Tuesday, March 24, 2009

When Worlds Collide

One of my favorite sites is "Ask An Astrobiologist" where you can actually get your questions on all things extraterrestrial answered by the actual Senior Scientist of NASA's Astrobiology Institute. Now you would expect the questions to deal with microbes on Mars, exploring Saturn's moons, Earth-like planets orbiting distant stars -- wonkish things that most people have a passing interest in but generally leave to the nerds of the world.

That's what you would think. But in reality an inordinate number of questions are about a giant planet named Nibiru that's supposed to crash into the Earth in 2012 because the ancient Mayan calendar says so. This is a gigantic hoax that's been going around for years and has absolutely nothing to do with scientific facts at all, but vast numbers of people are convinced it's true, so they bombard NASA's chief astrobiologist with tons of the loopiest questions imaginable. So many in fact that they've added Nibiru to the Ask An Astrobiologist FAQ!

The FAQ has no effect though, other than convincing Nibiru groupies that NASA is hiding all the supposedly copious evidence. So Dr. Morrison (the aforementioned Astrobiologist) just keeps answering them, suffering fools a bit less gladly each time. One of the funniest questions I've seen was last Friday's, in which some fellow excoriated NASA for insisting Nibiru is a myth when he has photos showing an "object near the sun as large as moon." How can Nibiru be denied, he demanded, when, "Millions people around the world have seen this object. And the number of such people grows very quickly?"

The Astrobiological response, which no doubt took days of research to devise, was: Go outside and look at the sky yourself. Do you see a second moon up there??

No doubt NASA is hiding that too -- you know, with a giant Nibiru Blocker, like evil Mr. Burns tried to do with the Sun in that Simpsons episode.

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