Date: August 6, 2010
Title: Expanding Horizons
Podcaster: 2012 Hoax
Organization: 2012hoax.org is a community wiki, which seeks to find, document and debunk the rumors of a doomsday in the year 2012.
Description: Bill Hudson from 2012hoax.org describes how the fight against the 2012 doomsday hoax is going international. Because of the Creative Commons license selected by 2012hoax.org, organizations are able to copy and republish the information on their own websites. Bill Hudson interviews the founder of one such organization; Tiare Rivera of seti.cl, which is translating the pages from 2012hoax.org as well as many other science-based websites into Spanish.
Today’s sponsor: This episode of “365 Days of Astronomy” is sponsored by no one. Please consider sponsoring an episode. Click on the “Donate” button on the left sidebar.
This is Bill Hudson with 2012hoax.org, once again talking about the great 2012 doomsday hoax, and the need for the amateur astronomy community to respond to it.
Last time I spoke about thinking outside of the box, and looking for opportunities to take the message into places you might not normally think of, and I used the example of my daughter who had taken it upon herself to write an article about the 2012 doomsday hoax for the sparklife blog at sparknotes.com.
This time I’m going to talk about how the message that the “2012 doomsday” is a hoax is going out even farther afield.
I was recently contacted by Lourdes Cahuich, who identified herself as being with the website http://seti.cl . She was asking for permission to translate the pages from http://2012hoax.org into Spanish. I immediately agreed, and by the way if anyone out there wants to translate the site into other languages, you should know that the entire site is published under the Creative Commons, non-commercial, share-alike license, and you do not need specific permission to republish it, so long as you reference 2012hoax.org.
Within a few days, the first page went up, and soon after that the second, and then the third. Now, seti.cl Is hosting several pages from 2012hoax.org, translated into Spanish by volunteers.
I began poking around at that website, and I found that in addition to the pages from 2012hoax.org, the site also had translations of numerous pages from other websites.
I became intrigued, and contacted Lourdes to ask about doing an interview regarding the response to the 2012 doomsday hoax in Latin America. Lourdes politely declined, but put me in contact with Tiare Rivera, who is the founder of the website. We had a delightful conversation in which we each explored how we each got started on our respective paths of “astronomical activism”. Here is a portion of that interview:
Bill: Hello, how are you?
Tiare: I’m doing fine. We have a sunny day here in Chile, a very… a little bit cold, but everything’s fine here.
Bill: How did you decide to start seti.cl, and what’s the relationship between seti.cl and the seti institute?
Tiare: Well, I started the idea of seti.cl… I was looking for seti communities here in Chile and in Latin America, but I wasn’t able to find any of them. So I found a website called SETI.cl, but it was actually dead. There was no one there. So I decided to create this idea again, of this SETI community, of science, and science outreach. So I started to look for websites who were talking about this subject, and I found one on overclockers.cl. And, well, I found Claudio Jerez and Oliver Prostran, who help me with the idea of creating, or recreating seti.cl . We started the website in 2008, and now we have a new design, and we have translators. They are volunteers who use their time and their efforts to make translations into Spanish of many scientific websites.
Bill: Oh, very nice! So that is the primary purpose of seti.cl, to translate scientific websites into Spanish for the Spanish speaking communities?
Tiare: Yes, we have permission from many websites to translate, we have Universe Today, Bad Astronomy dot com, Ciencia Kanija which is a Spanish website, and they help me with free translations too, (science for citizens dot net, or planet quest from NASA, so we are trying to make more access, more information available to our spanish speakers. We also create interviews from scientific or from [amateur] astronomers who want, or who are interested in science, and we try to make a more human side, we try to show a human side, of what are their dreams or why are they doing what they do. Sometimes they don’t even earn too much money, we have amateur astronomers who give free talks, and we try to understand why are they interested in science and why kids should follow their path.
I had the opportunity to work in a school last year, it was an incredible experience. I started as a secretary, I started doing a replacement there. But the director, the school principal, saw that I was very interested in astronomy and in science, and she let me work on the school library, and you not only give books there, you can also give classes. So I got very interested in teaching science, with fun videos, I don’t know… “The Big Moon World”… that’s kind of old, but I showed them those videos to kids, astronomy videos too, so kids were very interested. We even made a school project where 15 kids were able to make a question to Astronaut Jose Hernandez from Mexico, and he was able to answer this question in orbit. So as you can see there are many scientific projects you can do, and there are many ways to encourage kids to learn more about science. And you know, in a classroom, well in public schools here in Chile we have 45 kids in one classroom, many of them are very encouraged by the schools to be taught in arts areas, like dancing and singing or … i don’t know… coreography or cheerleaders in your country, but science, it’s not very popular here, so we need to encourage a few kids, maybe there’s one kid or two kids interested in science, and we need [to] take them and teach them.
