News Columnists / Thane Burnett
Countdown to ... doomsday
The end of the world is here ... again
By THANE BURNETT
Last Updated: 21st December 2009, 8:11am
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Facebook Digg Del.icio.us Google Stumble Upon Newsvine Reddit Technorati Feed Me Yahoo Simpy Squidoo Spurl Blogmarks Netvouz Scuttle Sitejot + What are these? When humanity's end arrives, Clif High plans to take to his plywood ark to survive.
As for the rest of us?
"I don't give a s---, my boat won't sink," says the modern Doomsday prophet.
"Every person's karma (is dealt with) alone. They're all dead."
Or at least 98% of us, reasons the Washington state 'Time Monk', who's become a celebrity among those searching for the next great Armageddon.
Dec. 21, 2009, marks a three-year countdown to mankind's next predicted end -- Dec 21, 2012. It's then that the 5,125-year cycle of the Mayan calendar ends.
Some believe it can only mean the ancient culture pinpointed 2012 as Doomsday, brought on by a rare galactic alignment of the earth, the sun and the center of the galaxy.
But Maya scholar John Major, and other experts, say attaching Doomsday to the end of the calendar is wrong. And astronomy professors point out the end of the cycle of the calendar simply means it turns around and starts over.
However, anxiety among the easily frazzled will likely increase over the next 36 months.
So much so, NASA has been getting emails from teenagers who are worried the world is doomed.
"I think when you lie on the Internet and scare children in order to make a buck, that is ethically wrong," NASA official David Morrison recently told West Virginia's Charleston Gazette.
But Clif High makes no apologies, saying he's not making any money by spreading fear.
He developed the Web Bot Project -- a software program the 57-year-old programmer says scans chat forums, looking for keywords with emotional ties. He sees them as telltale slips most of us don't even know we're making, as our intuition sends out signals we're not even aware of.
High says by charting these algorithms, and tapping into society's collective unconscious, his halfpasthuman.com site can predict major events -- including a sunspot disaster in December 2012.
"All humans are psychic to some degree," he explains from his home near Olympia, Wash.
He's so sure that, on a limited budget, he's building a 26-foot boat where he and a few friends can ride out the cosmic storm. Towed behind will be another vessel, carrying supplies.
"I accept the fear. I eat it," he points out.
The wealthy have already invested money in buying caves, High says, without divulging names.
But perhaps what they're really hiding from is the 'anti-Santa'.
Little Rock, Ar., author and radio broadcaster Corey Deitz, in his 2012 Guide Book or How To Make the End of the World Fun (2012guidebook.com) suggests doomsday may be delivered from an evil Saint Nick, who will emerge on December 21, 2012.
"To be honest, the man is two bricks shy of a chimney," says Deitz of the real Santa's ability to fight back and save humanity. "It wouldn't take much to push him over the edge."
Besides other possibilities -- including black holes, viruses and earthquakes -- humorist Deitz says mankind can't overlook other possibilities, including deadly penguins or exploding celebrities.
Expect the list of fears to only grow from there over the next three years.
Seeing is believing?
The world is obsessed with Hollywood, so why shouldn't we trust the movies to point out the many ways our story could end?
Here are the top ten ways scriptwriters choose to seal our doom -- and reasons why we'll survive.
1. Alien invasion
While they'll likely just get the flu and die (War of the Worlds) we'd just need to show them John Travolta's 'Battlefield Earth' and they'd leave us in peace.
2. Nuclear War
While once at the top of the fear charts in the days of Dr. Strangelove, this old favorite has dropped down the list in recent years. The countdown always seems to stop with just seconds to spare.
3. Resources Dry Up
Mad Max saw a world where the loss ofenergy resources turned us into gangs of thieves and murderers. But if weekend shopping in a big box store hasn't turned us that way by now, nothing will.
Always a popular way to end the world, it's clear all you have to do to survive is either a) run or b) hit them hard on the head.
