The top 10 armageddon predictions
There are many things to consider in an apocalypse.
Do you think you'll be raptured? If so, where is the best place to wait? How long will the journey skyward be? Will you need to pack food? If you are more secular in your beliefs, then how do you think the end will come? Aliens?
More than 200 armageddons have been predicted since the beginning of recorded history. Not one has come true... Obviously.
The next one being hailed by conspiracy theorists the world over however, is easily the most widely disseminated in history.
Through online sites and social media, the "Mayan Prophecy", which people believe dictates the world will end on December 21, 2012, has gained unprecedented attention.
This theory has been debunked many times over, but whether you believe in them or not, they are interesting beasts - always captivating at the movies, even for the toughest cynics.
It's safe to say we all have certain fascination in these things. So here is our list of top 10 supposed apocalypses.
1. The Mayan Prophecy - 2012
So the theory goes the Mayan calendar just mysteriously stops on this date. It must mean the world does too, right? Wrong. It's actually a little more complicated than that, but it is thought the date indicates the end of a 5125-year-long cycle and consequently, the start of a new era. The theory originated with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, was heading towards Earth. This was initially predicted to happen in May 2003, but when nothing did happen it was moved to December 2012 and linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice.
2. Y2K - 2000
We braced ourselves. We stocked up on food and water to ready for a global computer meltdown. It never came. Although the difference between this apocalyptic theory and others is there was an element of science to it. Scientists genuinely did not know how the world's computers would react to a 00 date. Turns out, they took it all in their stride. Which possibly gives a whole new weight to user error.
3. Large Hadron Collider - 2011
It's the most expensive science project in history. The Large Hadron Collider, which resides underground spanning the border between Switzerland and France was essentially built to simulate the big bang. The experiment is ongoing but it is already highly likely the Higgs Boson has been discovered - a particle which gives all other particles mass.
What the ever-optimistic end-timers thought would happen however was the creation of a man-made black hole which would suck earth into the depths of nothingness. It didn't.
4. Halley's Comet - 1910
Comets have long been feared as harbingers of doom, hence Halley's is not the only comet to appear in this list. When Halley's comet reappeared in 1910 it was blamed for many natural disasters which took place that year - the flooding of the Seine being one. But mass hysteria was not incited until the Chicago Observatory claimed it had detected the poisonous gas cyanogen in the comet's tail. Reported in the New York Times in February 1910, the gas was believed to "impregnate the atmosphere" killing off all existence.
5. The Jupiter Effect - 1982
In 1974 John Gribbin and Stephen Plagemann wrote the best-selling book, The Jupiter Effect. Espousing that in March 1982 all the planets would align on the same side of the sun - the gravitational pull would trigger a series of cosmic catastrophic events. Both authors were Cambridge educated astrophysicists and Gribbin, at the time, was the editor of international science journal Nature. According to news reports from that time, people actually sold their houses and moved away from Los Angeles, where an earthquake along the San Andreas fault was predicted to wipe out the city.
It never happened. The year after, the two authors published The Jupiter Effect Reconsidered. It too was a best-seller.
6. Millerites - April 23, 1843
American farmer and preacher William Miller is one of the most famous doomsday predictors in modern history. He began to predict the second coming of Christ in the early 1940s. The world would become engulfed in flames sometime between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844.
He spread his prophecy through town meetings and using flyers, such was the technology at the time, but still managed to gain more than 100,000 followers - known as Millerites. With the window of apocalyptic doom being a whole year, the Millerites moved to the mountains just to be safe. When it emerged on March 22, 1844 that they were safe enough to begin with, they picked a new date. The world's end did not happen on October 22 either so a new date was picked. His followers eventually came up with an excuse for that failed prediction as well and formed a group we now refer to as the Seventh Day Adventist movement.
7. Mormon Armageddon (Mormogeddon?)
In that famous 1835 church meeting, the founder of the Latter Day Saints movement Joseph Smith declared he had been speaking with God "recently", and the second coming of Christ could happen sometime in the next 56 years. Way to put a number on it.
8. Hale-Bopp - 1997
With the discovery of Hale-Bopp comet in 1995, came, almost immediately, the predictions of doom. Tragically, at its last passing over Earth in 1997, 39 people committed suicide when Hale-Bopp reached its closest point. They were part of a religious group called Heaven's Gate, who believed a UFO riding the comet's wake would rescue them from Earth's inevitable destruction.
9. Waco - 1993
David Koresh lead an unsanctioned offshoot of the Latter Day Saints called the Branch Davidians. It has been widely reported Koresh was responsible for many cases of abuse against children and women. In a February 1993 raid, the FBI stormed the group's compound in Waco, Texas, initiating a 51-day standoff which resulted in the deaths of dozens of Davidians, including Koresh and four FBI agents. The Davidian fought back because they had been convinced by Koresh that he was Jesus, and the siege was the beginning of the end of the world.
10. Harold Camping - 1994
The modern-day Nostradamus he is not. Harold Camping has made no less than three highly-publicised world-end predictions, none of which have come true. The Christian radio evangelist published a book in 1992, called 1994? In it, he claimed figures taken from the bible indicated the world would end in September 1994. When it didn't, he revised the date to March 30, 1995. His most recent predictions came last year when he predicted the rapture to occur on May 21 and the world to end on October 21, 2011.
- © Fairfax NZ News