31 October, 2014: It may feel like winter is slowly squeezing all the sunlight out of your day, but if you see any news stories claiming the Earth is headed for â€˜Six Days of Total Darknessâ€™ then donâ€™t start stocking up on the tins of beans and torches just yet.
â€˜Satirical news siteâ€™has been spreading this fake story far and wide on the web this week, taking in numerous Facebook and Twitter users and encouraging them to post about what theyâ€™re going to be up to during the six days of darkness.
The story on the vaguely official looking website titled â€œNasa Confirms Earth Will Experience 6 Days of Total Darkness in December 2014!â€ claims that an incoming solar storm is to blame, causing “dust and space debris to become plentiful and thus block 90% sunlightâ€.
This is false. Although solar storms certainly are real phenomena (they occur due to fluctuations in the Sunâ€™s magnetic field) theyâ€™re not like terrestrial storms that can blow up dust and dirt.
However, the hoax story even drafts in some credible-sounding sources including Nasa chief Charles Bolden, who reportedly warned the public to stay calm. Some users even linked to a (real) video of Bolden talking about â€œemergency preparednessâ€ â€“ an official-sounding phrase that apparently bypasses common sense to hit the big button marked â€˜PANICâ€™ in the brain.
In actuality Bolden recorded the video to encourage US families to think about what they would do in the event of an earthquake or hurricane â€“ natural disasters that are a real enough threat in America.
This total-darkness hoax apparently comes in a couple of flavours (some claim that a non-existent â€œphoton beltâ€ is responsible for the blackout) and are so widespread that Nasa employees even had to debunk the rumours themselves back in 2012.
Source: The Independent