Japan Earthquake 03/11/2011Interesting article from Leo Lewis in the Times from 2007, about how Japan nearly avoided a “nuclear power-quake disaster” back then. It always seems when these great disasters happen there was the one lone expert who no one took seriously. Leo Lewis writes”

Japan’s turbulent history of war and natural catastrophe has already given the world a terrifying vocabulary of death: tsunami, kamikaze, Hiroshima.

But the country now stands on the brink of unleashing its most chilling phrase yet: genpatsu-shinsai — the combination of an earthquake and nuclear meltdown capable of destroying millions of lives and bringing a nation to its knees.

The phrase, derived from the Japanese words for “nuclear power” and “quake disaster”, is the creation of Katsuhiko Ishibashi, Japan’s leading seismologist and one of the Government’s top advisers on nuclear-quake safety. He said that the world may never know how close it came to its first genpatsu-shinsai this week. Luck, as much an anything else, helped to avert it.

NASA has named 2012 the ‘most absurd science fiction film of all time,’ but what would you expect from the Hollywood director known as “the master of disaster”? For a ‘definitive guide…

NagasakiBombVia Diatribe Media:

We’re very excited to finally release our first episode of a new podcast series called “This Is The End!” Though the series will probably branch out to many different topics in the future, right now, much like the zine “This Is The End,” will center around an apocalyptic theme.

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The inaugural episode features two readings from our “Liquid Burning of Apocalyptic Bard Letters” reading series – one from Ian Randall, a Chicago slam poet and singer of the band Farmer’s Tan Market and one from Brandon Weatherbee, host of the You Me Them Everybody podcast series. You will be able to subscribe on iTunes very soon, but for now either click the link directly or use the player built in on this page.

SunCMEThe most awesome part of this story from Ian O’Neill on Discovery News is the technology that even recognized this event in the first place, but there are some out there who fear-monger about it (needless to say the title of this story is in jest). I try to keep in mind that the universe is more a wondrous place, than one intent on destroying human life (I’m looking at you, Larry Joseph). Ian O’Neill writes on Discovery News:

Earlier this morning, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) witnessed a complex magnetic eruption on the sun. The joint NASA/ESA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) — a mission sitting at the L1 point between the Earth and the sun — also spotted a large coronal mass ejection (CME) blasting in the direction of Earth.

It is thought that the SDO and SOHO observations are connected, making this a global magnetic disturbance affecting the whole of the Earth-facing side of the sun.

Planet EaterReads like an extreme case of global warming … unlike what’s going to happen to Earth is around 5 billion years when the Sun expands enough to consume most of the inner Solar System (one theory), this planet is moving towards its star. The poor thing only has around 10 million years left.

Man, the Hubble keeps finding cool stuff.

So the clock’s ticking (in astronomical terms), it’s time for the one scientist over there who no one is listening to about this planet’s impending destruction to rocket his infant son off into the universe … not too far from Earth. Reports the Hubble Site News Center

Alasdair Wilkins writes on

A white dwarf 3,260 light-years from Earth — mere walking distance in cosmic terms — looks like it could go supernova. And that stellar explosion would have dire consequences for our planet, not to mention our possible descendants.

Located in the binary system T Pyxidis, the white dwarf in question was originally thought to be far more distant from our solar system. Although three thousand light-years might sound like a fairly safe distance away from a potential supernova, it really is quite close by astronomical standards. To put it in some perspective, the diameter of the Milky Way, at roughly 100,000 light-years wide, is multiple orders of magnitude greater than what we’re talking about here.

The huge white dwarf in the T Pyxidis system is known as a recurrent nova because it undergoes relatively minor eruptions at regular intervals. Small nova explosions have been observed every twenty years for over a century, although the last recorded nova burst was in 1967. Astronomers are unsure why the star is overdue.

