It can feel like there’s somebody convinced that every day is the day the world will end, which is an excuse to catch a few good movies if nothing else. The latest end of the world will be April 23rd, supposedly, when the planet Nibiru, which doesn’t exist, will come to destroy us all either by colliding with the Earth or somehow triggering a nuclear endgame or… something.
So what the heck is Nibiru anyway, and why are people so convinced it’s real?
- Before you ask, no, Nibiru, the object, does not exist. The term comes from the Akkadian language, as a term for “crossing” or “intersection,” and it was used in Babylonian astronomy to refer to the equinox and the celestial bodies involved in it. It’s sometimes referred to as “Marduk’s star,” which is where the confusion comes in for people. Not helping matters is, well, here’s the most accurate translation we have of what Nibiru is:
Nibiru, which is said to have occupied the passageways of heaven and earth, because everyone above and below asks Nibiru if they cannot find the passage. Nibiru is Marduk’s star which the gods in heaven caused to be visible. Nibiru stands as a post at the turning point. The others say of Nibiru the post: “The one who crosses the middle of the sea (Tiamat) without calm, may his name be Nibiru, for he takes up the center of it.” The path of the stars of the sky should be kept unchanged.
- But since the evidence is so confusing, quite a few people are convinced Nibiru is a real object. This idea first got traction in 1995, courtesy of Nancy Lieder. Lieder, who founded the ZetaTalk website, a hub of conspiracy theories and fringe beliefs. Lieder has claimed she was abducted by aliens and has a brain implant that lets them speak to her directly, a claim that has not exactly made her popular with scientists. But people love to believe an asteroid is about to kill us all, since, hey, that makes you feel better about your student loans. Which is probably why Lieder’s been out there claiming this for nearly two decades, and also why other fringe conspiracy theorists, like ancient astronaut theorist Zecharia Sitchin, have jumped on board.
- Not helping matters is Nibiru has stubbornly refused to show up and kill us all. Lieder first claimed it was going to show up in 2003. It’s been supposed to show up at various times since, including 12/22/2012, which was supposed to be an apocalypse pileup thanks to the fact that Mayans didn’t make a calendar past 2012. (It’s not the Mayans’ job to schedule your life, Randy!)
- Still, Nibiru has made a comeback thanks to claims the Bible has a secret code predicting its return. Yet another conspiracy theorist, David Meade, claimed to have found and cracked a numerical code in the Bible and clues hidden in the Great Pyramids. Meade’s claims have been debunked not just by scientists, but also by the Vatican. So far, Nibiru has refused to appear since last September. It was predicted again in October and, now, April 23rd will be Meade’s third crack at it.
- We’d notice something if something like Nibiru is out there. We’re talking about an object that’s been variously called a “moon,” “a small planet,” “a planet the size of Earth,” and a “brown dwarf star.” While it’s certainly possible to knock objects like this out of their orbit, and in fact Jupiter did just that eons ago, we’d notice the gravitational effects well before it even became visible.
In other words, sorry, but unless we’re all in a simulation and all of planetary physics is about to be defied, a planet will not slam into ours and destroy the world on April 23rd. So if you were hoping not to pay those student loans, sorry, but you might want to write the check.