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 this doomsday event usually refer to this object as Planet X (or Nibiru) The idea that a planet-sized object could collide with or pass by Earth in the near future is not supported by any scientific evidence and has been rejected as pseudoscience 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 extra-terrestrials 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 inner solar system in May 2003 (though that date was later abandoned) causing Earth to undergo a 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 link the event to the Mayan Calendar 2012 phenomenon. Although the name “Nibiru” is derived from the works of the late ancient astronaut writer Zecharia Sitchin and his interpretations of Babylonian and Sumerian mythology, Sitchin denied any connection between his work and various claims of a coming apocalypse.
The idea of the Nibiru encounter originated with Nancy Lieder, a Wisconsin woman who claims that as a girl she was contacted by gray extraterrestrials called Zetas, who implanted a communications device in her brain. In 1995, she founded the website ZetaTalk to disseminate her ideas. Lieder first came to public attention on Internet newsgroups during the build-up to Comet Hale-Bopp’s 1997 perihelion. She stated, speaking as the Zetas, that The Hale-Bopp comet does not exist. It is a fraud, perpetrated by those who would have the teeming masses quiescent until it is too late. Hale-Bopp is nothing more than a distant star, and will draw no closer. She claimed that the Hale-Bopp story was manufactured to distract people from the imminent arrival of a large planetary object, “Planet X“, which would soon pass by Earth and destroy civilization. After Hale-Bopp's perihelion revealed it as one of the brightest and longest-observed comets of the last century, Lieder removed the first two sentences of her initial statement from her site, though they can still be found in Google’s archives. Her claims eventually made the New York Times.
Lieder described Planet X as roughly four times the size of the Earth, and said that its closest approach would occur on May 27, 2003, resulting in the Earth's rotation ceasing for exactly 5.9 terrestrial days. This would be followed by the Earth's pole destabilizing in a pole shift (a physical pole shift, with the Earth's pole physically moving, rather than a geomagnetic reversal) caused by magnetic attraction between the Earth's core and the magnetism of the passing planet. This in turn would disrupt the Earth's magnetic core and lead to subsequent displacement of the Earth's crust. After Lieder, the first person to propagate her Planet X idea was Mark Hazlewood, a former member of the ZetaTalk community, who in 2001 published a book titled “Blindsided: Planet X Passes in 2003. Lieder would later accuse him of being a confidence trickster. A Japanese cult called the “Pana Wave Laboratory, which blocked off roads and rivers with white cloths to protect itself from electromagnetic attacks, also warned that the world would end in May 2003 after the approach of a tenth planet.
Roughly a week before the supposed arrival of Planet X, Lieder appeared on KROQ-FM radio in Los Angeles, and advised listeners to put their pets down in anticipation of the event. When asked if she had done so, she replied that she had, and that “The puppies are in a happy place.” She also advised that “A dog makes a good meal“. After the 2003 date passed without incident, Lieder said that it was merely a “White Lie ... to fool the establishment,” and said that to disclose the true date would give those in power enough time to declare martial law and trap people in cities during the shift, leading to their deaths.
Many Internet sites continue to proclaim that Lieder's object is en route to Earth, often citing its arrival date as December, 2012. This date has gathered many apocalyptic associations, as it is the end of the current cycle (baktun) in the long count in the Mayan calendar. Several writers have published books connecting the encounter with 2012.
Astronomers reject the idea of Nibiru, and have made efforts to inform the public that there is no threat to Earth in 2012. They point out that such an object so close to Earth would be easily visible to the naked eye, as Jupiter and Saturn are both visible to the naked eye, and are dimmer than Nibiru would be at their distances. 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. Amateur photographs supposedly showing Nibiru near the Sun are usually the result 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 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 Way galaxy into intergalactic space.
Still, there are many people who continue to believe that this mysterious “Planet X” is real, thus placing merit on the Mayan doomsday calendar predictions. (Which really isn’t a doomsday prediction, but more so, just simply the end to the calendar, thus creating a new beginning to another rotation of the Mayan calendar.) Pretty much like our calendar that goes from year to year.
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