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NASA warns Mayan apocalypse stories pose threat to frightened children and suicidal teenagersThe National Aeronautics and Space
Administration warns that 2012 Mayan apocalypse
rumors pose a real-life threat to frightened children and depressive
teenagersSome say they can't eat, or are too worried to sleep, while others say that they are suicidal, according to NASA astrobiologist David Morrison
The apocalypse rumors began with claims that
Nibiru, a rogue planet discovered by the Sumerians, will crash into
Earth on December 21, killing everyone
04:30 GMT, 30 November 2012
While some are throwing fantastical Doomsday countdown parties, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is issuing grave warnings that 2012 Mayan apocalypse rumors pose a real-life threat to frightened children and depressive teenagers.
David Morrison, an astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center, said on Wednesday that he receives a large number of emails and letters from worried citizens, most often from young people.
Some say they can't eat, or are too worried to sleep, while others say they are suicidal, Morrison said.
Doomsday fears: Fantastical rumors of the world's end are causing real-life concerns among frightened children and depressive teenagers, NASA scientists says
Ancient signs: The doomsday fears are based on misinterpretations of the Mayan calendar
He made that announcement during an online video 'hangout' event hosted by NASA on Google+, calling the propagation of rumors on the Internet to frighten children ‘evil.’
‘While this is a joke to some people and a mystery to others, there is a core of people who are truly concerned,’ Morrison said.
NASA, a United States government agency, recently set up an information page on its website explaining why the world is not going to end on December 21, 2012.
The apocalypse rumors and fears are based on misinterpretations of the Mayan calendar, as SPACE.com reported.
The rumors began with claims that Nibiru, a rogue planet discovered by the Sumerians, will crash into Earth on December 21, killing everyone, according to NASA’s website.
Rumor debunker: David Morrison, an astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center, says the world will not end on December 2011
Rumor originator: Zecharia Sitchin wrote in 1976 that he had found and translated Sumerian documents identifying a rogue planet that will destroy Earth
The origins of those rumors have been linked to the works of the late Azerbaijani-born author Zecharia Sitchin, who wrote in 1976 that he had found and translated Sumerian documents identifying the rogue planet. Sitchin died in 2010 at the age of 90.
There is no such planet, scientists say.
‘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,’ NASA states on its apocalypse fear debunking page.
Other rumors — including claims that the Earth's magnetic field will suddenly reverse and claims that the planet is heading towards a black hole at the center of the Milky Way — were also dismissed on Wednesday.
Concerns about the planet’s demise would be better directed on more substantiated problems such as climate change, Andrew Fraknoi, an astronomer at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California, said.
Civilization of the past: An ancient Mayan temple in Central America
Ritual: An indigenous man during a Mayan ceremony on February 21 2011 in Guatemala City, Guatemala