The Nibiru cataclysm is a supposed disastrous encounter between the Earth and a large planetary object (either a collision or a near-miss) which certain groups believe will take place in the early 21st century. Believers in thisdoomsday event usually refer to this object as Planet X or Nibiru. The idea that a planet-sized object will collide with or closely pass by Earth in the near future is not supported by any scientific evidence and has been rejected aspseudoscience and an internet hoax by astronomers and planetary scientists.
The idea was first put forward in 1995 by Nancy Lieder, founder of the website ZetaTalk. Lieder describes herself as a contactee with the ability to receive messages from extraterrestrials from the Zeta Reticuli star system through an implant in her brain. She states that she was chosen to warn mankind that the object would sweep through the innerSolar System in May 2003 (though that date was later postponed) causing Earth to undergo a physical pole shift that would destroy most of humanity.The prediction has subsequently spread beyond Lieder's website and has been embraced by numerous Internet doomsday groups, most of which linked the event to the 2012 phenomenon. The name "Nibiru" is derived from the works of the ancient astronaut writer Zecharia Sitchin and his interpretations of Babylonian and Sumerian mythology; he denied any connection between his work and various claims of a coming apocalypse.
Zecharia Sitchin and Sumer
Although Lieder originally referred to the object as "Planet X", it has become deeply associated with Nibiru, a planet from the works of ancient astronaut proponent Zecharia Sitchin, particularly his book The 12th Planet. According to Sitchin's interpretation of Babylonian religious texts, which contradicts conclusions reached by credited scholars on the subject, a giant planet (called Nibiru or Marduk) passes by Earth every 3,600 years and allows its sentient inhabitants to interact with humanity. These beings, which Sitchin identified with the Annunaki of Sumerian myth, would become humanity's first gods.Lieder first made the connection between Nibiru and her Planet X on her site in 1996 ("Planet X does exist, and it is the 12th Planet, one and the same.").
However, Sitchin, who died in 2010, denied any connection between his work and Lieder's claims. In 2007, partly in response to Lieder's proclamations, Sitchin published a book, The End of Days, which set the time for the last passing of Nibiru by Earth at 556 BC, which would mean, given the object's supposed 3,600-year orbit, that it would return sometime around AD 2900.He did however say that he believed that the Annunaki might return earlier by spaceship, and that the timing of their return would coincide with the shift from the astrological Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius, sometime between 2090 and 2370.
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Astronomers reject the idea of Nibiru, and have made efforts to inform the public that there is no threat to Earth. They point out that such an object so close to Earth would be easily visible to the naked eye. A planet such as Nibiru would create noticeable effects in the orbits of the outer planets.Some counter this by claiming that the object has been concealed behind the Sun for several years, though this would be geometrically impossible.Most photographs showing "Nibiru" by the Sun are in fact of lens flares, false images of the Sun created by reflections within the lens.
Astronomer Mike Brown notes that if this object's orbit were as described, it would only have lasted in the Solar System for a million years or so before Jupiter expelled it, and that there is no way another object's magnetic field could have such an effect on Earth.Lieder's assertions that the approach of Nibiru would cause the Earth's rotation to stop or its axis to shift violate the laws of physics. In his rebuttal of Immanuel Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision, which made the same claim that the Earth's rotation could be stopped and then restarted, Carl Sagan noted that, "the energy required to brake the Earth is not enough to melt it, although it would result in a noticeable increase in temperature: The oceans would be raised to the boiling point of water ... Also, how does the Earth get started up again, rotating at approximately the same rate of spin? The Earth cannot do it by itself, because of the law of the conservation of angular momentum."
In a 2009 interview with the Discovery Channel, Mike Brown noted that, while it is not impossible that the Sun has a distant planetary companion, such an object would have to be lying very far from the observed regions of the Solar System to have no detectable gravitational effect on the other planets. A Mars-sized object could lie undetected at 300 AU (10 times the distance of Neptune); a Jupiter-sized object at 30,000 AU. To travel 1000 AU in two years, an object would need to be moving at 2400 km/s – faster than the galactic escape velocity. At that speed, any object would be shot out of the Solar System, and then out of the Milky Waygalaxy into intergalactic space.
Many believers in the imminent approach of Planet X/Nibiru accuse NASA of deliberately covering up visual evidence of its existence.One such accusation involves the IRAS infrared space observatory, launched in 1983. The satellite briefly made headlines due to an "unknown object" that was at first described as "possibly as large as the giant planet Jupiter and possibly so close to Earth that it would be part of this Solar System".This newspaper article has been cited by proponents of the Nibiru cataclysm, beginning with Lieder herself, as evidence for the existence of Nibiru.However, further analysis revealed that of several initially unidentified objects, nine were distant galaxies and the tenth was "galactic cirrus"; none were found to be Solar System bodies.
Another accusation frequently made by websites predicting the collision is that the U.S. government built the South Pole Telescope (SPT) to track Nibiru's trajectory, and that the object has been imaged optically.However, the SPT (which is not funded by NASA) is a radio telescope, and cannot take optical images. Its South Pole location was chosen due to the low-humidity environment, and there is no way an approaching object could be seen only from the South Pole.The "picture" of Nibiru posted on YouTube was revealed, in fact, to be a Hubble image of the expanding light echo around the star V838 Mon.
Another conspiracy claim regards a patch of missing data in Google Sky near the constellation of Orion, which has often been cited as evidence that Nibiru has been redacted. However, the same region of sky can still be viewed by thousands of amateur astronomers. A scientist at Google said that the missing data is due to a glitch in the stitching software used to piece the images together.
Another piece of claimed evidence drawn from Google Sky is the carbon star CW Leonis, which is the brightest object in the 10 μm infrared sky and is frequently claimed to be Nibiru.
The impact of the public fear of the Nibiru cataclysm has been especially felt by professional astronomers. In 2008, Mike Brown said that Nibiru was the most common pseudoscientific topic he was asked about.
Before his retirement after 2012, David Morrison, director of SETI, CSI Fellow and Senior Scientist at NASA's Astrobiology Institute at Ames Research Center, said he received 20 to 25 emails a week about the impending arrival of Nibiru: some frightened, others angry and naming him as part of the conspiracy to keep the truth of the impending apocalypse from the public, and still others asking whether or not they should kill themselves, their children or their pets. Half of these emails are from outside the U.S. "Planetary scientists are being driven to distraction by Nibiru," notes science writer Govert Schilling, "And it is not surprising; you devote so much time, energy and creativity to fascinating scientific research, and find yourself on the tracks of the most amazing and interesting things, and all the public at large is concerned about is some crackpot theory about clay tablets, god-astronauts and a planet that doesn't exist."Prior to the 2012 date, Morrison stated that he hoped that the non-arrival of Nibiru could serve as a teaching moment for the public, instructing them on "rational thought and baloney detection", but doubted that would happen.
Morrison noted in a lecture recorded on FORA.tv that there was a huge disconnect between the large number of people on the Internet who believed in Nibiru's arrival and the majority of scientists who have never heard of it. To date he is the only major NASA scientist to speak out regularly against the Nibiru phenomenon.
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