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Dead end of apocalyptic signs

Recent stories ranging from Earth’s shifting poles to mysteriously plunging birds have society furiously fretting and shouting about doomsday.

The 2012 end-of-the-world scare is the new Chuck Norris joke. Everyone’s got their own take, whether it’s black holes or the classic simultaneous worldwide earthquakes scenario.

Sorry to rain on anyone’s apocalyptic parade, but the world isn’t coming to an end anytime soon.

If the world isn’t ending, how do you explain birds falling from the sky by the thousands?

For residents of Beebe, Ark., 2011 already reached apocalyptic levels when 4,000 to 5,000 blackbirds plummeted, dead, from the sky during New Year’s Eve festivities.

The town’s police captain even said to the Associated Press, “for all the doomsdayers, that was definitely the end of the world.”

But maybe one of the birds had a heart attack and just happened to be the leader.

Blackbirds have poor night vision and are flocking birds, meaning the group of birds follows one lead bird.

So one bird dive-bombs, thousands follow and the AP steps into Arkansas for the first time in years.

If this “birdie see, birdie do” theory seems a bit farfetched, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission suggests that fireworks from the New Year’s Eve celebrations may have startled the birds, causing them to fly into chimneys and houses in the dark.

Other theories have been that the birds were pelted by high-altitude hail or lightening. Other researchers
say that mass bird kills, while uncommon, are not unusual, especially when paired with blunt trauma like those of the blackbirds in Arkansas.

What about the Earth’s rotation changing the entire astrology field?

Many end-of-the-world theories involve changes in the planet’s rotation and last week one became national news when the Minnesota Planetarium Society claimed Earth’s alignment to zodiac star signs shifted by nearly a month.

Avid horoscope readers were shocked to hear about the addition of the new zodiac sign Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer, which barely beat out the second-place name Ohwhocaresaboutthis.  

Where will mankind turn when it can’t even put its faith into pseudo-science?

The zodiac, scientifically, has always been a way of plotting the sun as it moves beyond constellations, one of which has always been the new zodiac sign.

Because the zodiac you read predictions from in magazines was not arranged for astrological accuracy, reports say the new sign does not affect the “tropical zodiac” system anyways, and astronomers have known about the 13th sign for decades.

Both zodiacs are currently accepted.

What about the Mayan calendar ending in 2012?

The Mayans are an ancient civilization, so that doesn’t make them the contemporary source for apocalypse predictions.

Believers claim that it is because the civilization’s long-count calendar ends on Dec. 21, 2012.  

Yet according to National Geographic, the Mayan calendar doesn’t stop, but rather starts a new cycle on that date, involving more renewal than death.

The Mayans were skilled mathematicians and astrologers, but by no means were they psychic.

What about black holes and other space theories?

Another common 2012 fear is that on Dec. 21, 2012 — the same day that the Mayan cycle ends — the Earth will line up with the sun and the Milky Way galaxy’s supermassive black hole, surely signaling doomsday.

Yet even 2012 theory websites like logical2012.info dismiss this scenario, claiming that an aligned black hole several parsecs away wouldn’t have the gravitational pull to touch Earth.  

National Geographic reports that NASA’s “Ask an Astrobiologist” website receives thousands of queries addressing the end of the world by “people who are genuinely frightened” but said that almost all theories are easily explained away.

To hear some of the questions, and their answers, visit astrobiology.nasa.gov. Or…… pick up a science book.

And most importantly, don’t panic.