Some Doomsday Crazy With That Google Search?

wtf?

After collecting myself from the bout of giggles when I read The Bloggess’ post about the rather bizarre auto-suggestion in Google Search, I was ready to find some more. (Awesome, the old classic, “french military victories” followed by clicking the “I’m feeling lucky” button is still working.)

But what’s this? @Mactavish shoots me a tweet telling me to check out typing in “why will” to the Google Search box. As innocuous as it may sound, the auto suggestions are not. I mean, why the heck would anyone need the suggestion: “why will a carrot slice when placed in tap water for several hours become very stiff”?

Kidding. Mary isn’t referring to stiff carrots, I think she might be pointing out the sheer amount of doomsday Crazy going on. Wow. Type in “why will” and you get “why will the world end in 2012″? How about typing in “why won’t” and get redirected here.

Sigh.

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A Bevvy of Doom

On the red carpet: John Cusack tells me what he'll be doing on Dec. 21st, 2012. Skiing (credit: Debra O'Neill/Discovery News)

On the red carpet: John Cusack tells me what he'll be doing on Dec. 21st, 2012. Skiing (credit: Debra O'Neill/Discovery News)

Currently sitting in the departure lounge in LAX before I fly out to Washington D.C. to meet up with the Discovery News crew ahead of the launch of our brand new site (keep an eye on Discovery Space, it will soon be integrated into the Discovery News redesign — the beta version looks awesome).

Before I fly, I just wanted to post the news that the Discovery Channel will be airing the documentary I was interviewed for by KPI Productions in August. According to my DVR, the show “Surviving 2012″ will be showing on Sunday (Nov. 8th). I’m not certain when it will be showing internationally, but in the US it will be on at 9pm PDT — so check your local listings for any slight changes in schedule. I think it’s going to be a great show as science is the focus, not the hype (unlike the idiotic History Channel-esque Nostradamus nonsense). However, I think fellow interviewee Dr. Alex Young and myself arrived at a very interesting conclusion as to the realities of being hit by an aggressive solar storm. Although our conclusions are far from the rip-roaring, solar blowtorch popular in sci-fi, we do point out that solar physics research is horribly underfunded considering our dependence on vulnerable power and communications systems.

In other news, on Tuesday night I attended the 2012 premier red carpet event in Downtown Los Angeles. I met some bloke named John and another called Roland. Apparently they’re quite famous, but what would I know. For more on my A-list adventures, have a read of “What Will John Cusack be Doing on Dec. 21, 2012? Skiing.” and check out some of the photos from the event via my Facebook account.

Forget 2012, THIS Is What The Mayans Should Be Remembered For

maya-pyramid

Forget the supposed “Mayan Prophecy” of doomsday in 2012, the Mayan civilization never (ever!) predicted that the world was going to end on Dec. 21st 2012. Really, no ancient Maya elder ever said anything about doom. Also, no Mayan descendent believes that their ancestors foretold doom (and in fact, they’re getting rather pissed off at the insinuation).

Are you seeing a pattern yet? Please say you are.

In short, the world isn’t going to end in 2012, it is simply the end date of the Mayan calendar. There is nothing scary, spooky, weird or ominous about that despite what the doomsayers keep telling us. As I talked about in a previous article, 21/12/2012 is going to be a poignant reminder that the Mayan Long Count calendar represents the last breath of an ancient civilization.

And to be honest, who needs doomsday theories when the history of the Mayan culture is so fascinating anyway. I’m totally blown away by this video:

I’ve already received a message indicating this CNN news article is somehow a coincidence and therefore proof of some kind of “shift.” (I’m assuming we’re taking about a shift of a “New Age-conciousness” kind and not of a “Oh crap, the magnetic poles of Earth just went ass-over-tit for no apparent reason” kind.)

However, the timing of this news report is no coincidence. Can you guess why?

Hint: in about three weeks time, a fun little movie called 2012 is going to be released. It might have a terrible plot, it might even be over-hyped, but I wager that the 2012 movie will be a blockbuster. Blockbusters = audience. So, why do you think this mother of all coincidences just happened? Why would CNN decide to run this news report now? Do you think it might be the same reason why every media outlet will be pulling apart every aspect of 2012 for most of November?

