Astronomers fear the dark side of apocalyptic rumors.
NASA scientists have been debunking pseudoscience and fantasy about the Mayan apocalypse partially because they worry frightened teens might commit suicide over the hoax.
“There are literally millions of people who are afraid — who think the world will end,” said David Morrison, an astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center.
One particularly pervasive rumor concerns a fictitious planet, which Sumerians supposedly discovered, called Nibiru. On its current orbit, the fictional planet is slated to crash into Earth on Dec. 21, this year’s winter solstice, according to the hoax.
Some people are so worried about the supposedly impending apocalypse that they cannot sleep or eat. Others have even started contemplating suicide as a way to avoid the chaos of end times, according to Morrison.
"While this is a joke to some people and a mystery to others, there is a core of people who are truly concerned," said Morrison.
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