Saturday, February 18, 2012

An investigation into “The Photon Belt”

On February 17th, I received an email titled “2012 is not the end of the word.”(In Chinese) Rather, the first sentence claimed “Scientists finally make sure! On December 21st 2012, the earth will be in the dark continuously for 3 days! It is the time that shift of the Ages will occur on the earth.”

At first, I thought it is just a solar eclipse (occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth). But it is not what the article mean; it means all human, whether they live in North America, China, or India, will not be able to see our sun for 3 days. It is a tremendously interesting topic for me. How did I miss it? If such prediction is correct, it will be the first time this astronomy phenomenon ever happens in all recorded human history or even since the birth of our solar system! Why I didn’t see any scientific journal writes about it? How does it happen? Could we avoid it? What should we do during that time? Are human in danger because of it?

I have to find out more. So I continue to read it.

Surprisingly, the email said relatively little about science in the email. Mostly, it wrote about our earth will enter “The Photon Belt” and “Zero Dimension” during that 3 days period. But it didn’t explain what is “The Photon Belt”, what is photon, nor what does it mean to experience “Zero Dimension.” It predicted many people will die, but mentioned little about how and where people will die. It also predict geomagnetic reversal will happened in this year, but again, nothing about what makes it happen.

So I decided to use internet to search the source of its claim. Maybe it will include some science and explain it more. Maybe the author of the email didn’t bother to mention it because he or she think it is too difficult to be understood.

On a Wikipedia page titled “Photon belt”, it point the source to a German engineer named Paul Otto Hesse who described his beliefs about the Photon Belt and its impact on humanity and planet Earth in his book Der J├╝ngste Tag (The Last Day) in 1950. His book and the Photon Belt concept had been referred by many people and organization including Cosmic Awareness (cosmicawareness.org), who wrote a Q&A article called “2012 and the Ascension” that I believe the Chinese version came from.

However, in the article “2012 and the Ascension”, again, said nothing about scientific findings, experiments, nor published papers. It only reminded me of many pseudo-scientific beliefs which often use big word like Universal Consciousness, 5th (or higher) dimension, The Veil of Forgetfulness, and so on to confuse general public so people would buy their books or video tapes. We should be alarmed when the person who asks for money is the same person who knows money will be useless after their prediction come true.

In fact, from other sources on the internet, prediction regarding “The Photon Belt” had already been made and failed not once, not twice, but thrice, included 1992, 1997, and 2011. Also, from physics point of view, photons are merely particles of electromagnetic energy, which we commonly experience as light. If a huge number of photon ever strikes Earth, we would experience nothing more than a little sunburn rather than a total darkness. Furthermore, in order to form a hypothetical belt full of photon to orbit around a star cluster (a group of thousand stars) called Pleiades as stated by Cosmic Awareness and others alike; it will require a mass of a black hole which astronomers never observed. Did scientists ever found something about it? Yes. The star cluster is actually about 400 light years away and it is running away from us. It is not likely for the star cluster to be anyway near the solar system soon.

Nevertheless, when I looked back at the original email, I found it is hard to blame the author or the sender. Their intention is generally good. They asked nothing in return. At the end of email, the author argued “regardless of this message is true or not, we should accompany our family and friends more while this wonderful world still exists. We should start to appreciate what we have now! ” I guess this is why LC Tung talked about this after I read my article concerning why we should appreciate our short existence on Earth.

Indeed, it is hard to distinguish between seemingly reasonable fictions that satisfy our needs and often counterintuitive nature of science that can not be easily understood. Eventually, I think scientists are responsible for it because they didn’t try hard enough to make science interested and enjoyable to people outside of scientific community. I believe learning English is the first step to figure out what science really tell us. This investigation is only possible by using English, and it will not be possible if I didn’t attend this writing class.

Side note: What if the reason why the media didn’t mention about “The Photon Belt” is because government didn’t want public to panic and overreact? Well, to be fair. If you think government is powerful enough to do so, you will have to admit it is also probable that they sent a 23 year old engineering student to spy on a writing class for 6 months and write an article once he hear a truth that government doesn’t want you to know.