Ironically, Washington chose to use the Internet to spread the message that Internet rumors should be taken with a grain of salt.
"False rumors about the end of the world in 2012 have been commonplace on the Internet for some time," USA.gov
, the US government's official web portal, said in a blog post published on Monday. "Many of the rumors involve the Mayan calendar ending in 2012 (it won't), a comet causing catastrophic effects (definitely not), a hidden planet sneaking up and colliding with us (no and no), and many others."
"Unfortunately, these rumors have many people frightened, especially children. NASA has received thousands of letters concerned about the end of the world. David Morrison, a planetary astronomer and senior scientist for NASA who answers questions from the public about astrobiology, says, 'At least once a week I get a message from a young person-- as young as 11-- who says they are ill/and or contemplating suicide because of the coming doomsday," the government blog continues.
With an entry titled "Beyond 2012: Why the World Won't End," NASA's website
has also addressed the most popular doomsday rumors. These include the well-debunked
Mayan calendar 'prophecy,' adverse planetary alignments, the Nibiru hoax
, magnetic polar shift, solar storms, meteor or comet strikes, and "total blackout."
"The world will not end in 2012," NASA's web page states. "Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012."
"December 21, 2012 won't be the end of the world as we know, however, it will be another winter solstice," NASA adds with a hint of humor.
The United States isn't the only nation whose government has tried to reassure its citizens that the world will still be here in 2013. In Russia, some citizens have reacted with panic
as December 21 nears, prompting the country's minister of emergency situations to declare
over the weekend that the world is not going to end anytime soon.
This is the second time this year that the US government has officially denied the threat of apocalyptic scenarios that seem straight out of science fiction or horror movies. In June, the Centers for Disease Control denied the existence of zombies
during a wave of grisly, cannibalistic crimes.