29 February 2012

Zealots eye New Jewish Temple in Jerusalem

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man stands in front of the Dome of the Rock during a visit by a group of religious Jews to the Al-Aqsa mosques compound under Israeli police protection in Jerusalem's Old City. (Ahmad Gharabli, AFP)
Jerusalem - "No singing. No dancing. No praying. No animals," reads the curiously-worded sign greeting visitors heading up the rickety wooden ramp to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City.
For the non-Jewish visitor, it takes a few moments for the significance of the words to sink in.

But for Jews, who revere the site as the former location of the First and Second Temples, it is a bitter reminder of a harsh reality - they are not allowed to worship at Judaism's holiest site.

Known to Jews as the Temple Mount, the plaza is referred to by Muslims as Al-Haram Al-Sharif and considered the third holiest site in Islam.

Home to the Al-Aqsa mosque and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock, the plaza is one of the most sensitive places in the Middle East.

For many, the golden cupola of the Dome of the Rock which dominates the Jerusalem skyline, is a symbol of this Middle Eastern city.

Act of war

But for a growing number of Jewish zealots, the dream is to see a different skyline - one dominated by the outline of a Third Jewish Temple.

For the Palestinians and the Muslim world, such a move would be viewed as no less than an act of war, and one which could trigger unforeseeable consequences.

In September 2000, a controversial visit to the compound by Israel's then hawkish defence minister Ariel Sharon sparked the five-year second intifada.

And any Israeli attempt to build or to dig in the area around the Al-Aqsa compound tends to spark a furious reaction from the Palestinians, who frequently accuse the Jewish state of trying to undermine the sacred plaza.

Early on a bright winter morning, a handful of nondescript Israelis gather among the hordes of tourists waiting to be checked by police before going through the Mughrabi Gate, the only entrance which is open to non-Muslims.

"We are not here as tourists, but as Jews who are ascending to God's mountain," explains Assaf Fried, the group's burly leader.

Biblical history

For him, these weekly visits have one goal: To build the Third Temple.

"Coming up here is so important, because it promotes the construction. You can't build without ascending."

The Temple Mount is where the Bible says Solomon built the First Temple around 3 000 years ago to house the Ark of the Covenant.

In 586 BC, the Babylonians destroyed the Temple and sent the Israelites into exile, but work on the Second Temple began several decades on and was finished in 516 BC.

Nearly 500 years later, the Temple was completely renovated and the plaza extended by the Roman ruler Herod, only to be sacked in 70 AD during the Roman siege of Jerusalem.

Today, few remnants still stand, the most well-known of which is the Western Wall, one of the plaza's supporting walls.

Under guard

The site remained empty until construction in the late 7th century of the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, which are still there to this day.

Following the 1948 war which accompanied Israel's establishment, the site fell into Jordanian hands, until 1967 when Israel occupied and later annexed east Jerusalem.

But despite declaring its sovereignty over the entire city, Israel left control of the compound in the hands of Jordan's Islamic Waqf, or trust - the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem in co-ordination with the Palestinians.

Walking around the plaza, Fried explains where key elements of the Temple once stood, the small group closely guarded by two armed policemen - and a Waqf minder who watches them carefully.

"Why don't you show us what the priestly blessing would have sounded like," prompts one of the group, in a carefully-staged suggestion.

Fried discreetly quickly murmurs the prayer, watched warily by the Waqf official, who chooses to ignore this routine violation of the rules.


Most religious Jews pray daily for the restoration of the Temple, but for the vast majority, going up to the site is forbidden due to ritual impurity.

"The discussion here is not political or diplomatic," says Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, head of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.

"Jewish law absolutely prohibits going to the Temple Mount, as long as we don't have the ability to cleanse ourselves from our impurity."

But for Fried and his ilk, the only way to ensure a restoration of the Biblical order of things, is for Jews to start going back to the site which for centuries served as the centre of Jewish sacrificial worship.

There are around 20 Jewish groups working to rebuild the Temple. One, the Temple Institute, is working on making all the sacred vessels and priestly garments which will be used in the Third Temple.

Made from gold, copper, silver, wood and precious stones, they have been meticulously crafted in line with the exact specifications laid out in the Bible.

Dangerous trend

The institute is also researching the structure of the Temple, and trying to put together a working architectural plan for its reconstruction.

For many Israelis, such activities are not taken seriously.

But the Palestinians see it as a dangerous trend.

"These are unacceptable actions that affect the feelings and sanctities of Muslims, and are construed on a dangerous empty logic," says Adnan al-Husseini, the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem.

"They are playing with fire," he said. "The Israeli government should prevent them from entering the Al-Aqsa compound.

"It is a group that operates with the knowledge of the Israeli government as part of the battle over the compound to change the status quo," he charged.

1 person killed

Though the weekly visits are grudgingly tolerated, they often spark tension.

Over the past week, police and stonethrowers clashed several times inside the compound, with one person killed, more than 30 people arrested and dozens injured by stones or teargas.

In three cases, the disturbances were sparked by the presence of religious Jews, or by right-wing extremists announcing plans to visit the flashpoint site.

"There are clear guidelines as to what is allowed and what is not," police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said.

"Police intervene in the case of any violation, and carry out patrols to ensure the safety and prevent friction."

Some of these modern-day zealots believe the Muslim shrines must first be torn down before the Temple can rise. Others say they subscribe to a "two-shrine solution".

Growing interest

"We have no interest in Al Aqsa, it is outside of the limits of the Temple Mount," explains Fried who says the Temple stood on the site where the Dome of the Rock now stands.

