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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Speaking of conspiracy theories …

V838 Mon, the star that's touted as photographic evidence of Nibiru.
(image by NASA, ESA and H.E. Bond (STScI)

NASA has driven the final nail in the coffin of Comet Elenin—or has it … ?

By Linda Felaco

NASA has issued a press release intended to be its final word on the subject of Comet Elenin, which was supposed to destroy Earth earlier this month. According to Don Yeomans of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, "Elenin did as new comets passing close by the sun do about two percent of the time: It broke apart." Yeomans goes on to compare the comet's gravitational influence on Earth to that of a subcompact car.

Perhaps the most interesting tidbit in this nonstory is the revelation that NASA scientists are Monty Python fans. In homage to the classic dead parrot sketch, Yeomans deadpanned, "Comet Elenin has rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-comet." Or as Wizard of Oz fans might say, "It's not only merely dead, it's really most sincerely dead."

Then again, conspiracy theorists don't tend to be swayed by denials, which they attribute as part of the conspiracy. After all, the complete lack of evidence is the surest sign that the conspiracy is working, and just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. Comet Elenin may be defunct, but what about Nibiru, which I neglected to mention in my recent doomsday compilation? This rogue planet is scheduled to collide with us and destroy Earth on December 21, 2012. Nevermind that both NASA and Google deny Nibiru exists. That's just part of the conspiracy! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

Yes, the 2012 doomsday predictions have been coming so fast and thick that NASA planetary scientist David Morrison has created an "Ask an astrobiologist" page on the NASA web site to address the public's concerns and even posted a 4-minute video online.

Now, on the one hand, I think it's great that NASA is being responsive to the public, which after all pays for its operations through taxes. But on the other hand, I'm not sure I want our government scientists wasting their time responding to the crazies. The problem with rational explanations is that they only work with rational people. Seems to me NASA scientists have more important things to do, like tracking the real and known near-Earth objects (none of which, I hasten to add, currently pose any threat).

No, I feel quite sure that when December 21, 2012, rolls around and nothing happens, some new doomsday prediction will come along to take its place à la Harold Camping. But why wait for the crazies to dream one up? Let's start one now! As we all know, 13 is an unlucky number (well, only in our culture; other cultures have different unlucky numbers, but let's not get into that). So of course the end of the world is really going to come in 2013. But which day? Our calendar only has 12 months, but the lunar calendar has 13. So the end of the world must be coming on the 13th day of the 13th month of the lunar calendar, which would be December 16, 2013. Pass it on! And remember, you heard it here first on Progressive Charlestown!