The Jefferson Iowa News®


  Our Science Editor Discusses the End of the World

We recently sat down with our science editor, Vince Hawking (an actual cousin of Stephen Hawking), and discussed several end-off-earth scenarios, notably the popular theory that, according to the Mayan calendar, the world will end on December 21, 2012.

At that time, we will have completed a 16,000 year cycle that normally corresponds with severe magnetic field changes. On that date, all of our planets will line up with the direct black hole at the center of the Milky Way, possibly causing the earth's magnetic field to shift abruptly, creating a massive loss of life.

RB - So what is all the scare about surrounding 2012?
VH - Lots of bad things happening. Nothing good.

RB - What do you recommend we do?
VH - Just brace yourself and enjoy the view for a couple of seconds.

RB - Will that help?
VH - Short answer ... no   Long answer ... no.

RB - So you definitely think the earth will end in 2012?
VH - 2012? Sweet Jesus! I guess it's possible. Between you and me, I think at best there is a one in seven chance of making it that far.

RB - Earlier this year, you and several other leading scientists published a paper entitled "We Are All Going to Die". This document is over 1200 pages in length. Can you summarize?
VH - Oh my God, don't remind me of that.

RB - Do you recommend people read this document?
VH - Not if they want to sleep at night. I can't get past page twelve, and I wrote it.

RB - What exactly are your fears?
VH - Let me just say that if more people owned telescopes, there would be a lot less people sleeping at night. Have you seen all that stuff coming toward us? NASA recently stated that they would like a 48 - hour notice before learning of any incoming  asteroids or projectiles. I think shooting for a 48 - second warning is more feasible.

RB - If you were asked to pinpoint the date for the end of the world as we know it, what would you guess?
VH - I envision one of several possible scenarios. Maybe a giant flaming meteor, incoming asteroid, or, more likely, an invasion by giant ant-looking alien kill-bots from planet XZ-77655531-XKIIY000005, also known as planet "X".

RB - When would this occur?
VH - My nearest calculations would place the end sometime in 2008, or possibly early 2009. Don't get me wrong. We here at the science center are all pulling for 2012.

RB - That sounds like a very negative outlook. What are we to do?
VH - Tie yourself to a tree. Maybe you will end up by a beach. Charge up your digital camera. You could get some great shots.

RB - Our readers will look towards you for the final word on this topic. What will you say?
VH - Smoke 'em if you've got 'em.

Rick Bland, contributor since 2007

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