As students return to school this fall, the media and web hype about Doomsday 2012 (the end of the world because a planet will hit us, something will align in the sky, the Earth's rotation or axis will change, or just because the ancient Maya said so) promises to reach a final, fevered pitch. Those of us in science and science education are preparing to respond to concerns from people (especially young people) who are genuinely worried or confused.
Two new resources are now available for educators, parents, youth group leaders, to address fears that world-wide disaster is coming on Dec. 21, 2012. Perhaps you can let your favorite teacher, school counselor, scout leader and other adult working with kids know about these.
I have put together (with lots of help) a guide to accessible written and audio-visual materials on this topic (most of them freely available on the Web). You can find it in the on-line publication "Astronomy Education Review" at:
(click on the "Download PDF" link under the author's name for the easiest way to see the entire article).
And a video recording of a panel I had the privilege of leading on "Doomsday 2012 and Cosmophobia" at this summer's meeting of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific has now been posted by NASA's Lunar Science Institute at:
"Cosmophobia" is NASA astronomer David Morrison's name for the unnecessary fear of celestial events and phenomena. When David and I were young, new discoveries in the sky were a source of awe and fascination. Now, we are observing more and more people asking, as new things are discovered, "Should I be afraid?" It's kind of sad, given that we live mostly in splendid cosmic isolation, and most things in the universe are really much too far away to hurt us.
Please help spread the word that students will still have to take exams and we all still have to pay taxes in 2013. · · Share