The manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Office shares with you the scientific realities surrounding the celestial happenings in the year 2012.
A Scientific Reality Check
I'm not expecting anything special in 2012 around December 21st. I'm not gonna lay in any extra supplies, no survival gear, I'm just gonna lay in an extra supply of egg nog for the coming holiday season.
There's no Planet Nibiru, there's no "Planet X," and nothing is hurtling toward us. But there have been claims on the Internet that there is a planet called Nibiru, four times the size of the Earth that's going to the Earth, or smack it, in December of 2012.
But, there's no telescopic evidence. There's no evidence that it's perturbed any of the inner planets or the outer planets which it would have to do if it were in a orbit around the sun. And so there's no evidence whatsoever. And, as Carl Sagan pointed out many times, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." And, there's no evidence whatsoever for Nibiru.
The Mayan calendar does not end in 2012. They have terms that they used for long periods of time, much like we have terms for long periods of time, like a "decade," a "millennia." The Mayans had something called the "Long Count," which was 5,125 years long, and that's what's coming to an end on December 21, 2012. But, a new "Long Count" begins on December 22nd, 2012, much like our own calendar ends on December 31st, and the new calendar for the next year begins on January 1.
Regarding the "solar maximum" cycle, the sun has a period of solar activity that lasts about 11 years, so it is scheduled to reach a maximum around 2012, but it's been doing this for a millennia. It reaches its solar maximum every 11 years or so for a millennia, and there's no reason to suspect that this 2012 time period will be any different from the others.
Now, as far as the Earth's magnetic field goes, there is, in historic time, pole-reversals, north to south, south to north. But that sort of pole-reversal of the Earth's magnetic field occurs on 400,000-year time scales and it takes thousands of years for that change in polarity to take place. And there's no evidence whatsoever that it's going to start changing polarity in 2012. And, even if it did, that wouldn't affect the rotation of the Earth, nor would it affect the rotation axis of the Earth.
There are no planetary alignments in 2012. There won't be any planetary alignments for a couple of decades on either side of 2012. And even if there were, it wouldn't be an effect because the only objects in space that materially affect the Earth's motion are the sun and the moon.
Folks have to be very careful when they get information on the Web. And that goes especially for objects that are in near-Earth space and are coming close to the Earth. We have a website called "Asteroid Watch" which is backed with evidence and scientific method. If we put something out there, it's the truth. If you go to other websites, and they're putting things out without evidence, without science, don't believe it. You have to be very careful where you go for your information.