Fears of doomsday subside after NASA statement

By Nigar Orujova

The seven billion world population, including over nine million people in Azerbaijan, was appeased after a bunch of myths on doomsday expected on December 21 this year were dismissed by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

"The world will not end in 2012. 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," NASA scientists said in an interview published on the NASA website on November 13.

There have been many predictions of the world's coming to an end since the beginning of time, but fortunately the planet is still safe and sound.

However, the year 2012 has been a time of wild imagination for many regarding theories about a looming apocalypse.

About six myths, which predicted total destruction of the planet this year, were rebuffed by NASA, including those pertaining to the Mayan calendar, the Nibiru planet, a widespread blackout, planet alignment, and a polar shift.

The wave of panic reached Azerbaijan recently enough and managed to sway the minds of many people.

The latest panic concerning this matter was seen in Azerbaijan in 2000 due to a solar eclipse. Now, 12 years later, some Azerbaijani people believe in a total blackout. Popularized by mass media, the expected total blackout has raised concerns among the Azerbaijani public.

Though most youths do not believe in such a course of developments, some middle-aged people have been buying canned food, water and candles to survive the allegedly approaching end of the world.

Some Azerbaijanis started preparations for a total blackout along with New Year preparations, despite the statement of Eyyub Guliyev, head of an astrophysical observatory under the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences.

According to Guliyev, "information on the end of the world on December 21 is groundless."

However, the total blackout panic has affected not only Azerbaijan. The Russians are preparing food stocks, while Ukrainian businessmen are selling space in emergency shelters for about $1,000 per person.

The doomsday panic started long before 2012. Hundreds of people have written to the NASA website since 2008, saying that they were considering to commit suicide, to avoid suffering when the alleged doomsday comes.

According to a Reuters poll, about one in 10 people globally said they were experiencing fear or anxiety about the impending end of the world in 2012. The greatest numbers were in Russia and Poland, while the fewest in Britain.

Nearly 15 percent of people worldwide believe the world will end during their lifetime and 10 percent think the Mayan calendar could signify it will happen in 2012.

The end of the Mayan calendar, which spans about 5,125 years, on December 21, 2012 has sparked interpretations and suggestions that it marks the end of the world and become one of the most popular world's end predictions. Even people, who have never heard of the Maya, tend to believe in their calendar's interpretations.

The Reuters international poll of 16,262 people in more than 20 countries showed that 22 percent of Turkey and the United States population believes in the world coming to an end, compared to seven percent in Belgium and eight percent in Britain who fear they would witness an apocalypse during their lives.

The poll's results showed that people with lower education or household income levels, as well as those under 35 were more likely to believe in an apocalypse during their lifetime or in 2012, or have anxiety over the prospect.

Fortunately, the fears over the dire predictions seem to have subsided and people of the Earth have breathed a sigh of relief.