The statement issued by a Los Angeles observatory and Sky & Telescope magazine this week says it all: "The world will not come to an end on Dec. 21, 2012." It seems a confluence of events—the coming end of the Mayan calendar, for one, and the marketing of a new apocalyptic movie, for another—is fueling hysteria that Armageddon is just a few years away. It's reached such a fever pitch that scientists who would normally ignore such things have to keep reassuring people that it's all hokum, reports the LA Times.
"Two years ago, I got a question a week about it," says a NASA scientist who hosts a Q&A website. "Now I'm getting a dozen a day. Two teenagers said they didn't want to see the end of the world so they were thinking of ending their lives." A slew of books and pseudo-scientific websites—the latter sometimes created by people trying to sell the former—are feeding the fire, with many foretelling a collision with a rogue planet. For the record, it's named Nibiru, though it also goes by Planet X.