"We want the Temple where the Temple's place is, and Al-Aqsa can remain Al-Aqsa," he says.

"We're not here to provoke the Muslims, they don't interest us."

Religious groups claim the number of Jews going up to the Temple Mount is growing with a record number visiting the site last year.

But they don't provide figures. And they are far from sure when their ancient dream will be transformed into a reality.

"It will take a few more years," shrugs Fried.

"We're not working with stop-watches. But with God's help, I hope it will happen in this generation, in our time."

Expose: The Vatican, the PLO Pact & Designs on Jerusalem

Designs on Jerusalem are on the Vatican’s agenda, now that the city is in Jewish hands.
Hall of the Last Supper
Several days ago, Israel gave up to the Vatican some sovereignty over the “Hall of the Last Supper” on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, the complex of buildings where David, Solomon, and Jewish kings of Judea, are said to be buried, although that is contested.
Vatican officials then met with representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Ramallah. The talks were co-chaired by Mgr. Ettore Balestrero, the Holy See’s Under-Secretary for Relations with States, and by Palestinian minister, Ziad Al-Bandak.
The basis for the new Vatican-PLO agreement is a memorandum signed by Palestinian and Vatican officials in 2000 and which repeated the Vatican’s call for an international mandate to preserve “the proper identity and sacred character” of Jerusalem. The Catholic Church wants Israel relinquishing sovereignty at the Western Wall and the Temple Mount.
This is the “Holy Basin” formula, which refers to the area of the “Nobel Sanctuary”, the Mount of Olives, Mount Zion and a variety of Christian holy sites which the administration of former U.S. President Bill Clinton already began reccomending be administered under a “special regime”.
The Obama plan also calls for designating the Old City of Jerusalem as an “international zone”.
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Vatican’s Council for Interreligious Dialogue, recently asked to place holy places under Vatican authority or “international custody” saying:“The Holy See has always accepted which was set by Resolution 181 on 29 November 1947 – which declared that Jerusalem must be the object of special regime under the auspices of the international community”.
In 1964, when Pope Paul VI made the first papal visit to Jerusalem, the city was divided by barbed-wire and snipers crouched on the roofs. Jews and Christians with Israeli passports were barred from entering the Old City, in violation of Article 8 of the 1949 Armistice Agreement.
At that time, the Vatican ambassador’s residence, at the foot of the Mount of Olives, provided a close look at the razing of over 40,000 Jewish graves in Judaism’s oldest cemetery and where, according to tradition, the resurrection of the dead on the Day of Judgment will happen.
The Vatican never raised its voice to protest against the apartheid imposed by the Jordanians. Israeli leaders asked the Vatican to use its “good offices” to intervene in order to stop the desecration, but during this dark period, the rape of Jewish Jerusalem did not lead to any expression of concern from Vatican diplomats.
The Catholic Church, which has now discovered “rights” in Jerusalem, was totally silent from 1948-1967, when its representatives witnessed the systematic pillaging of the Jewish synagogues.
Once Israel reunited the city, followers of all three monotheistic faiths have been able to worship without restrictions, with the only apartheid the restrictions imposed on Jews on Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount, which though under Israeli sovereignty, is controlled by the Moslem Wakf.
Would a Palestinian flag over Temple Mount in the heart of ancient Jerusalem promote tolerance, or would it have the opposite effect?
If this area came under the control of the Palestinian “security” forces or  was put in international custody, how long would it take before the Jews praying there would be pelted with rocks and garbage as occurred in October 1990?
No Israeli government must tolerate any policy of division, “shared control” or “internationalization” that opens the door to a return to the Arab apartheid of Jordanian occupation between 1948 and 1967. The Vatican never raised a cry for internationalization during that time.
The pact between the Vatican and the Palestinians includes a condemnation of “unilateral decisions and actions altering the specific character and status of Jerusalem”. Yet the most blatant unilateral act in recent years has been the illegalconstruction project on the Temple Mount conducted by the Wakf, the Islamic religious trust.
Instead of making blatantly political agreements with the Arabs, Catholic leaders should cooperate with the Jews and recognize that the only way to guarantee religious freedom is by maintaining the unity of Jerusalem under Israeli sovreignity.
There is a deep reason for Vatican opposition to Israel’s possessing the Old City. The Roman Catholic Church believes Israel’s right to be the Kingdom of God ended forever with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Roman Legion in 70 CE. Israel’s rebirth challenged Catholicism’s “Kingdom of God” when Jerusalem “the eternal” became the capital of Israel in 1967.
The world must ensure that Har Habayit, the Temple Mount, where humanity received the gift of one God, King David raised a sanctuary for the Ark of the Covenant and King Solomon and Herod built the Temples, does not fall into the hands of genocidaires and looters.

