The end of the world is something mankind has predicted and waited for since the dawn of written history. Religious leaders from all faiths, fortune tellers, and a variety of assorted crackpots have all thought at some point that they had it figured out.
Generally, science has told us we don’t have much to worry about unless we’re born several million years down the road.
But if you put any stock in CNN‘s reporting, you might have started to think otherwise as late as Tuesday morning.
The initial “iReport” claimed the following:
If astronomers are right, all life on this planet could be extinguished in less than 30 years from now. Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have detected a large object the size of Manhattan possibly on a collision course with Earth. Using their Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), the 10-mile wide object was found approximately 51 million miles from Earth. Scientists believe that during a close encounter with Mars, the asteroid was nudged slightly off its usual orbit and may currently be on a high speed collision course with our fragile planet.
The asteroid is calculated to have a potentially lethal encounter with the Earth on March 35, 2041 [IQ: We initially did a double-take on this as well]. Astronomers have placed the odds of an impact at 1 in 2.04, which is by far the most unprecedented risk ever faced to humanity, let alone from asteroids. Such an impact could potentially end civilization as we know it.
More information will be posted here as the story develops…
Well, the story has developed further, and NASA has apparently called the news site on the carpet for it.
“NASA has confirmed via email that this story is false,” said a CNN producer. “A spokewoman [sic] for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory says that the largest object detected by NEOWISE measures 3 km in diameter and poses no risk to Earth. The iReport has been removed.”
Of course, that does call in to question where the initial report came from; to that, the news site hasn’t offered up any details, nor has it stated why they ran with it without first verifying through NASA.
The way the original text reads indicates that NASA provided the end of the world info themselves, but the follow-up clearly disproves that.
The lesson in all this: stop believing end of the world predictions already! (And maybe question your trusted news sources a bit more closely.)
UPDATE: In response to some comments that this is a false story: yes, of course it is, hence the editorial comment that we noticed the false date along with the rest of our story; but the original was not created by us and it was not played off as satire by CNN. While the network has since removed all traces of the iReport — even the retraction — here’s a screen grab from when we imported the original link into our Pocket account early this morning. Hope this clears things up!
[Image via Shutterstock]