SETI hosting discussion to quell "end of the world" concerns


According to some interpretations of the Mayan calendar, the world will come to an end on the winter solstice this year, which has led to much speculation about how the alleged doomsday will arrive.

The 7 p.m. panel discussion hosted by the Mountain View-based nonprofit scientific and educational organization will feature Foothill College astronomy professor Andrew Fraknoi, SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center scientist Dr. David Morrison, and Ed Krupp of the Griffith Observatory in Southern California.

The panelists will address fears that Earth is set to explode or implode, that there will be a catastrophe caused by a certain cosmic alignment, that the sun will explode or that the Earth's poles will shift.

"Sadly, there are a number of people who, because of all the Internet rumors, are seriously worried," Fraknoi sasid.

Fraknoi said one such rumor is that a loose planet called Nibiru will hit the Earth on Dec. 21 -- a scenario he called "a completely made-up thing," pointing out that if there were a wayward planet headed our way, we would see it in the sky by now.

"All of the ways in which people are scared have been sort of pushed together into one giant ball of wax here," Fraknoi said.

Officials at the SETI Institute said they have been getting calls from concerned parties who are hoping to get more details about the feasibility of an astronomical disaster arriving in 10 days.

Fraknoi said he has every expectation that the world will still be spinning on Dec. 22.

"I'm afraid that I'll have to pay taxes in 2013," he said. His advice for what to do on Dec. 21?

"Celebrate life, enjoy the Earth," he said. "As much as we're ruining the planet on a long-term basis, on a short-term basis it's the most hospitable planet we know of."

The panel discussion is taking place at the SETI Institute, located at 189 Bernardo Ave. in Mountain View.

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