NASA and 2012 'Doomsday' - Ask an Astrobiologist

Nibiru and Doomsday 2012: Questions and Answers

Stories about the fictional planet Nibiru and predictions of doomsday in December 2012 have blossomed on the Internet. There are more than 300 books listed on Amazon.com dealing with the 2012 doomsday. “Ask an Astrobiologist” has received thousands of questions about Nibiru and 2012, with more than 500 answers posted. Following is a list of the most popular “Twenty Questions” organized in a logical succession and answered in some detail.
In addition to my responses, here are some other good resources

1. What is the origin of the prediction that the world will end in December 2012?

The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. Zecharia Sitchin, who wrote fiction about the ancient Mesopotamian civilization of Sumer, claimed in several books (e.g., “The Twelfth Planet”, published in 1976) that he had found and translated Sumerian documents that identify the planet Nibiru, orbiting the Sun every 3600 years. These Sumerian fables include stories of “ancient astronauts” visiting Earth from a civilization of aliens called the Anunnakihttp://www.sitchiniswrong.com/. Sitchin suggested a return of Nibiru and the Anunnaki sometime this century. Then Nancy Lieder, a self-declared psychic who claims she is channeling aliens, wrote on her website Zetatalk that the inhabitants of a fictional planet around the star Zeta Reticuli warned her that the Earth was in danger from Planet X or Nibiruhttp://www.badastronomy.com/bad/misc/planetx/. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012. Then these two fables were linked to the end of the Mayan calendar long-count at the winter solstice in 2012 – hence the predicted doomsday date on December 21, 2012.

2. The Sumerians were the first great civilization, and they made many accurate astronomical predictions, including the existence of the planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. So why should we not believe their predictions about Nibiru?

Nibiru is a name in Babylonian astrology sometimes associated with the god Marduk. Nibiru appears as a minor character in the Babylonian creation poem Enuma Elish as recorded in the library of Assurbanipal, King of Assyria (668-627 BCE). Sumer flourished much earlier, from about the 23rd century to the 17th century BCE. The claims that Nibiru is a planet and was known to the Sumerians are contradicted by scholars who (unlike Zecharia Sitchin) actually study and translate the written records of ancient Mesopotamia. Sumer was indeed a great civilization, important for the development of agriculture, water management, urban life, and especially writing. However, they left very few records dealing with astronomy. Certainly they did not know about the existence of Uranus, Neptune or Pluto. They also had no understanding that the planets orbited the Sun, an idea that first developed in ancient Greece two millennia after the end of Sumer. Claims that Sumerians had a sophisticated astronomy, or that they had a planet named Nibiru, are the product of Sitchin’s imagination.

3. How can you deny the existence of Nibiru when discovered it in 1983 and the story appeared in leading newspapers? At that time you called it Planet X, and later it was named Xena or Eris.

IRAS (the NASA Infrared Astronomy Satellite, which carried out a sky survey for 10 months in 1983) discovered many infrared sources, but none of them was Nibiru or Planet X or any other objects in the outer solar systemspider.ipac.caltech.edu/staff/tchester/iras/no_tenth_planet_yet.html. Briefly,IRAS cataloged 350,000 infrared sources, and initially many of these sources were unidentified (which was the point, of course, of making such a survey). All of these observations have been followed up by subsequent studies with more powerful instruments both on the ground and in space. The rumor about a “tenth planet” erupted in 1984 after a scientific paper was published in Astrophysical Journal Letters titled “Unidentified point sources in the IRAS minisurvey”, which discussed several infrared sources with “no counterparts”. But these “mystery objects” were subsequently found to be distant galaxies (except one, which was a wisp of “infrared cirrus”), as published in 1987. No IRAS source has ever turned out to be a planet. A good discussion of this whole issue is to be found on Phil Plait’s websitewww.badastronomy.com/bad/misc/planetx/science.html#iras. The bottom line is that NASA astronomers never discovered or announced a planet. To an astronomer, persistent claims about a planet that is “nearby” but “invisible” are just plain silly.

4. Maybe we should be asking about Planet X or Eris, not Nibiru. And what about the giant planet Tyche?

“Planet X” is an oxymoron when applied to a real object. The term has been used by astronomers over the past century for a possible or suspected object. Once the object is found, it is given a real name, as was done with Pluto and Eris, both of which were at some time referred to as Planet X. If a new object turns out to be not real, or not a planet, then you won’t hear about it again. If it is real, it is not called Planet X. Eris is one of several dwarf planets in the outer solar system, found by astronomers using conventional ground-based telescopes. All of the dwarf planets are on orbits that will never bring them near Earth. Like Pluto, Eris is smaller than our Moon. It is very far away, and its orbit never brings it within 4 billion miles. Tyche, in contrast, is supposed to be a giant planet (with several times the mass of Jupiter) in the far outer solar system http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyche_). It was suggested in 1999 from an analysis of the orbits of comets. It has never been seen or detected, and most astronomers do not believe it exists. It if were real, even at a very great distance from the Sun, it should have been picked up in recent infrared sky surveys such as WISE http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wide-field_Infrared_Survey_Explorer. Even if such an object exists, it can have no effect on the planets or their orbits.

5. Do you deny that built a South Pole Telescope to track Nibiru? Why else would they build a telescope at the South Pole? And wasn’t built as part of a defense against Nibiru?

There is a telescope at the South Pole, but it was not built by NASA and is not used to study Nibiru. The South Pole Telescope was supported by the National Science Foundation, and it is a radio telescope, not an optical instrument. It cannot take images or photos. You can look it up on Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Pole_Telescope. The Antarctic is a great place for astronomical infrared and short-wave-radio observations, and it also has the advantage that objects can be observed continuously without the interference of the day-night cycle. I should add that it is impossible to imagine a geometry in which an object can be seen only from the South Pole. Even if it were due south of the Earth, it could be seen from the entire southern hemisphere. As to HAARP, that is a favorite subject on conspiracy theory websites. HAARP is an upper atmosphere research instrument operated by the University of Alaska and primarily funded by the U.S. Defense Departmenthttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Frequency_Active_Auroral_Research_Program. The woo-woo crowd seems to think it was built to cause earthquakes. It has nothing to do with Nibiru or 2012.

