The End of the World — Jeeze, Again?

The current Mayan Calendar “end-of-the-world” prophesy is only the latest in a long line of doomsday predictions.  Here’s a very abbreviated list:

Papal Prophesy–– Pope Innocent III launched a crusade in 1213 to wrestle the holy land from the hands of the Islamic infidels, which he saw as the anti-Christ.  He also proclaimed that the Second Coming would be in 1284. The year passed without major notice, but not, of course, for those killed by the Christian crusaders.

Artful Apocalypse —  Painted by Italian Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli, the painting Mystical Nativity includes a prediction that the “loosing of the devil” would be in A.D. 1504. Fueled by the teachings of fanatical preacher Savonarola, Florentines quaked at the apocalyptic references.

Botticelli’s Mystical Nativity

It’s Just A Little Rain Shower – Despite the drought that plagued Europe in 1524, German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Stoeffler declared, after careful calculations, that floods would engulf the earth on February 1st (or 20th by some accounts) of that year. Thousands in London and elsewhere built arks, creating an economic boom for boat-builders. When it started to drizzle on the appointed day in Germany, crowds stormed one three story ark, killing several people, including the builder and owner of the ark.  The rain stopped soon after.

Credit: chris24w via Flickr

Halley’s Comet — The 1910 occurrence of Halley’s Comet sparked panic when an astronomer named Camille Flammarion announced that when the earth passed through the tail of Halley’s, the toxic gas cyanogen would penetrate the atmosphere and kill off all life forms on earth. Gas masks were purchased and silly remedies sold well since the same newspapers that quoted scientists explaining that there was no danger also carried tales of the end of the world.  A good time was had by all, and a lot of money was made by some.

The End – Again — Using numerology and the Bible, California-based Family Radio host Harold Camping has predicted the end of the earth numerous times, including September 15 or 17 of 1994, May 21, 2011, and October 21st, 2011. His followers continue to give him millions of dollars to pay for billboards that encourage the public to prepare their souls for the newest “last day.”

Y2K — Due to short-sighted computer programmers, the change from the year 1999 to 2000 was predicted to throw a computer-dependent world into complete chaos. Millions of people stocked up on food, weapons, flashlights, batteries, etc. What happened on January 1? The same major clean-up of confetti, party-hats, and vomit (depending on the maturity level of the revelers) that happens every January 1!

Year 2000

Large Hadron Collider — Scientists built a 27 kilometer-long particle accelerator on the border of France and Switzerland in an attempt to recreate the Big Bang. In the months before it was due to be turned on (on September 10, 2008), many people (including scientists) expressed concern that it could generate a black hole that would envelop the earth! In the end (pun intended!), the project went forward without destroying the earth. But then again, it isn’t due to be turned off until… 2014!

CERN’s Large Hadron Collider via Google Maps

And if we survive the end of the Mayan calendar, some scientists believe that the sun will reach the next stage of its development in one billion years, rendering the earth either completely scorched or burned to ashes. But there’s plenty of time to create Plan B!