Wow, I am getting cynical.

Special thanks to @Aife_Earthstone for the link to this video!

Prof. Brian Cox Accidentally REVEALS the TRUTH About the LHC!!!!

(Note the clever use of CAPS and excessive exclamation marks in the title. It speaks volumes.)

I guess this confirms I was wrong. Consider this an apology to all the crackpots, doomsayers, cranks and Walter Wagner. I’m sorry I got it all… so… wrong.

While out on the town in London, Bad Astronomer Phil Plait pulled Prof. Brian Cox out of a pub and subjected him to some intense interrogation. Obviously caught with his guard down, Cox folded under the pressure and briefly told the world what we can expect when the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) recommences experiments in November. Wow, just… wow.

This made me giggle. Looks like TAM London was a tonne of fun, hopefully next time I can go.

But for now, sorry Walter, you’re still wrong.

Late to the Doomsday Party: NASA Denounces 2012

nemesis

As we have probably all guessed by now, the Institute for Human Continuity is a viral campaign designed to generate a huge buzz around the upcoming November 13th movie called 2012.

Ever since I started writing about 2012 (way back in May 2008 with “No Doomsday in 2012“), I’ve been inundated with emails, tweets, comments, even phone calls about the 2012 doomsday phenomena. These messages have ranged from mild curiosity to outright panic. I’ve also had many crackpots trying to convince me that my scientific reasoning is not valid (which it is).

There’s also been a few bonuses, including guest appearances on the outstanding “Apocalypse” episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! and most recently, the upcoming Discovery Channel documentary on the same subject.

However, in the run-up to a perfectly timed movie about the “Mayan prophesy,” Sony Pictures kick-started the mother of all viral campaigns in January. The movie 2012 will be a huge event, but basing an entire marketing ploy on fear and disinformation left a lot to be desired. So for the last 10 months, I’ve been busy writing not so much about the bad science being used in these wacky 2012 theories (check out my 2008 “No Doomsday in 2012” series for the science), but about the various advertising campaigns for the movie.

However, up until this point, there’s been little official comment from NASA about all the nonsense that has been stirred up. This seems surprising as most doomsday theories involve butchered astronomical objects, surely the US space agency should take a stance on the whole matter?

Now, NASA astrobiologist Dr David Morrison has gone on the record to say the 2012 doomsday theories are bunk. It turns out that Dr Morrison has also been flooded with messages from people worried that all the hype might be real.

Interestingly, in response to accusations that Sony Pictures’ viral campaign was irresponsible, Sony’s publicity director said, “It is very clear that this site is connected to a fictional movie. This can readily be seen in the logos on the site.”

However, in January when the Institute for Human Continuity went live, indications that the site had anything to do with a fictional movie could only be found if you dug very deep into the well-polished Flash website depicting Planet X causing death and destruction on Earth. I don’t recall any logos.

In an attempt to allay any doomsday phobia in the run-up to November (and for the next 3 years), Dr Morrison has issued a nice guide about every reason why you shouldn’t be concerned about 2012 (and that it’s just a movie).

Source: Telegraph. Special thanks to Fraser Cain at the Universe Today for pointing me to David Morrison’s publication.

To A Ufologist, The Answer Is So Obvious

For a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a conspiracy theorist’s brain, check out this hilarious explanation of the super-duper-hyper-speed-top-secret-military-drone that was captured in this video of an Iranian missile test on October 8th. There’s some spooky music added to the edited FOX News coverage to get you in the mood:

So do you see what the conspiracy is? Something really fast shot through the clouds just after Iran launched their Shahab-3 rocket. Obviously there is something weird about that, right?

It’s OK, Nick Pope is on the case.

One theory is that it’s a secret American drone. At any time there are prototype aircraft and drones being operated that won’t be shown in public for years.

Stealth aircraft flew for many years before their existence was acknowledged.

But the speed and acceleration seems phenomenal. I’m not convinced we’ve got anything capable of such manoeuvres.”