6. There are many photos and videos of Nibiru on the Internet. Isn’t that proof that it exists?

Many of the photos and videos on the Internet that were taken two or three years ago were of some feature near the Sun (apparently supporting the claim that Nibiru was hiding behind the Sun). These are actually false images of the Sun caused by internal reflections in the lens, often called lens flare. You can identify them easily by the fact that they appear diametrically opposite the real solar image, as if reflected across the center of the image. This is especially obvious in videos, where as the camera moves, the false image dances about always exactly opposite the real image. Similar lens flare is a source of manyUFO photos taken at night with strong light sources such as streetlights in the frame. I am surprised that people don’t recognize this common photo artifact. There are also photos showing something nearly as large and bright as the Sun (a “second sun”). This is a crazy idea; if there were a second sun every one could see it (and we would be getting very hot!). It amazes me that people will go on at great length about a second sun without stepping outside and looking for themselves. If you can’t see it yourself with your own eyes, it doesn’t exist!
One widely reported telescopic photo www.greatdreams.com/nibiru-possible.jpgshows two views of an expanding gas cloud far beyond the solar system, which is not moving; you can see this from the fact that the stars are the same in both pictures. A sharp-eyed reader of this website identified these photos as a light shell around the star V838 Mon. Wikipedia has a nice write-up and a beautiful photo of it from Hubble http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V838_Monocerotis. Another high school student was initially impressed by posted images of a red blob that were said to be of Nibiru, until he found that he could easily duplicate the photo using Photoshop. Other people see the bright planets Venus and Jupiter in the sky and think they are Nibiru. Do they think they have discovered something new that no one else is seeing? There are more than 100,000 amateur astronomers from all over the world. They are constantly watching the sky, and not one of them has reported seeing Nibiru or any other rogue object.

7. Can you explain the fact that the area at (5h 53m 27s, -6 10’ 58”) has been blackened out in Google Sky and Microsoft Telescope? People suggest that these have been blackened out because those are the co-ordinates where Nibiru is located at present.

Several people have asked me about this blank rectangle in Orion in Google Sky, or another similar blank in Virgo http://www.2012hoax.org/google-sky. Google Sky and other Internet maps are compilations of astronomical photos of the sky. Many of them are photos taken more than 50 years ago in the Palomar Sky Survey; others are more recent from the Sloan Digital Survey. The problem is that many people think Google sky is a live view of the sky today. They write to me about searching Google Sky for Nibiru or other rogue objects, but even if these were real they would not be visible in these old data. The entire premise that Google Sky can be used to find images of Nibiru, or that blanks indicate that the authorities are hiding important images of Nibiru, is wrong.

8. If the government knew about Nibiru, wouldn’t they keep it a secret to avoid panic? Isn’t it the government’s job to keep the population at ease?

There are many objectives of government, but they do not include keeping the population at ease. My experience is that sometimes parts of the government do just the opposite, as in the frequent references to various terrorist threats or warnings about driving accidents on long holiday weekends, which are no more dangerous than any other time. There is a long history of associating bad things with political opponents (older readers will remember the “missile gap” in the 1960 election, younger ones will note the many current references to who is or is not keeping the U.S. safe from terrorists). Further, social scientists have pointed out that many of our concepts of public panic are the product of Hollywood, while in the real world people have a good record of helping each other in a time of danger. I think everyone also recognizes that keeping bad news secret usually backfires, making the issue even worse when the facts finally come out. In the case of Nibiru, these facts would have come out years ago, if it were real.
If Nibiru were real, it would be tracked by thousands of astronomers, amateurs as well a professional. These astronomers are spread all over the world. I know the astronomy community, and these scientists would not keep a secret even if ordered to. It is also worth remembering that most astronomers in the U.S. work for universities, and that academic organizations, not the government, run most of the big telescopes. Even the Hubble Space Telescope is operated by a consortium of universities. NASA and the government get most of their information from these outside astronomers, not the other way around.

9. Why does the Mayan calendar say the world will end in 2012? I have heard that they have been pretty accurate in the past with other planetary predictions. How can you be sure you know more than they did?

Calendars exist for keeping track of the passage of time, not for predicting the future. The Mayan astronomers were clever, and they developed a very complex calendar. Ancient calendars are interesting to historians, but they cannot match the ability we have today to keep track of time, or the precision of the calendars currently in use. The main point, however, is that calendars, whether contemporary or ancient, cannot predict the future of our planet or warn of things to happen on a specific date such as 2012. To further complicate matters, scholars do not agree on when the Mayan calendar long-count turns over. There is no agreed-upon synchronization between the Mayan calendar and ours, which was imported much later from Europe. This supposedly key date in the Mayan calendar may have already happened, or it may lie decades in the future.

10. What is the polar shift theory? Is it true that the Earth’s crust does a 180-degree rotation around the core in a matter of days if not hours? Does this have something to do to do with our solar system dipping beneath the galactic equator?

A reversal in the rotation of Earth is impossible. It has never happened and never will. There are slow movements of the continents (for example Antarctica was near the equator hundreds of millions of years ago), but that is irrelevant to claims of reversal of the rotational poles. However, many of the disaster websites pull a bait-and-shift to fool people. They claim a relationship between the rotation and the magnetic polarity of Earth, which does change irregularly with a magnetic reversal taking place every 400,000 years on average. As far as we know, such a magnetic reversal doesn’t cause any harm to life on Earth. A magnetic reversal is unlikely to happen in the next few millennia, anyway. But they falsely claim that a magnetic reversal is coming in 2012 and that this is the same as, or will trigger, a reversal of rotational poles. The bottom line is: (a) Rotation direction and magnetic polarity are not related. (b) There is no reason to expect a reversal of magnetic polarity any time soon, or to anticipate any bad effects on life when it does eventually happen. © A sudden shift in rotational pole with disastrous consequences is impossible. Also, none of this has anything to do with the galactic equator or any of the other nonsense about alignments that appears on many of the conspiracy theory websites.

