2050."
You shouldn't be out buying candles. You should be buying carbon credits.
But there's hope for the species. SBS says "a 'super Earth' that could have a life-supporting climate has been discovered in a multi-world solar system 42 light years from the Sun." That's close enough for a multigenerational starship to reach.
The planet, which is several times more massive than the Earth, lies just the right distance from its star to allow the existence of liquid surface water.
It orbits well within the star's "habitable" or "Goldilocks" zone - the region where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold to sustain life.
The new world is one of six, all with masses a few times that of the Earth, believed to circle the dwarf star HD 40307 in the constellation Pictor.
In case you think such ideas are wholly out of this world, think again. A company called the Golden Spike "a new company run by former NASA executives announced that it will send you to the moon by 2020 -- for a mere $1.5 billion." President Obama is not impressed.
President Barack Obama cancelled NASA's planned return to the moon, saying America had already been there. On Wednesday, a National Academy of Sciences said the nation's space agency has no clear goal or direction for future human exploration. ...
The firm has talked to other countries, which are showing interest, said former NASA associate administrator Alan Stern, Golden Spike's president. Stern said he's looking at countries like South Africa, South Korea, and Japan. One very rich individual -- he won't give a name -- has also been talking with them, but the company's main market is foreign nations, he said.
Obama's not interested. But if it makes money he'll find a way to tax it.
Golden Spike's trip to the moon won't get you as far as Pictor, though perhaps you can hitchhike the rest of the way from there. Maybe this is how it was when our ancestors looked out across to the next valley. For there is a restlessness in man compounded both of ancient fear and ancient hope that keeps him moving, driven by the inner conviction that to stop is to die. Present in every loving glimpse of home lies the presentiment that we are doomed to leave it; that it must take its place in memory. In its original meaning the word 'Apocalypse' never meant the end of things. It meant the time when things would be revealed and the next valley came into view.
Let the sweet fresh breezes heal me
As they rove around the girth
Of our lovely mother planet
Of the cool, green hills of Earth.
We've tried each spinning space mote
And reckoned its true worth:
Take us back again to the homes of men
On the cool, green hills of Earth.
The arching sky is calling
Spacemen back to their trade.
ALL HANDS! STAND BY! FREE FALLING!
And the lights below us fade.
Out ride the sons of Terra,
Far drives the thundering jet,
Up leaps a race of Earthmen,
Out, far, and onward yet ---
We pray for one last landing
On the globe that gave us birth;
Let us rest our eyes on the fleecy skies
And the cool, green hills of Earth.