The power of the internet seems infinite. No other medium can connect and send a message out as fast. Maybe the news but even they find themselves reporting on top internet stories lately.
Yesterday (Monday August 24, 2009) I got an email. This email was about Mars and how close to earth it will be. I had received and email much like this one, I think about a year ago, so this time I was curious to know what the experts were saying.
Here is what the email said:
“The Red Planet is about to be spectacular in August of 2009!
This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars in an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287.”
It goes on to explain that “NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN”
So for my in-depth research, I looked in NASA’s web site. I suspect that NASA should have accurate information, right? Here is what they had to say about this Mars close to Earth event:
“Beware the Mars Hoax
There’s a rumor about Mars going around the internet. Here are some snippets from a widely-circulated email message:
“The Red Planet is about to be spectacular.”
“Earth is catching up with Mars [for] the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history.”
“On August 27th … Mars will look as large as the full moon.”
And finally, “NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN.”
Only the first sentence is true. The Red Planet is about to be spectacular. The rest is a hoax.
Here are the facts: Earth and Mars are converging for a close encounter this year on October 30th at 0319 Universal Time. Distance: 69 million kilometers. To the unaided eye, Mars will look like a bright red star, a pinprick of light, certainly not as wide as the full Moon.
Disappointed? Don’t be. If Mars did come close enough to rival the Moon, its gravity would alter Earth’s orbit and raise terrible tides.
Sixty-nine million km is good. At that distance, Mars shines brighter than anything else in the sky except the Sun, the Moon and Venus.”
These lines are quoted directly from NASA, feel free to look it up and read the rest of this article. But you know what the worst part is? That it has been going around since 2003 and this article is actually from 2005. When NASA says “this year on October 30th […]”, they mean of the year 2005. It seems that someone read about this event and decided to edit it a bit, EVERY YEAR! Everywhere on the internet one can look up August 27 + Mars and find this information that is absolutely wrong.
Others have done what I did or simply know about the subject and have written about this hoax, and yet it doesn’t seem to go away. What is it? Our wish to believe in magic or amazing things that makes us fall for stories like this one, over and over again.
There have been many incredible hoaxes throughout the years. The most famous one in the US was not even intended as a hoax. You remember War of the Worlds (no not Spielberg’s movie starring Tom Cruise), the story about it being read by Orsen Welles in 1938 on the radio and people thinking that it was a news flash.
Or how about the famous Tasaday? The stone-age tribe found in 1971 living in a rain forest on the Philippine island of Mindanao. To this day, there is still controversy surrounding this tribe and the reasons for the hoax, if any. The Tasaday have both confessed to the hoax and then denied it. It seems that there were political strings attached to this hoax.
I realize that the Mars Hoax is merely a case of embellishment and yet, it makes me wonder; if this can be done with such an innocent event, one where, no one has anything to gain, what other misguided information have I read and believed to be true?
Who know, maybe I should research everything I read… but then doesn’t the internet lose its point… FAST AND EASY ACCESSIBLE INFORMATION, but then again no one said it was accurate right?