A NASA scientist has sought to dispel hysterical rumors that claim an imaginary traveling planet known as Nibiru will destroy the Earth in 2012.
"You have to be pretty dumb not to realize that Nibiru is a no-show," said David Morrison of NASA, who was quoted by the Washington Post.
Morrison explained that a speculative 2012 doomsday scenario represented little more than a "convergence" of New Age mysticism and Hollywood opportunism.
Indeed, author Zecharia Sitchin has penned a series of books describing an enigmatic planet known as Nibiru, which was apparently visible to no one else but the ancient Sumerians. Sitchin hypothesizes that a previous collision between the mysterious Nibiru and another, unnamed planet created both Earth and the asteroid belt.
The year 2012 has also been tagged as "Doomsday" by amateur followers of the Mayan "long count" calendar who claim that the completion of a time cycle known as Baktun 13 heralds the end of the world as we know it. However, Mayans believe that the Baktun 14 cycle will begin immediately after the conclusion of Baktun 13.
Although Earth is unlikely to meet an untimely demise in 2012, the planet does remain vulnerable to future interstellar collisions.
For example, an asteroid named Apophis is expected to pass near Earth in 2029, 2036 and 2068. Nevertheless, calculations indicate that Apophis will remain a safe distance - 18,000 miles - away from the planet.
But what if Apophis did collide with Earth?
"It would basically take out a small state," conceded Morrison.