Oh come on Nick, you can’t fool us! You know it’s not a classified military aircraft don’t you. In your expert opinion, you’re “not convinced we’ve got anything capable of such manoeuvres.” Don’t leave us hanging, just say it. We won’t judge you. Much.

Obviously leaning toward the extraterrestrial argument, Pope — who was once a UFO advisor to the British Ministry of Defence — appears to have numbed all the reasoning functions of his brain. He’s taken one look at the video footage — probably with an amazed look on his face, mouth open wide — and when asked by reporters what he saw, he responds with a smug look of knowing. There be aliens in them clouds.

As you might have guessed from the video, it’s certainly not a UFO. Hell, it’s not even a flying object. It’s a shadow. For observers in the space community who see rocket launches all the time, shadows of rocket smoke trails often fall on clouds. In the case of the Iranian missile launch (which, in actuality, is the real concern in this footage), the sunlight is coming from the right of the picture. As the missile passes through the altitude at which the Sun lines up with the cloud, a shadow dissects the cloud. It really is that simple. Any confusion about the altitude of the cloud is down to the angle of the camera view and the opacity of the cloud.

For his continuing UFO studies, I think Pope should be doing more research on how to recognize shadows rather than letting his imagination run rampant. However, it is interesting to see how the brain of a prominent ufologist works; zero skeptical thought, oodles of imagination and conspiracy theories behind every cloud.

What REALLY Happened to the LCROSS Centaur?

<conspiracy mode>

In the early hours of Friday morning at 4:31am, the spent Centaur rocket from the NASA LCROSS mission slammed into the surface of the south pole of the moon. What was the point in that?

Well, NASA was hoping that the tumbling chunk of metal the size of a small bus would kick up a huge plume of dust. Following 4 minutes behind was the shepherding LCROSS spacecraft, also on a kamikaze dive, hoping to drop through the plume, sensitive instruments ready to analyse the dust for water.

I know what you’re thinking: what right does NASA have to BOMB the Moon? They have NO RIGHT AT ALL!!

It turns out that they are actually waging a top secret war against the population of peaceful extraterrestrials that live on the far side of the Moon. This “experiment” was in fact a reckless attack against a superior alien civilization, intended to strike fear into the hearts of the aliens.

If you were to believe the NASA promo video of the event, this should have been spectacular, vast quantities of lunar regolith blasting into space… it should have been akin to the biggest Fourth of July firework detonating. This “shock and awe” tactic is typical of the US space agency. The huge mass of the Centaur (a little under 2400kg), combined with its break-neck speed (1.5 miles per second) should have unleashed the equivalent energy of a tonne of TNT exploding. However, what NASA didn’t tell us was that Centaur was also carrying plutonium, so the explosion should have been a LOT bigger, easily visible to the naked eye.

But what did we see? Nothing. What did NASA see? Nothing. So what happened? Well, the answer to that is a little more compelling than what NASA is telling us.

Yes, they can show us images of a meagre “flash” as the Centaur hit inside a lunar crater, but I don’t think Centaur hit the Moon at all… the Centaur rocket was swallowed by the Moon.

Don’t believe me? Moments before impact, NASA’s lunar satellite — the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) — was approaching the location and it took this photo. What you see here will shock you. It will astound you. And what’s more, it’s REAL.

Aliens DO live on the Moon, and they were prepared for the NASA bombing…

lcross-conspiracy

</conspiracy mode>

I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. In the run-up to the LCROSS impact, the sheer amount of crazy conspiracy theories hit fever-pitch (I blogged about it on Space Disco 2 hours before impact). Some of my favourite theories involved alien civilizations on the lunar surface, plutonium on LCROSS (to destroy the Moon), the “fact” that it was all just a publicity stunt and the LCROSS mission didn’t exist at all… and the strange theory that the Moon feels pain.

Yawn.

A polite message to the conspiracy theorists: Come on people, stop making stuff up and understand the real science. You might find reality more interesting than your twisted fantasies.

Image: The Sarlacc pit monster from Star Wars, Copernicus lunar crater and the LCROSS Centaur rocket. Photoshopping: Me.

Oops… I really geeked out this time, didn’t I.