Thursday, December 20, 2012

Slightly Off-Topic: Mutating Neutrinos and Other Complete Nonsense

The Los Angeles Times is airing a story describing how NASA is being deluged with calls from people thinking that the world is going to end tomorrow, on December 21, supposedly at the end of the Mayan Calendar.  Such a story is a testament to just how bad science education is in this country and how little scientific inquiry is valued.  Kate Mather writes:
The myth might have originated with the Mayan calendar, but in the age of the Internet and social media, it proliferated online, raising questions and concerns among hundreds of people around the world who have turned to NASA for answers.

Dwayne Brown, an agency spokesman, said NASA typically receives about 90 calls or emails per week containing questions from people. In recent weeks, he said, that number has skyrocketed — from 200 to 300 people are contacting NASA per day to ask about the end of the world.

"Who's the first agency you would call?" he said. "You're going to call NASA."

The questions range from myth (Will a rogue planet crash into Earth? Is the sun going to explode? Will there be three days of darkness?) to the macabre (Brown said some people have "embraced it so much" they want to hurt themselves). So, he said, NASA decided to do "everything in our power" to set the facts straight.

That effort included interviews with scientists posted online and a web page Brown said has drawn more than 4.6 million views.
Why should such a page even be necessary? Why has it drawn so many hits? (okay, I would probably go there just to see what is on it).

Here is the video that NASA created.  Humorously, they post-dated it for December 22, 2012.

Many people seem to have bought into the “2012” ideas, even though when that film came out, NASA had to quell rumors then. Obviously, most of those people didn't learn anything at the time. In fairness, I have a copy of 2012 simply because the special effects are awesome. But from the minute the Indian scientist says “the neutrinos have started to mutate,” you know you are in for popcorn fun—or you should.  In a perfect world,  NASA would have a peaceful day and the phones wouldn't ring.  Sadly, we don't live in that world. 

1 comment:

  1. It's the End of the World Again