The following is part of John Gorenfeld’s article “‘End of the World Prophet Found in Error, Not Insane’: A Failed Prophet’s Survival Handbook,” one of over 40 articles in the Disinformation anthology, Everything You Know About God Is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to Religion, edited by Russ Kick. For more on John Gorenfeld, check out


CrystalBallThought about becoming an end-of-the-world prophet? It’s not the make-or-break enterprise you might think, as much as your gut feeling may be that mobs of angry parishioners await the fortune-teller who talks them into making room on the calendar for the final trumpets, the Rapture, World War III, the return of Jesus, global computer meltdowns, or post-game shows on life hosted by great messiahs stepping out of the pages of history — only for the poor dupes to find themselves paying bills the next week.

Time and again, it hasn’t worked that way. The beauty of blown prophecies is that failure is the beginning of success. That is, if you adopt the techniques of history’s most successful faulty prophets. Through time-tested rebranding methods, they’ve reinvented failure as proof that they were righter than anyone could have imagined.

The very glue holding your congregation together can be a mistaken prediction and what you’ve invested in it. Thousands of apostles of Shaini Goodwin of Tacoma, Washington, known to admirers as the “Dove of Oneness” and to the Tacoma News Tribune as a “cybercult queen,” hold out for a Judgment Day that will justify all of her bad guesses.

On the fascinating site Letters of Note:

ABombAt 11:00 a.m. on August 9th, 1945, just a minute before the second atomic bomb in the space of three days was dropped on Japan, a B-29 bomber named The Great Artiste quietly dropped three canisters from the sky. Inside each of the canisters, alongside a shockwave gauge designed by American physicist Luis Alvarez, was an unsigned copy of the following letter.

The letter, written by Alvarez and two fellow scientists, was addressed to Japanese nuclear physicist Ryokichi Sagane —a man with whom Alvarez had previously worked at Berkeley — and pleaded with him to inform his ‘leaders’ of the impending ‘total annihilation’ of their cities.

The letter reached Sagane a month later after being found 50km from the centre of devastation: Nagasaki.

Alvarez and Sagane met again 4 years later, at which point the letter was finally signed.

Dan Abramson writes on Huffington Post:

With the value of gold on the rise, Jon Stewart was determined to get to the bottom of what may have caused the increase. The likely fanner of these flames: yep, Glenn Beck.

After noting that gold goes up when people are panicked or concerned, Stewart sat back and enjoyed the greatest hits from “Beck’s hour-long nightly fear-cast.” That alone wouldn’t be enough to credit Beck for initiating this gold rush, but his role as spokesman for Goldline, an internet site where you buy gold, surely sealed the deal. Stewart recapped:

“Glenn Beck is paid by Goldline to drum up interest in gold, which increases value during times of fear; an emotion reinforced nightly on Fox by Glenn Beck.”

Calling Beck’s ethics into question, Stewart finished by stating, “You can’t spell ‘gold’ without G-O-D.”

TheIHCGot to read the fine print more carefully, concerned citizens … Nick Allen writes in the Telegraph:

Sony Pictures set up a website for an organisation called the Institute for Human Continuity which predicts a cataclysmic denouement for Earth three years from now. It suggests that “after two decades of rigorous research from the world’s top astronomers, mathematicians, geologists, physicists, engineers, futurists, we know that in 2012 a series of cataclysmic forces will wreak havoc on our planet”.

It even details how elections have begun for the leader of the post-2102 world, offers survival kits and asks people to sign up to a lottery to be saved. In fact, the website is a vehicle for promoting 2012 — a disaster movie about the end of the world based on predictions in the Mayan calendar.

Disinformation: The Podcast – 2010: Science or Superstition with Alexandra Bruce

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Woo-woo (or just plain woo) is a term used, often in a dismissive way, by skeptics for dealing with phenomena that can’t be verified by independent evidence, but yet, many people strongly believe in. So who better to investigate the “woo-woo” world of the present-day 2012 phenomenon than author Alexandra Bruce (Beyond The Bleep, Beyond The Secret), no stranger to the realm where pop culture and the esoteric collide.

Raymond Wiley and Joe McFall, hosts of our monthly interview series Disinformation: The Podcast, talk with Alexandra about her new book 2012: Science Or Superstition, a companion to the Disinformation documentary of the same name.