Apocalypse Now… ish?

21/12/12- The date we have feared in recent years as doomsday, the end of the world, our reckoning… or whatever you want to call it. This was the date at the end of the Mayan Calendar leading many to cite it as the end of days.

So I don’t know how you spent the 21st but I, along with many others around the globe, was having a great time at an End of the World party. So when it reached midnight and there was still no sign of the Four Horsemen, asteroids or aliens planning on demolishing our planet for an intergalactic highway, I, along with most, didn’t even notice. Things continued as normal, with no real elation that the world had not ended.

This is because no one had ever truly expected it to end. The word apocalypse carries very little weight with it these days. It has been reduced from a word capable of inspiring global terror to an excuse to have a party or make a film.

Maybe it is the sheer volume of false predictions of the apocalypse that have been made throughout history that have heightened our cynicism to the extent of complete disbelief. Because let’s face it- there have been hundreds

Let’s begin with the example of the prediction by the Assyrians. A clay tablet found dating around 2800 BC held the words ‘Our Earth is degenerate. In these latter days there are signs that the world is coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are common.’ Bribery and corruption remain common but the Assyrian prediction of the end of days was inaccurate… obviously.

Over the rest of history various people including religious leaders, Columbus, mathematicians and scientists have predicted different apocalyptic events that will bring about the end of our world.  American Christian radio broadcaster, Harold Camping, has predicted six different dates for our day of judgement over the past two decades. Every time one proves to be wrong he just picks another date. You have to give him kudos for perseverance at least.

And the latest apocalyptic prediction- the end of the Mayan Calendar on the 21st of December, caused imaginations to run wild and bring about many suggestions for the end of the world. These ideas included a galactic alignment, a geomagnetic reversal of the poles, an alien invasion, the earth being destroyed by a supernova and the list goes on…

However, yet again the prediction proved false. This may have been due to a simple misreading of the calendar, as has been suggested, but it was still a little disappointing.

But never fear. There are plenty more predictions of the end of all things to look forward to. Foerster wrote in a science magazine in 1960 that on November the 13th 2026 the world’s population would reach infinity, which was a result of the ‘Doomsday Equation.’ However, he later suggested that this article was written in jest so again this date is unlikely to see our fiery demise. But don’t worry we also have the NASA prediction of an asteroid hitting the planet in 2036 and if that fails, Nostradamus pointed out that prophecies ended in 3797 suggesting the end of the world. And there will doubtless be hundreds of other predictions made over the progressing years to keep us going.

In fact, whilst we’re at it I’m going to throw one in there. I predict doomsday, the destruction of Earth and all it’s inhabitants, the day of judgement, the ultimate apocalypse will be on the 31st of July 2022. For no other reason than it’s my 30th birthday and I would love to celebrate it at another End of the World Party. The last one I was at was just thrilling.

-Claire Flynn

-Image courtesy of Michael Lehenbauer (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikelehen/)


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