Bill: Are you also an amateur astronomer? What is your background besides working at the school?
Tiare: Well, I’m an accountant, which is nothing to do with science, but when I was eleven years old I watched the movie “Contact”, and I got interested in SETI and astronomy. Then I started to read and watch documentaries about SETI, and I used to see the SETI guys with huge radio telescopes behind, and I used to think “Wow, that must be a really cool job”, but then I started my accounting studies, but always with this science curiosity. And now it’s getting stronger, so I have this website SETI.cl and it’s becoming part of my life. An d now I realize that I need to go to this path, to this road of science and education.
Bill: That’s excellent, I think more people need to follow that example.
Tiare: You can make a big change in a kid’s mind. It’s incredible to see them get interested in science, and in astronomy, and it’s very important to create and to encourage science outreach around the world, and especially here in Latin America.
Bill: So I was very happy to have some of the people associated with your website contact me and request to be able to translate our website, 2012hoax.org, into Spanish, but I was curious, what has been the feedback, or the concern from Chile about the 2012 rumors?
Tiare: Well in Chile we have a lot of American culture. We see your American movies, and we have TV/Cable and we see a lot of your TV shows, so there is the same concern that you have in America about the subject, especially kids are very [sensitive] about this, so we mst take action about this subject. There are a lot of people who don’t have access to scientific information to see the other side of the coin. So, it’s very important for us to do this scientific outreach. So we must take action and teach kids that nothing’s going to happen, there’s going to be another calendar in a few more years, so we must take action about all this. Here in SETI.cl, everything’s for free, they can take our articles, our translations, and do the science outreach wherever they are. It’s very important for us to create this totally for free. We have very good translators here. It’s amazing because they could charge me for doing what they do but they don’t because they know the purpose of SETI.cl, and it’s very important to continue this amazing job.
Bill: What do you see happening as far as the future of the 2012 debunking over the next couple of years?
Tiare: Well I think this is going to get worse, I mean, the concern is going to keep going, TV shows are going to keep showing the bad side, that we’re going to die, and the earthquakes, and all these things that have happened to us are part of “2012”, which is not true! Because as you may know I lived [through] the earthquake here in Chile, it was 8.2 in my city, and it looked pretty much like the end of the world, I must say! It was a very traumatic experience. But we know that Chile, for example, it’s an area of earthquakes, and we must note that this is normal here, and this is not the end of the world [or] any sign of it. But we must do much more outreach, we need to do it, because things are going to get more serious and people are going to be influenced by TV and popular media.
Bill: Yes, I think it was only a few minutes after the earthquake hit that I started seeing commentary on twitter that obviously this was a sign of 2012, this massive earthquake in Chile is obviously a sign of 2012, so they didn’t wait long before blaming it on 2012, and completely ignoring the fact that that area has had huge earthquakes, as a matter of fact the largest recorded earthquake belongs to Chile, it was the 9.6 in 1960.
Tiare: That was in Valdivia, in Southern Chile, it actually swallowed entire families, the ground opened beneath their feet and swallowed them, and I thought it was going to happen to me, I thought I was going to die beneath the ground, and yeah, that looks like the end of the world, but it’s not the end of the world, it’s just a tragedy that we have, and it will continue here in Chile, and we have several quakes, there was another big one just this morning, so this is not the end of the world, and we need education, education and science are together in all this.
[End of Interview]
If you’d like to hear more clips from this interview, please stay tuned to 2012hoax.org. I’d like to thank Tiare Rivera, and the folks at SETI.cl for translating various valuable websites into Spanish. They’re doing a great service.
That’s all for this time, this is Bill Hudson with 2012hoax.org.
End of podcast:
365 Days of Astronomy
The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is produced by the Astrosphere New Media Association. Audio post-production by Preston Gibson. Bandwidth donated by libsyn.com and wizzard media. Web design by Clockwork Active Media Systems. You may reproduce and distribute this audio for non-commercial purposes. Please consider supporting the podcast with a few dollars (or Euros!). Visit us on the web at 365DaysOfAstronomy.org or email us at info@365DaysOfAstronomy.org. Until tomorrow…goodbye.