2012 Doomsday Myths Debunked

The end of the world is near--December 21, 2012, to be exact--according to theories based on a purported ancient Maya prediction and fanned by the marketing machine behind the soon-to-be-released 2012 movie. (See "2012 Prophecies Sparking Real Fears, Suicide Warnings .")

In some 2012 doomsday prophecies, the Earth becomes a deathtrap as it undergoes a "pole shift," courtesy of an asteroid impact (illustrated above), a rare alignment with the center of the Milky Way, and/or massive solar radiation destabilizing the inner Earth by heating it.

The planet's crust and mantle will suddenly shift, spinning around Earth's liquid-iron outer core and sending cities crashing into the sea. (Interactive: pole shift theories illustrated.)

Princeton University geologist Adam Maloof has extensively studied pole shifts, and tackles this 2012 myth in 2012: Countdown to Armageddon, a National Geographic Channel documentary airing Sunday, November 8.

Maloof says magnetic evidence in rocks confirms that continents have undergone such drastic rearrangement, but the process took millions of years--slow enough that humanity wouldn't have felt the motion (quick guide to plate tectonics).

(The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News and part-owns the National Geographic Channel.)


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