Top scientists are stepping forward to dispel rumors that the world is ending in 2012, combating a wave of Internet hysteria that coincides with the marketing frenzy for Roland Emmerich's rivers-of-schlock masterpiece 2012. One NASA scientist with a prominent website, David Morrison, says he used to get a question a week about the world ending in 2012, and now he gets a dozen a day. Adds Morrison: "Two teenagers said they didn't want to see the end of the world so they were thinking of ending their lives." You hear that, Emmerich? Your work isn't just scarring our retinas, it's driving teens to suicide!

(A spokesperson for Sony Pictures denies that the movie's marketing is ramping up our hysteria about the real-life end of the world, of course.)

So Morrison and other prominent scientists are standing up to debunk the 2012 rumors — in particular, anthropologists say that the fact the Mayan calendar ends in 2012 just means it rolls over, like an odometer. (Or like your computer's clock prior to Jan. 1, 2000. So maybe this is the Mayan version of the Y2K problem?)

The most hilarious part of the Los Angeles Times article on the subject is the list of crazy theories about how the world will end, all of which would make better movies than Emmerich's:

[There's] the persistent Internet rumor that a planet called Nibiru or Planet X is going to crash into the Earth... Besides fearing a rampaging planet, the worriers think the sun might lash out at the Earth with some calamitous electromagnetic force. They also fear that some sort of alignment between the Earth and the center of our galaxy could unleash catastrophe.

I want a movie about Planet X and Nibiru teaming up to crush us. Oh, and the other best part? There's a fancy new term for fear of the world ending in 2012: "Cosmophobia." [Los Angeles Times]