Saudi scientist dispels doomsday rumors



RIYADH: GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN | ARAB NEWS STAFF

Published — Friday 21 December 2012

Last update 21 December 2012 2:04 am

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Rumors, theories and beliefs around whether or not the world will end today, as predicted by the Mayan civilization long ago, have prompted a senior Saudi scientist to dispel the rumor with evidence from science and religion.
Zaki Abdulrahman Al-Mostafa, head of the astronomy department at the Riyadh-based King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), said the end-of-the-world rumor is totally "baseless and contrary to science and religion."
"Nothing will happen today, and today and tomorrow will be normal days, like any other day of the year, Insha Allah," Al-Mostafa said in an effort to dispel doomsday fears.
The Saudi scientist told Arab News that thousands of news articles about the end of the world uploaded on Internet sites have caused fears not only in the Western world but also in the Middle East. There have been a number of movies, books and websites dedicated to the Dec. 21 prophecy.
Dec. 21, 2012 has been called the "apocalypse" or the "end of the world prophecy." But Al-Mostafa does not believe the claims by people who share the Mayan belief. He said no astronomical event will happen and the world will not end today. "Of course Dec. 21 will be the longest night in the Northern Hemisphere, but no astronomical event will reduce the world to rubble," he added.
He said the South Pole will tilt toward the sun achieving its southernmost position in the sky and will lie directly over the tropic of Capricorn at 23.44 degrees south. "This is the first day of winter or winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of summer or summer solstice in the southern hemisphere," he said. It will be followed by a full moon on Dec. 28 when the moon will lie directly opposite the earth and will be fully illuminated by the sun.
When asked about different predictions made by the Mayans, the Saudi astronomer said all predictions are "baseless." Many predictions for Dec. 21 posted on the Internet talk of a crash with a comet or the annihilation of civilization by a giant solar storm. He said: "I don't have an opinion on the Mayan calendar but I can tell you that what you are reading on Internet sites is untrue and unfounded in the light of science as well as the Islamic religion."
He went on to say there would be two eclipses next year. A solar eclipse will take place on May 10, while a lunar eclipse will happen on April 25. Rumors about doomsday being today have panicked many, especially in the US and Europe. There are reports that some people around the world are stockpiling food and other supplies amid fears that the world will end today. For many in the Middle East the last day of the Mayan calendar is just an excuse to have fun.
Dec. 21, 2012 is the date that coincides with the end of the Mayan calendar as well as a number of other astronomical events predicted to occur on that date. On the so-called end of the world theory, John A. Gunther, a European scientist, said people are scared for no reason. While many private parties are being thrown in people's homes, one resourceful promoter has booked a hotel to host Europe's biggest "end of the world" celebration, he added.
There has been much hype around the fact that a calendar used by the ancient Mayan civilization dating back more than 4,000 years, ends tomorrow — with many believing it coincides with the end of days.
The myth might have originated with the Mayan calendar but in the age of Internet and social media, it has proliferated online, raising questions and concerns among thousands of people around the world. Several space agencies including NASA have been flooded with calls and e-mails from people asking about the purported world end. NASA typically receives 90 calls or e-mails a week. In the last few weeks that number has skyrocketed to between 200 and 300 inquiries a day.

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