11. When most of the planets align in 2012 and planet Earth is in the center of the Milky Way, what will the effects of this be on planet Earth? Could it cause a pole shift, and if so what could we expect?

There is no planet alignment in 2012 or any other time in the next several years. In fact, in late 2012 the planets are scattered all over the sky! As to the Earth being in the center of the Milky Way, I don’t know what this phrase means. If you are referring to the Milky Way Galaxy, we are rather far toward the edge of this spiral galaxy, some 30,000 light years from the center. We circle the galactic center in a period of 225-250 million years, always keeping approximately the same distance. Concerning a pole shift, I also don’t know what this means. If it means some sudden change in the position of the rotation axis of the Earth, then that is impossible, as noted in the answer to Question 10. What many websites do discuss is the alignment of the Earth and Sun with the center of the Milky Way in the constellation of Sagittarius. This happens every December, with no bad consequences, and there is no reason to expect 2012 to be different from any other year.

12. When the Sun and the Earth line up on the galactic plane at the same time with the black hole being in the center couldn’t that cause something to happen, due to the fact that the black hole has such a strong gravitational pull.

There is a giant black hole in the center of our Milky Way galaxy, and like any concentration of mass it exerts gravitational force on the rest of the Galaxy. However, the galactic center is very far away, approximately 30,000 light years, so it has negligible effects on the solar system or the Earth. There are no special forces from the galactic plane or the galactic center. The only important force that acts on the Earth is the gravitation of the Sun and Moon. As far as the influence of the galactic plane, there is nothing special about this location. The last time the Earth was in the galactic plane was several million years ago. Claims that we are about to cross the galactic plane are untrue.
There is a widespread misunderstanding about the gravitational influence of another object on the Earth or other planets, whether it is a distant black hole or a nearby rogue planet. One sees claims often that some object, like Nibiru or Comet Elenin, will cause a pole shift or trigger earthquakes, but that is not the way it works. The only effect of an external gravitational pull is to change the orbits of planets. If there were a massive intruder like Nibiru, it would be altering the orbits of the Earth and other planets, something astronomers would measure immediately. What it won’t do is shift the rotational pole or cause earthquakes or other geological events.

13. I have heard that the Earth’s magnetic field will flip in 2012 just when the strongest level of solar storms in history is predicted to take place. Will this kill us or destroy our civilization?

Near solar maximum (which happens every 11 years approximately), there are many more sunspots, solar flares and coronal mass ejections than near solar minimum. Flares and mass ejections are no danger for humans or other life on Earth. They could endanger astronauts in deep space or on the Moon, and this is something that NASA must learn to deal with, but it is not a problem for you or me. Large outbursts can interrupt radio transmission, cause bright displays of the aurora (Northern and Southern Lights), and damage the electronics of some satellites in space. Today many satellites are designed to protect against this possibility, for example by switching off some of their more delicate circuits and going into a “safe” mode for a few hours. In extreme cases solar activity can also disrupt electrical transmissions on the ground, possibly leading to electrical blackouts, but this is rare.
The last solar maximum occurred in 2001, but the subsequent solar minimum was unusual, with a period of a couple of years with almost no sunspots or other solar activity. Scientists now guess that the next maximum will in 2013 not 2012. However, the details of the solar cycle remain basically unpredictable.
You are correct that the Earth’s magnetic field protects us by creating a large region in space, called the Earth’s magnetosphere, within which most of the material ejected from the Sun is captured or deflected, but there is no reason to expect a reversal of magnetic polarity any time soon. These magnetic reversals happen only once in 400,000 years on average.

14. I am confused about a report on the Fox News website that in 2012 a “Powerful Solar Storm Could Shut Down U.S. for Months”. They referred to a report from the National Academy of Sciences. If nothing is going to happen as a result of the event in 2012, why would allow such nonsense to be reported?

NASA requested this study of heliophysics by the National Research Council. It had nothing to do with 2012. As you note, this report includes a worst-case analysis of what could happen if there were a repetition of the biggest solar storm ever recorded (in 1859). The problem is the way such information can be used out of context. There is no reason to expect such a large solar storm in the near future, certainly not in 2012 specifically. Your reference to “the event in 2012” illustrates this problem. There is no prediction of an “event in 2012”. We don’t even expect the next solar maximum will take place in that year. The whole 2012 disaster scenario is a hoax, partly fueled by the Hollywood science-fiction disaster film “2012”, in which the Earth is nearly destroyed as the result of some sort of undefined solar outburst. I hope that most people are able to distinguish Hollywood film plots from reality. And as a matter of interest, the film “2012” was conceived and written without any reference to the 2012 date. The name was added later to take advantage of growing public concern about this year.

15. All my school friends are telling me that we are all going to die in the year 2012 due to a meteor hitting earth. Is this true?

Your friends are wrong. The Earth has always been subject to impacts by comets and asteroids, although big hits are very rare. The last big impact was 65 million years ago, and that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. TodayNASA astronomers are carrying out a survey called the Spaceguard Survey to find any large near-Earth asteroids long before they hit. We have already determined that there are no threatening asteroids as large as the one that killed the dinosaurs. All this work is done openly with the discoveries posted every day on the NASA NEO Program Office website http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov, so you can see for yourself that nothing is predicted to hit in 2012.

