FoxNews.com (January 21, 2011)
"The super-giant red star Betelgeuse in Orion’s nebula is predicted to cataclysmically explode, and the impending supernova may even reach Earth -- someday.
"But will it happen by 2012, as recent news reports suggest? Probably not, experts told FoxNews.com. While the second biggest star in the universe is strangely losing mass -- and has already become a red giant, meaning it is destined to explode and become a supernova -- there's no reason to believe that it will happen anytime soon.
" 'The story is pretty "Hollywoody,"' said New Jersey Institute of Technology professor Philip R. Goode. In reality, the stars eventual explosion is inevitable, but no one knows when it will happen, he explained -- 2012 is pure conjecture...."
The article quotes Phil Plait, of Discovery News, who pointed out that Betelgeuse is too far away to do us much harm.
There's also a (very) short discussion of why Betelgeuse is about to blow: basically, it's running out of fuel.
The Lemming's written about Betelgeuse before. Also the various and sundry 'end-of-the-world' fads of the last thousand years or so.
Back to P. Plait: He's quoted, again, saying that Betelgeuse is expected to explode 'soon' - by cosmic standards. That's somewhere between right new and maybe 100,000 years from now.
The article ends with: "...Goode agreed. 'If you want to bet on it, it's better to try the lottery,' he said."
The 'Betelgeuse in 2012' thing reminded me of a recipe I made up for a post a few years back:
Recipe for fear and panic:
- Take one handful of journalists
- Add a pinch of facts
- Fold in one gallon of assumptions
- Shake vigorously
- Serve before facts rise to surface
(October 10, 2007)
- "Clockwork Mass Extinctions, Cosmic Rays, and Cycles"
(July 14, 2010)
- "Killer Tomatoes: How Could I Have Missed This Classic?"
(May 3, 2010)
- "Oh, Wow! Betelgeuse Has a Couple of Really Hot Spots"
(January 13, 2010)
- "2012 and All That: The End of the World, from 500 to Now"
(November 11, 2009)
- "Lemming Tracks: All Betelgeuse, All the Time"
(June 10, 2009)