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‘Web-bot project’ makes prophecy of 2012 apocalypse

Written in 7-11-2007 by | No Comments

‘Web-bot project’ makes prophecy of 2012 apocalypse

“Web-bot” technology has moved apocalyptic prophecy into the internet age, predicting that the world will end on 21 December 2012.

By Tom Chivers

Conspiracy theorists on the web have claimed that the bots accurately predicted the September 11 attacks and the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, and that they say a cataclysm of some sort will devastate the planet on 21 December, 2012.

The software, similar to the “spiders” that search engines use to index web pages, were originally developed in the 1990s to predict stock market movements.

The bots crawl through relevant web pages, noting keywords and examining the text around them. The theory is that this gives an insight into the “wisdom of crowds”, as the thoughts of thousands of people are aggregated.

However, the technology was later appropriated for another, more controversial – some say nonsensical – use: predicting the future.

Its study of “web chatter” is said to give advance warnings of terrorist attacks, and proponents claim that it successfully did so ahead of 11 September 2001. George Ure, one of two men behind the project, says that his system predicted a “world-changing event” in the 60 to 90 days after June 2001.

Despite the vagueness of this prediction, many believed it to be genuine. Now its makers claim that the technology can predict natural disasters, and that it foresaw the earthquake that triggered the 2004 tsunami, as well as Hurricane Katrina and the devastation that followed.

Its latest and most sweeping prediction is that 21 December 2012 signals the end of the world, possibly through a “polar shift” – when the polarity of the Earth’s magnetic field is reversed. Believers claim that as well as the bots, the 2012 apocalypse is predicted by the ancient Mayan calendar, the Book of Revelations, and the Chinese text I Ching.

Sceptics have pointed out several major flaws in the theory. First, the internet might plausibly reveal group knowledge about the stock market or, conceivably, terror attacks, as these are human-caused events. But, say critics, it would be no more capable of predicting a natural disaster than would a Google search.

Second, the predictions are so vague as to be meaningless, allowing believers to fit facts to predictions after the event: a blogger at compares them to Nostradamus’s quatrains. They give the September 11 prediction as a case in point.

Third, the prophecies become self-distorting. “The more people publish about 2012 and the end of the world,” says the same blogger, “the more data web bots get pointing towards 2012.”

The polar shift theory is based on a genuine scientific theory, “geomagnetic reversal”, which suggests the Earth’s polarity shifts every few hundred thousand years. However, the theory in its current form is not reconcilable with the web-bot predictions of it taking place on a particular day in 2012: best estimates suggest each shift takes around 5,000 years to complete.

A film based on the predicted apocalypse, by The Day After Tomorrow director Roland Emmerich and starring John Cusack and Danny Glover, is due to come out in November, called 2012.

Earth’s magnetic field is changing

Written in 10-10-2007 by | One Comment

Study: Earth’s magnetic field is changing
Observing fluid motions in core could help scientists predict future changes

By Jeremy Hsu

The innermost part of the earth. The outer core extends from 2500 to 3500 miles below the earth’s surface and is liquid metal. The inner core is the central 500 miles and is solid metal.

Something beneath the surface is changing Earth’s protective magnetic field, which may leave satellites and other space assets vulnerable to high-energy radiation.

The gradual weakening of the overall magnetic field can take hundreds and even thousands of years. But smaller, more rapid fluctuations within months may leave satellites unprotected and catch scientists off guard, new research finds.

A new model uses satellite data from the past nine years to show how sudden fluid motions within the Earth’s core can alter the magnetic envelope around our planet. This represents the first time that researchers have been able to detect such rapid magnetic field changes taking place over just a few months.

“There are these changes in the South Atlantic, an area where the magnetic field has the smallest envelope at one third [of what is] normal,” said Mioara Mandea, a geophysicist at the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences in Potsdam, Germany.

Even before the newly detected changes, the South Atlantic Anomaly represented a weak spot in the magnetic field — a dent in Earth’s protective bubble

Bubble bobble
The Earth’s magnetic field extends about 36,000 miles into space, generated from the spinning effect of the electrically-conductive core that acts something like a giant electromagnet. The field creates a tear-drop shaped bubble that has constantly shielded life on Earth against much of the high-energy radiation flowing from the sun.

The last major change in the field took place some 780,000 years ago during a magnetic reversal, although such reversals seem to occur more often on average. A flip in the north and south poles typically involves a weakening in the magnetic field, followed by a period of rapid recovery and reorganization of opposite polarity.

Some studies in recent years have suggested the next reversal might be imminent, but the jury is out on that question.

Measuring interactions between the magnetic field and the molten iron core 1,864 miles down has proven difficult in the past, but the constant observations of satellites such as CHAMP and Orsted have begun to bring the picture into focus.

Electric storm
Mandea worked with Nils Olsen, a geophysicist at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, to create a model of the fluid core that fits with the magnetic field changes detected by the satellites.

However, the rapid weakening of the magnetic field in the South Atlantic Anomaly region could signal future troubles for such satellites. Radiation storms from the sun could fry electronic equipment on satellites that suddenly lacked the protective cover of a rapidly changing magnetic field.

“For satellites, this could be a problem,” Mandea told “If there are magnetic storms and high-energy particles coming from the sun, the satellites could be affected and their connections could be lost.”

The constant radiation bombardment from the sun blows with the solar wind to Earth, where it flows against and around the magnetic field. The effect creates the tear-drop shaped magnetosphere bubble, but even the powerful field cannot keep out all the high-energy particles.

Topsy-turvy history
A large sunspot set off a major radiation storm in 2006 that temporarily blinded some sun-watching satellites. Astronauts on the International Space Station retreated to a protected area as a precaution to avoid unnecessary radiation exposure.

The Earth’s overall magnetic field has weakened at least 10 percent over the past 150 years, which could also point to an upcoming field reversal.

Mandea and Olsen hope to continue refining their model with updated observations, and perhaps to eventually help predict future changes in the Earth’s magnetic field.

The study was detailed in the May online edition of the journal Nature Geoscience.