16. There are many reports of shifts in the Earth’s axis (pole shifts). In 2010 several U.S. airports had to be realigned because the directions had shifted. The sun appeared two days early in Greenland this year, and many people say the positions of sunrise and sunset are different from any time it the paste. Fox news recently reported that a pole shift was to blame for the geese flying east. Are these warnings of coming disaster in 2012?

When people make claims about pole shifts, you need to ask if they are talking about the rotational pole or the magnetic pole. The directions North and South (and also East and West) are defined by the rotation of the Earth. The North Pole on Earth is the projection of the axis around which the Earth rotates, and east is defined as the direction toward which the earth rotates. All this was known before Earth’s magnetic field was discovered or magnetic compasses were invented. The magnetic poles are not in the same place as the rotational poles, and they move around on the surface. A compass therefore does not point to true north. This drifting of the magnetic poles required the renaming (not the reorientation) of several runways at small airports that still use magnetic headings. If the magnetic poles moved a large amount, or even if the magnetic field reversed, we would have to recalibrate the directions on our magnetic compasses, but everything else would stay the same. GPS systems would not be affected. The Sun would still rise in the same place in the East.
The other stories deal with the rotation axis, which is very stable. The supposed early sunrise in Greenland and many other claims that the Sun is rising or setting in different locations are rampant on the Internet. Think about it. If there were any shift in the Earth’s rotational axis, it would be instantly detected. All the computer drives on telescopes around the world, and all of our GPSsystems, depend on a stable rotation of the Earth. If it slipped even a tiny amount, telescopes wouldn’t be able to point, planes would be crashing because of incorrect GPS readings, and it would be the biggest news story of the century. These claims on obscure Internet sites are obviously wrong.

17. Comet Elenin was widely believed to be a threat when it passed by in September-October 2011. Some people on the Internet said it was on the same orbit as Nibiru, or that Nibiru was moving with it or hidden behind it. What happened to Comet Elenin?

Comet Elenin attracted a great deal of attention from pseudo-scientists and conspiracy theorists. Discovered in December 2010, it was a small long-period comet, less than 4 km in diameter, that fell apart when it got close to the Sun. Yet during the months leading up to perihelion, the attention of many of the true believers in doomsday 2012 shifted their attention to this little comet, claiming that it endangered the Earth. The first crazy rumor was that it was not really discovered by Russian astronomer Leonid Elenin. but that the name Elenin stood for ELE=Extinction Level Event and NIN=Nibiru Is Near. Then websites announced that it triggered the giant Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March, and therefore it must be extremely massive – perhaps not a comet at all but something like a brown dwarf. Of course, scientists knew Elenin was a comet and not a massive object like a brown dwarf. First, Elenin fits the definition of a comet: It was a solar system object with an elongated (eccentric) orbit that was outgassing a tenuous atmosphere (coma) and tail as it approached the Sun. Comets are defined operationally by the presence of the visible coma and tail. Second, Elenin could not possibly be a massive object like a brown dwarf. If it were, it would not have a coma or tail, since the gas cannot escape from an object with substantial gravity. In addition, if it were massive we would by then have experienced its gravitational influence on the orbits of the planets, especially Mars and Earth (See Question 12). Finally, if it were a brown dwarf it would have been easily detected in various previous astronomical surveys, even when it was still in the far outer solar system.
During the summer of 2011, Elenin remained faint, and conspiracy websites accused NASA of a cover-up (not knowing, apparently, that it is the amateur astronomy community, not NASA, who photograph faint comets and measure their positions). Meanwhile, it was widely predicted on the Internet that Elenin would do terrible damage to the Earth when it came close in late September. (The fact is that it never came closer than a hundred times the distance to the Moon.) The usual claims were made about triggering pole shifts and huge earthquakes, this time predicted for September 26. In addition, it was claimed on many Internet sites that the comet was so large that it would block out the Sun for the three days of September 26, 27, and 28, 2011. They also said that the U.S. Military would be on full alert and that all the U.S. government leaders would be taking shelter in the (fictional) bunkers under the Denver airport. In fact, Elenin was so small that it had begun to break apart by mid-September, as it neared the Sun, and of course nothing happened on September 26-27-28. Some conspiracy sites continued to claim that the comet was accompanied by a giant invisible object and that these disasters could happen any day. Others said the comet never existed but was a false rumor spread by the government to distract attention from Nibiru. This may be a preview of what we can expect in December 2012, when many conspiracy nuts will likely continue to claim that Nibiru will destroy the Earth right up to (or beyond) December 21.

18. If Nibiru is not real, then why are all these terrible things happening in 2012? There must be some explanation for the earthquakes, floods, storms, solar outbursts, and rising temperatures our planet is experiencing.

Over the four years that I have been answering questions on this topic, each of the predicted 2012 disasters has been shown to be wrong. Nibiru (or any other rogue planet) obviously does not exist, since if it were real we could see it and feel the effects of its gravity. You could not hide it from the more than 10,000 professional and 100,000 amateur astronomers. And there will be no planet alignment in 2012 — that is a plain lie. The Earth’s magnetic flied is not headed for a reversal, while large shifts in the rotational pole are impossible. Solar activity is below normal, and the next solar maximum will not happen until 2013. Although we had one exceptionally large earthquake in Japan this year, overall there has been no increase in earthquakes worldwide. It is interesting how many people who write to me don’t seem to realize that astronomers and space scientists and geologists are constantly monitoring and recording what happens to the Earth, and any deviation would be immediately detected. The one real change is global warming, as is well documented by science. That helps explain the increase in storms and floods. And we know the cause, which is the rising concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. All we are left with for 2012 is a vague concern about the roll-over in the Mayan calendar, and scholars can’t even agree on what year that happens. Doomsday is not real, but people’s fear promoted by countless websites and YouTube videos is unfortunately very real, and especially harmful for children.

