Dr. David Morrison is well-educated, smart, and was an astronomer at the University of Hawaii for 17 years before heading to NASA in 1988. For the past four years, as The Awl's Dan Duray reports, Morrison's day job has involved answering over 5,000 e-mails from concerned earthlings regarding doomsday and the fictional planet of Nibiru. Duray's feature on Morrison, NASA's "apocalypse astronomer", hits that sweet spot of fascination with the macabre, job envy, and semi-assurance that there are people out there who are far more worried about the end of the world than you are. Morrison, as Duray explains, has been running NASA's "Ask an Astrobiologist" feature on the institute's website for the past eight years, and in the past four years the column has been hijacked by doomsday worrywarts primarily concerned about the Earth colliding with a fictional planet called Nibiru--so much so that an in-depth Q&A about the end of the world has been blown out, and expanded upon. (Here, have a look, the Q&A is about 20 questions long with several sub-sections and linkouts.) That is a lot of work for Morrison, who reportedly spends an hour every day corresponding with emailers about the apocalypse. Though, as Duray notes, Morrison's answers aren't always met with kindness (which Morrison blames on a "conspiracy meme" that's grown stronger since Obama's election):
"My video 'The truth about Nibiru' has generated, oh, more than 6,000 comments," he said. "And a lot of them are really, really disgustingly nasty. They comment on the size of my penis and say I'm an old bag and nobody can believe anyone from NASA. They can tell from the look in my eyes that I'm lying and because I stick my tongue out. Sometimes I'm actually an alien, I'm a Reptilian, etcetera, etcetera. Oh, it actually doesn't do much harm to me. It's all new to me, though. Maybe this goes on all the time, but I find it just amazing. I never would have dreamed it."
So yes, this astrobiologist can explain why the world won't end, but so far he (and we) still find trolls more confusing and perplexing. Head on over to The Awl for the full story.