NASA’s David Morrison, expert on Earth impact hazards and currently the Senior Scientist at the NASA Lunar Science Institute, speaks on what are the risk to Earth in 2012. He addresses misconceptions related to the year 2012, Earth crossing objects, planetary alignment, and related myths like Nibiru.
Dr. Morrison received his Ph.D. in Astronomy from Harvard University and has spent most of his career working in planetary science. Prior to joining NASA he was Professor of Astronomy at the University of Hawaii, where he also directed the 3-meter NASA Infrared Telescope Facility of Mauna Kea Observatory and served for two years as University Vice Chancellor for Research. He has been an investigator on the Mariner 10, Voyager, CRAF, Galileo, and Kepler space missions. Internationally known for his research on the solar system, he is the author of more than 155 technical papers and has published a dozen books, including the leading undergraduate college text in planetary science.
Morrison is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the California Academy of Sciences. He is recipient of the Dryden Medal for research of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Sagan Medal of the American Astronomical Society for public communication, and the Klumpke-Roberts award of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for contributions to science education. Asteroid 2410 Morrison is named in his honor.
my name is David Morrison, I’m a space scientist at NASA Ames Research Center. For the last two years I’ve been answering hundreds of questions from the public about 2012 and the supposed threat to earth. And so now I want to take a chance to talk to some of you more directly.
There is no threat to earth in 2012. There is no danger. All of the talk about a doomsday is a big hoax perpetuated on the Internet and with people trying to make money. So please don’t worry about it. Let me talk about some of the specific things. There has been a lot of talk about a “Planet-x”, or a “Niburu” as a giant planet that’s going to hit the earth or at least come very close in December 2012. The simple fact is Nibiru does not exist.
Aside from worrying about the weird places, the ideas came from, all you have to do is ask the astronomers. If Nibiru or Planet-X were going to come into the inner solar system in 2012, astronomers would have been tracking it for the last decade. All over the world, amateur as well as professional. And it would be visible now to the naked eye. It’s not there. It’s a no-show. There’s nothing to worry about some object coming and striking the earth or damaging us.
There’s also been concern about a so-called galactic alignment. Because in December of every year the sun is roughly in the direction of the galactic center as seen from earth. This happens every year, it really does not mean anything, and there is nothing special about 2012. If you’re not worried about December 2009, don’t worry about December 2012. In fact, alignments, although it may sound scary to some people, are just not an issue for scientists. There are no special forces when planets align, or the sun aligns. It is sort of a curiosity, but not something of real scientific interest.
There’s also been concern that somehow the earth’s poles are going to flip. No one quite explains how this could happen, and if you’re talking about the rotation pole of the earth, that can’t change. It never has and it never will. Some people however are concerned about the change in the magnetic polarity. A shift of the north and south pole which does take place every few hundred thousand years. But there is no reason to think it will happen in 2012, and actually no evidence that it would do any harm to us, even if it did happen. Some people couple this with ideas of solar outbursts, of flares, or coronal mass ejections, which could do great damage to the earth. Well, the solar maximum takes place every 11 years, and occasionally there is some damage to satellites in orbit. And we see bright aurora or northern lights here, but very little real damage is done. And there’s no solar maximum predicted in 2012. The next solar maximum is predicted for the spring of 2013, and it’s actually anticipated that it will be much lower than usual.
Again, all this 2012 talk is just a hoax. It’s a fake. It’s nothing you should worry about. I get questions from many people who are really scared, even some young people who have said they are contemplating suicide, this sort of thing. It’s really sad. And the point of my talking to you now is just to explain to you that there is no problem there. And the many things you see on the Internet and Youtube where people claim that there is some horrible threat about to descend on us are not true. Don’t worry about 2012, and enjoy 2013 when it comes.