19. Can you prove to me that Nibiru is a hoax? There are so many reports that something terrible will happen in 2012. I need proof because the government and are keeping so much from us.

Yes I can prove it. Remember what Nibiru is said to be: a planet as large as the Earth on an eccentric 3600-year orbit around the Sun that threatens to collide or come close to the Earth in December 2012. If it existed, it would by now (early 2012) be visible to everyone in the night sky. Obviously it is not there. You can’t hide a planet that is due here in less than a year. Further, a real planet would have sufficient mass to perturb the orbits of Mars and the Earth. Some people talk about an external object changing the tilt of the Earth’s axis or triggering earthquakes, which is silly, but its gravity would be distorting planetary orbits if it were real. One way we would know this is from the daily communication links between the Earth and several spacecraft orbiting Mars and operating on its surface. The radio signals measure the precise distance and relative speed between the two planets, and any deviation would be immediately recognized. Finally, we also know that no planet has been regularly passing thorough the inner solar system. It there had been such interlopers, the Moon would have been stripped from the Earth and the orbits of the inner planets would have high eccentricity and inclination. Not only does Nibiru not exist now, we can be sure that no rogue planets have been entering the inner solar system over the past million years.
You don’t need to take my word for it. Just use common sense. Have you seen Nibiru? In 2008 many websites said it would be visible to the naked eye in spring 2009. If a large planet or brown dwarf were headed for the inner solar system in 2012, it would already be tracked by hundreds of thousands of astronomers, professional and amateur, all over the world. Do you know any amateur astronomers who are watching it? Have you seen any photos or discussion of it in the big popular astronomy magazines like Sky & Telescope? Just think about it. No one could hide Nibiru if it existed.

20. If Nibiru is a hoax, why doesn’t issue a denial? How can you permit these lies to circulate and frighten people? Why doesn’t the U.S. government do something about it!

If you go to the NASA home page, nasa.gov, you will see many stories that expose the Nibiru-2012 hoax. Try searching nasa.gov under “Nibiru” or “2012”. There is not much more that NASA can do. These hoaxes have nothing to do with NASA and are not based on NASA data, so we as an agency are not directly involved. But scientists, both within NASA and outside, recognize that this hoax with its effort to frighten people is a distraction from more important science concerns, such as global warming and loss of biological diversity. We worry about the effect of this fear on impressionable children. But we live in a country where there is freedom of speech, and that includes freedom to lie. You should be glad there are no censors. But if you will just use common sense I am sure you can recognize the lies. You can find a good summary of the scientific position on 2012 doomsday at http://2012hoax.org.

28 February 2012

Bogus History? More “Jesus Family Tomb” Hype and Another Earth Shattering "New Discovery"

'Divine Jehovah, raise up': Does discovery of coffin lid prove the resting place of Jesus is under Jerusalem tower block? 

  • Inscription on 1st Century tomb lid translates from ancient Greek as 'Divine Jehovah, raise up, raise up'
  • Adds weight to sensational theory that Jesus was buried with Mary Magdelene and had family with her
Archaeologists exploring a 1st century Christian burial chamber have discovered an ancient inscription on a coffin lid which they believe could prove the site is the final resting place of Jesus.

Using a remote-controlled camera connected to a robotic arm to probe below a tower block in Jerusalem, the archaeologists were staggered to discover a set of 1st century 'bone boxes'.

The lid on one of these limestone boxes, also known as ossuaries, carries an inscription in Greek which could be translated as 'Divine Jehovah, raise up, raise up'.

Discovery: A fish is carved upon the lid of the 1st century burial tomb which archaeologists believe proves they have located the resting place of Jesus
Discovery: A fish is carved upon the lid of the 1st century burial tomb which archaeologists believe proves they have located the resting place of Jesus

Development: The tower block built above the tombs after their discovery in the 1980s
Development: The tower block built above the tomb complex after its discovery in the 1980s
Another carries a drawing of a fish with a stick figure in its mouth which is believed to refer to the story of Jonah and the Whale - one of the very first Christian stories.

The find is 200ft away from an earlier discovery known as the Jesus Family Tomb, which caused a huge amount of controversy after it was uncovered in the 1980s.

Archaeologists then claimed it contained ossuaries inscribed with names associated with Jesus's family. 

That discovery sprouted amazing theories including one that maintained Jesus had been buried there alongside Mary Magdalene who he had married and raised a family with.
However many leading theologians and archaeologists rubbished such claims as being completely unfounded.
The Jesus Family Tomb was only examined briefly before protests by Orthodox Jews, concerned about the disturbance of a grave site, ended the excavation.

It was then sealed up, and a tower block built over it.

However James Tabor, a scriptural scholar at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and documentary filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici were determined to continue the research.

The pair obtained permission from the Israeli government in 2010 to use the robotic arm to drill holes allowing them to explore the surrounding area.

This led to the discovery of a separate chamber which they named the 'Patio Tomb', as it sits almost directly below the patio of the building.
    It was inside the Patio Tomb that they found the inscriptions.

