It's certainly the end of the long-count calendar used by the ancient Mayans (whose descendants don't actually believe that we all die tomorrow).
But does that mean it's curtains for our planet?
No, says NASA. With a giant, exhausted, empirical sigh.
Plenty of people apparently do believe in this end-times notion, which is why NASA has felt compelled to set it straight with a frequently-asked-questions page. And it's hard not to detect in their answers a little bit of exasperation -- almost outrage -- at having to perform this task at all. It is hilarious.
It starts out like this:
Question (Q): Are there any threats to the Earth in 2012? Many Internet websites say the world will end in December 2012.You can just hear NASA saying, "Okay? Can we all go back to work -- Oh, you have more questions. Wow. Fine. What."
Answer (A):The world will not end in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.
Q: Is there a planet or brown dwarf called Nibiru or Planet X or Eris that is approaching the Earth and threatening our planet with widespread destruction?Then down at the bottom of the page comes our favorite FAQ exchange:
A: Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an Internet hoax. There is no factual basis for these claims. If Nibiru or Planet X were real and headed for an encounter with the Earth in 2012, astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be visible by now to the naked eye. Obviously, it does not exist. Eris is real, but it is a dwarf planet similar to Pluto that will remain in the outer solar system; the closest it can come to Earth is about 4 billion miles.
Q: How do NASA scientists feel about claims of the world ending in 2012?I guess this means I no longer have an excuse for what's going on in my kitchen sink.
A: For any claims of disaster or dramatic changes in 2012, where is the science? Where is the evidence? There is none, and for all the fictional assertions, whether they are made in books, movies, documentaries or over the Internet, we cannot change that simple fact. There is no credible evidence for any of the assertions made in support of unusual events taking place in December 2012.
Must be dealt with.
Eff you, NASA.