Head for the hills. The end of the world is near. For the past month conspiracy-theory sites have been all abuzz with the latest scare story: that a comet surrounded by a cloud of dust is going to hit the Earth this month and trigger an end-of-the-human-race scenario.
Word of the approaching comet was first leaked on the internet by someone using the screen name 'Aussie Bloke,' who claimed to be an Australian astronomer. You can look at some of his posts over at Bushcountry.org
(thanks to Marco Langbroek for sending the link). They make pretty dramatic reading. For instance, here's where he describes the effect that the cometary impact will have:
"There will be several impacts of differing sizes spread over the globe. The bombardment will last a week or so at most. The largest fragment will rock the planet and the smaller ones will wipe out a city here or there depending on where they come down. There WILL be quakes and firestorms and major flooding of coastlines due to ocean impacts. Yes...it will be much like the movie 'deep impact' only worse."
According to Aussie Bloke, there's not much time to get your affairs in order because the dust cloud will begin to reach us tomorrow (June 8), and the first impact will occur on June 18.
Now it seemed pretty easy to dismiss some random guy calling himself Aussie Bloke, but then he decided to reveal his true identity
. He said that he was Dr. Grant Gartrell, and sure enough there definitely is a fully credentialed Australian astronomer by that name... who has published articles about meteors and cometary impacts. But unfortunately (or fortunately, rather), that Dr. Grant Gartrell completely denies any knowledge of this 'Impact in June' stuff
. In fact, he's been retired from astronomy for quite a while and now spends his time running a blueberry farm, not tracking comets.
It looks like the entire 'Impact in June' hysteria has actually been an elaborate hoax designed to poke fun at the conspiracy nuts. One clue that it was all a joke can be found in the evidence that was presented. For instance, one poster noted that you could tell the comet was approaching because "fireballs have increased significantly over the last several weeks and are happening EVERYWHERE."
He then noted that a fireball was seen near Grover's Mill, New Jersey
(scroll about a third of the way down the page). Grover's Mill, of course, is where the Martians supposedly landed during the 1938 War of the Worlds Panic Broadcast