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New Years 2000 Essay, Research Paper

The Y2K scare has gotten the entire world s attention with the radical headline that the world may come to an end. Although disputable, January 1st 2000 or January 1st 2001 is the deadline which electric appliances, computer databases, and many other necessities in our culture will cease to work. There is another date very little attention has been given, however. May 5th 2000 has been speculated for many centuries as an important date for mankind. It is the day five of the nine planets and the Earth s moon line up with the sun. May 5th 2000 has been prophesized, predicted, and analyzed, but the outcome is still unanswered.

Predictions of the demise of Earth have been dated as far back as the Old Testament and have been philosophized and studied by well-known theologians like Aristotle and Nostradames. The Mayan calendar even speculates a worldwide event on this day. Very intriguing from a culture that supposedly predicted its own downfall.

Christians refer to the book of Revelations for the foretelling of the Apocalypse and the seven seals, which tell how humanity will see its own destruction. Very detailed descriptions include famine, flooding, earthquakes, and celestial phenomenon. However, the turn of the millenium has many extremists worried that the world will end shortly and people are finding many predictions in everyday life. People have predicted enormous tidal waves, volcanoes, high winds, flooding on both sides of our continent, and many other end of the world scenarios. Perhaps the occurrence of these predictions is not just chance and the end of man is coming soon. Luckily science provides a comforting explanation to ease the public worry.

On May 5, 2000 there is an unusual alignment of the sun, moon, and the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn within the same area of the sky, roughly in a line, although actually spread over 26 degrees. Since the planets closest to the earth are lined up in a row with the sun and moon, this might cause increased gravitational stress on earth. Since in the second half of 1999 there have been increased numbers of earthquakes around the world, such as in Taiwan and Mexico in September 1999, Southern California in October 1999, it is quite possible there could be some major earthquakes worldwide in May 2000 from this increased gravitational stress on earth. It has been proposed that there could even be a polar shift, which is not unlikely. According to the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia the earth shifts poles roughly every 960 years. A polar shift would impact mankind, since much of today s navigation depend on the earth s magnetic force. It is also quite possible major worldwide earthquakes and volcanoes could occur. Japan and Southern California are due for major magnitude 8 earthquakes, for example. Also increased in 1999 is volcanic activity, so major volcanic eruptions could occur in May 2000, which could be enormous. The planets will start lining up in April 2000, so the increased earthquakes and volcanoes could start then, increasing in May.

The most quantitative scientific information Americans can contribute comes from the National Aeronautical and Space Administration, or NASA. Astronomers have been able to predict the rare phenomenon for quite a while and have very little to say about the effects. These are the effects according to an astrological analyst, Truman Collins.

I had heard rumors of a conjunction of the planets, also called The Grand Alignment, that is supposed to happen on May 5th of the year 2000, and that there would be disastrous consequences on Earth from the summed gravitational forces. Possible disasters included earthquakes, shifts in continental crust, and movement of the polar icecap causing tremendous tidal waves the world over. This sounded pretty unlikely, so I looked into it to see what was really going on. Here is what I discovered:

As far as having an affect on Earth, the absolute gravitational force from another body in space isn’t really important. It’s the tidal effect that makes a difference. What I discovered was that the tidal forces exerted on Earth from the five planets on the other side of the Sun are vastly smaller than those exerted by the Moon or the Sun. In fact, with the planets in the position they will be in on the big day, the largest tidal force from one of them will be from Jupiter, and it is about one five hundred thousandth the size of the tidal force exerted by the Moon on an average day!

So what could happen to the earth on Cinco de Mayo? The phenomenon of converging planets is not common, but does happen. According to John Mosley of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, the five planets and our moon lined up in 1962 during a solar eclipse. Mosley continues saying the effects on earth will be unnoticeable and the phenomenon itself will be mostly masked behind the sun. Could all the hype be doomsayers predicting another false Apocalypse? Has science overlooked something? We cannot know the outcome until May 5th, but you should not worry too much, Mayan calculations set the end of the world at December 22, 2012.

Works Cited

Chase, T. The May 5th Planetary Alignment. January 1 1999. http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/2360/polar.html

Collins, Truman. The May 5th Planetary Alignment. February 11, 1998. http://www.teleport.com/ tcollins/conjunct.shtml

Earth: Magnetic Poles Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia. 1997. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation.

Mosley, Griffith. Planetary Alignments in 2000. Griffith Observatory. January 1 1999. http://www.griffithobs.org/SkyAlignments.html

Reed, Frank E. Influence of the Planets. Clockwork Software Inc. Chicago. January 1 1999. http://www.clockwk.com/tides/index.html

The Mayan Calendar. June 9 1999. http://www.traveladdicts.connectfree.co.uk/Mexico/Mexico_calendar.htm

Williams, Dr. David R. The Planetary Alignment of May 5th 2000. National Space Science Data Center. October 25 1999. http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/alignment.html

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