Merry Christmas, The End Is Near

And quite frankly, I’m looking forward to it.

christmas-lollipop-with-santa-hat

This is you.

In keeping with the spirit of the holidays, I’m going to help dismiss any fears that the world will end by administering a healthy dose of logic, reasoning, irony, nawlij and wit.

Tomorrow, the world dies. At least, according to the Mayan calendar (or rather, a poorly-interpreted version of it). Variously, the end shall come by way of:

1. Solar Maximum, which is a period of high activity from our sun during a regularly-occurring 11-year solar cycle.
2. Interaction with our galactic supermassive black hole (Abbreviated to SMBH herein) at the center of the Milky Way (which, incidentally is the reason we’re here in the first place.
3. (And this one is my personal favorite) Collision with the rogue planet Nibiru.

SPOILER ALERT!

The world isn’t going to end. If you (or any of your peers) believe this to be true, then I do believe I have a bridge you may be interested in purchasing.

If you believe that the world will end on the 20th of December, 2012, did you just fall off the turnip wagon?

I’ll say it again: If you believe that the Earth is immediately threatened by any of these phenomena, you are a foolish, ignorant, incurious, credulous boob. A dimwit, a ninny, a nincompoop, a schlemiel, a stooge or a sucker of such scope that it’s a wonder you don’t have your own solar system because the breadth and depth of your silliness is such that it rivals the gravitic pull of the SMBH which anchors the stars of our galaxy in place. Personally, I think it’s a modern take on the joke, “How do you keep a moron in suspense?”

Now that the insults are out of the way, I can settle down to some good ol’ fashioned reasoning (backed by science) and address these issues one-by-one.

1. Solar Maximum

Solar maximum is, in short, a period of elevated activity in the sun. This is the only one of the three phenomena that has even a shred of credibility, as it really does pose a danger of disrupting global electronics, affecting everything from cell phones to power grids. It also has the added cachet of being real. However, considering that this is a cycle that repeats itself every 11 years, is itself a subset of a grander cycle that loops approximately every thousand years (give or take a century), and that mankind has existed on this planet for nearly a quarter of a million years, one is forced to come to the conclusion that it is an entirely survivable event, society and civilization completely intact, if a bit worse for wear on the backside of the affair.

2. Interaction with the Milky Way’s Supermassive Black Hole

This event is also has an element of validity to it, with one rather small caveat. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the Earth interacts with our supermassive black hole (SMBH) all the time through a little-known force called gravity. Gravity’s pull is slight but its reach is interminable and cumulative. Sol (our little star’s name) orbits the galactic center in a period which lasts 240 million years.  So chances are that nothing will happen. Much like how nothing happens when the Terra, Sol and Luna all line up or complete their respective orbits.

I must take the opportunity to correct myself. I rather enjoy being the bearer of bad news, particularly when it shatters someone’s absurd viewpoint of the world. I suppose you could say it’s what gets me up in the morning.

3. Collision with the Rogue Planet Nibiru

This one, of the three, is the most ridiculous of all and therefore the easiest to discredit.
Just to put things into perspective: Mars, Jupiter, Mercury and Venus are all planets in the Solar System which are (just) visible without the aid of a telescope, as are the ISS and many of Earth’s communication satellites and they are all further away from Earth, or microscopic in comparison, than Nibiru would have to be were it hell-bent for us.

Just go outside and look up. See a planet? No? Then may I submit to you that you may be in error? If there were a planet headed this way with our name on it, it would be the biggest, brightest, most visible object in the sky, dwarfing the sun, the moon and every other visible celestial body by orders of magnitude. It would be nearly all we would be able to see, it would dominate our skyscape, turn night into day from the reflected sunlight, and would affect everything on our planet from tides to electronics to migration patterns and Earth’s rotation and weather system.

If, in your attempts to validate the occurrence of such an event by suggesting sudden materialization in our orbit from another region of space, or a just-in-time arrival facilitated by high speed, worm-hole, or nearly any other explanation of which you may conceive, all you’re doing is exhibiting for all to see your complete lack of knowledge of pretty much anything whatsoever. Such intellectual somersaults are required for things of no factual backing.

In Conclusion

This argument, usually attributed to Carl Sagan, sums up how science works. In essence,
“We know what we know because we have tested it and these are the results, this is what happens.” It’s like detective work, looking for clues and Whodunit, where Whodunit isn’t a person but a thing.

Basically, science works like this:

A bunch of frat boys are out drinking and they start making bar bets about what they can or cannot do (think Chandler and Joey from Friends and their game, “Fireball”). This eventually leads to such pranks as engineering students dismantling their prof’s car and reassembling it on the roof of the main building and shortly after that, putting men on the moon or sending spacecraft to the outer reaches of the Solar System and, quite likely interstellar travel. No amount of praying or woo will get you there.

On the flip side, claimants of such things as Nibiru (and quite often religion) have to pass at the very least, even logical muster. None of it does, and requires incredible (and fallible) feats of logic to justify. The universe loves parsimony. No backflipping involved; the universe is straightforward, and economical. We may not understand it, but that’s not because the universe doesn’t comprehend us. It’s because we don’t comprehend the universe. But we’re learning.

What we have learned is that we have no idea about most of the universe, except for about 4% of it. Part of that 4%, however, is the certain knowledge that the world will not end tomorrow because of Planet X/Nibiru. It will not end by way of galactic alignment. It will not end because of solar maximum. Not any of it, and not tomorrow.

However, just in case it does, there’s at least an upshot to it all.

We’ll be rid o’ that lot, eh now?

And that’s about the best present anyone could ask for.

Now go open a science textbook, will ya?

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