These fears are based on misinterpretations of the Mayan calendar. On day 21, the date of the winter solstice, one cycle of the Mayan calendar called 13 º b'ak'tun. Although Mayan scholars agree that the ancient Maya had not considered this date as apocalyptic rumors that a cosmic event can wipe out life on Earth on that day have spread like wildfire.
NASA maintains a page of information to discredit the rumors about the Mayan apocalypse, like a wandering planet that hit Earth on December 21, killing us all. In fact, astronomers are very effective in detecting near-Earth objects and a wandering planet that could hit Earth in the next three weeks would be the brightest object in the sky other than the sun and moon.
"There is no basis in this," said David Morrison, an astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center. "This is just an elaborate fantasy."
Unfortunately, according to Morrison, this fantasy has consequences in real life. Morrison himself received many emails and letters from concerned citizens, particularly young people. Some say they can not eat, or are too worried to sleep, said Morrison. Others say they are suicidal.
"Although this is like a joke to many people and a mystery to the rest, there is a core of people who are genuinely concerned," he added.
Not all those who believe what the apocalypse 2012 think the world will end on December 21. Some, inspired by New Age philosophies, expect a day of universal peace and spiritual transformation. But young people are impressionable who concern to NASA officials.
In fact, according Lika Guhathakurta, a solar physicist, it is true that the sun is currently in a very active phase of the cycle, ie, electromagnetic energy is growing. Large solar flares can affect electronic and navigation systems on Earth, but satellites that monitor the sun offer a lot of ads and allow officials to offset that additional electromagnetic activity when it reaches our atmosphere.
Nor is there near-Earth objects, planets or anything else that threatens to crash into Earth on December 21, said Don Yeomans, a scientist who tracks near-Earth objects at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA.
A popular rumor that says that the planet will suffer a total blackout on December 23 to 25 earned a "What?" and strange looks in the gallery of scientists.
Ultimately, the concern for the fate of the Earth should be more focused on issues such as climate change in any cosmic catastrophe, said Andrew Fraknoi, an astronomer at Foothill College in California.
"The greatest threat to the Earth in 2012, at the end of the year and in the future, comes only from the human species," concluded Adams.
Picture By NASA () [Public domain], via Wikimedia Common