    The pair claim the inscriptions discovered inside the patio tomb greatly increase the likelihood that the 'Jesus Family Tomb' is indeed, the resting place of Jesus.

    Lettering: The four line inscription in Greek has been translated as 'Divine Jehovah, raise up, raise up'
    Lettering: The four line inscription in Greek has been translated as 'Divine Jehovah, raise up, raise up'
    Magic moment: The team used a remote control camera attached to this robotic arm to probe into the burial chamber
    Magic moment: The team uses a remote control camera attached to this robotic arm to probe into the burial chamber

    They argue believe both tombs are part of the same complex which may have been the property of Joseph of Arimathea, who, according to the gospels, buried Jesus.

    One of the limestone ossuaries carries a Greek inscription calling on God to 'rise up' or 'raise up' someone. 

    Another shows the image of a fish with a stick figure in its mouth which Tabor has suggested could represent the prophet Jonah. 

    Mr Tabor said: 'This inscription has something to do with resurrection of the dead, either of the deceased in the ossuary, or perhaps, given the Jonah image nearby, an expression of faith in Jesus' resurrection.

    Belief: Dr James Tabor is certain the inscription has something to do with resurrection of the dead
    Belief: Dr James Tabor is certain the inscription has something to do with resurrection of the dead
    In the earliest gospel materials the 'sign of Jonah,' as mentioned by Jesus, has been interpreted as a symbol of his resurrection. 

    Jonah images in later 'early' Christian art, such as images found in the Roman catacombs, are the most common motif found on tombs as a symbol of Christian resurrection hope. 
    In contrast, the story of Jonah is not depicted in any first century Jewish art and iconographic images on ossuaries are extremely rare, given the prohibition within Judaism of making images of people or animals. 

    The tomb in question is dated prior to 70 CE, when ossuary use in Jerusalem ceased due to the Roman destruction of the city. 

    If the markings are Christian, the engravings represent the earliest archaeological record of Christians ever found. 
    So the engravings were most likely made by some of Jesus' earliest followers, within decades of his death, predating the writing of the gospels. 

    'If anyone had claimed to find either a statement about resurrection or a Jonah image in a Jewish tomb of this period I would have said impossible -- until now,' Tabor said. 'Our team was in a kind of ecstatic disbelief, but the evidence was clearly before our eyes, causing us to revise our prior assumptions.' 

    The publication of the academic article is concurrent with the publication of a book by Simon & Schuster entitled 'The Jesus Discovery: The New Archaeological Find That Reveals the Birth of Christianity.' A documentary on the discovery will be aired by the Discovery Channel in spring 2012. 

    The findings and their interpretation are likely to be controversial, since most scholars are skeptical of any Christian archaeological remains from so early a period. 

    Adding to the controversy is the tomb's close proximity to a second tomb, discovered in 1980. This tomb, dubbed by some 'The Jesus Family Tomb,' contained inscribed ossuaries that some scholars associate with Jesus and his family, including one that reads 'Jesus, son of Joseph.'

    Coffin: One of the bone boxes or ossuaries uncovered after the discovery of the nearby Jesus Tomb in the early 1980s
    Coffin: One of the bone boxes or ossuaries uncovered after the discovery of the nearby Jesus Tomb in the early 1980s
    Filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici examines a section of a nearby tomb in 2007
    Filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici examines a section of a nearby tomb in 2007

    'Context is everything in archaeology,' Tabor pointed out. 'These two tombs, less than 200 feet apart, were part of an ancient estate, likely related to a rich family of the time. 

    'We chose to investigate this tomb because of its proximity to the so-called 'Jesus tomb,' not knowing if it would yield anything unusual.'


    The bible tells how on the evening of the crucifixion, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pontius Pilate for Jesus' body.
    Mosaic Law states that a person hanged on a tree must not be allowed to remain there at night, but should be buried before sundown.
    Joseph wrapped Jesus' body in a linen cloth and laid it in a tomb.
    The book of John tells how Joseph was assisted in the burial process by Nicodemus, who brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes and included these spices in the burial cloth as per Jewish customs.
    Among the approximately 2000 ossuaries that have been recovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority, only 650 have any inscriptions on them, and none have inscriptions comparable to the team's finds. 

    Less than a dozen ossuaries from the period have epitaphs but, according to Tabor, these inscribed messages usually have to do with warnings not to disturb the bones of the dead. In contrast, the four-line Greek inscription contains some kind of statement of resurrection faith. 

    Tabor noted that the epitaph's complete and final translation is uncertain. The first three lines are clear, but the last line, consisting of three Greek letters, is less sure, yielding several possible translations: 'O Divine Jehovah, raise up, raise up,' or 'The Divine Jehovah raises up to the Holy Place,' or 'The Divine Jehovah raises up from.' 

    'This inscription has something to do with resurrection of the dead, either of the deceased in the ossuary, or perhaps, given the Jonah image nearby, an expression of faith in Jesus' resurrection,' Tabor said. 

    The ossuary with the image that Tabor and his team understand to be representing Jonah also has other interesting engravings. These also may be connected to resurrection, Tabor notes. On one side is the tail of a fish disappearing off the edge of the box, as if it is diving into the water. 

    There are small fish images around its border on the front facing, and on the other side is the image of a cross-like gate or entrance—which Tabor interprets as the notion of entering the 'bars' of death, which are mentioned in the Jonah story in the Bible. 

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2107591/Will-discovery-ancient-coffin-lead-resting-place-Jesus.html#ixzz1niyXZptu