5. Killer Computers
While artificial intelligence may hold menace in the worlds of The Terminator and Matrix, here in reality, most modern computers regularly crash and our cell phones keep hitting dead zones.
Will a 12 Monkeys type virus wipe us out? Na, we can always use time travel to go back and find a cure.
7. Global Warming/Cooling
While Waterworld and The Day After Tomorrow may make us say "no" to plastic, we'll ultimately survive by counting on survival techniques learned in Scouts and Guides. You were a Guide or Scout right? Oh, crap.
8. Geomagnetic Screw-up
In The Core, Earth's magnetic field becomes messed up and everything goes wrong. For most of us, that's just another Monday.
9. Deep Impact
If Armageddon proved anything when it comes to a deadly impact with an asteroid, it's that America will save us all.
10. Solar Activity
The sun attacks us in the movie 2012, but what we really should be keeping an eye on is that sneaky, no good moon.
Wrong, wrong and wrong
Since the beginning of time, expiry dates have been hand stamped on the world.
If it wasn't heralded by the first clap of thunder over our hairy ancestors it's now being forewarned by the melting of icebergs in the North.
But as humans, we suck at accurately predicting our end-times.
Here's a list of some of the notorious dates we lived through.
Around 2800 BC: An unearthed Assyrian clay tablet reportedly talked about humanity coming to a speedy end. But the writer expired long before the world.
634 BC: Romans fear their city will fall after 120 years.
389 BC: Having gotten it previously wrong, Romans figure the real date is around 389 BC: Wrong again.
First Century: Some followers of Jesus believe he will return to Earth soon after his death.
247: Thanks to Roman persecution, many Christians believe the end is upon them.
365: Hilary of Poitiers predicts an end to humanity.
Easter Eve, 793: The Bishop of Toledo writes about end-times panic, after a Spanish monk prophesises doom and gloom.
800: Multiple learned sources predict Doomsday.
806: Another bishop pegs this date as the real eve of destruction.
1000: Some researchers say panic sweeps across Europe as the dawn of a new Millenium arrives. Others argue most people aren't even aware of the date.
1184: More than a few prophets believe the Antichrist will arrive on this date.
1284: Again religious leaders get the date wrong for the arrival of the Antichrist.
Feb., 1420: A Czech prophet marks this date as the end of days.
Feb. 1, 1524: London astrologers pick this date as Doomsday -- heralded by floods in the city. An estimated 20,000 people leave their homes in panic.
1532: After getting reports of bloody crosses in the sky next to comets, a Viennese bishop says the end is nigh.
Oct. 19, 1533: A mathematician gets his numbers wrong by calculating this will be Judgement Day.
1532, 1544, 1801 and 1814: A French astrologer tries to even the odds by picking four different end-of-world dates. All are wrong.
Around 1555: Influential French theologian Pierre d'Ailly figures the world will come crashing down at this time.
July 22, 1556: A rumour swirls that our would will end on "Magdalene's Day." But everyone lives another day to brood and worry.
1584: Astrologer Cyprian Leowitz predicts another end of everything.
1603: Year Dominican monk Tomasso Campanella said the sun would ram into the Earth.
1656: Physician Helisaeus Roeslin foresees mankind going up in a blaze.
1657: Date believed by many to signal the Apocalyptic battle and the defeat of the Antichrist.
1689: A Camisard prophet predicts Judgement Day will take place in this year.
1694: Cultists leave from Germany to America in the hopes of greeting Jesus back to Earth. They are not happy campers when He doesn't appear.
1700: Puritans believe this will be the true date of man's ultimate destiny.
1982: The year of a Grand Conjunction, when the planets line up. Some believe it is a clear mark of disaster. Though the year did give us Eye of the Tiger by Survivor, so perhaps it did signal humanity's decline.
Jan. 1, 2000: The 'millenium bug' is supposed to cause a massive computer meltdown. Planes are supposed to fall from the sky and even your TV cable is in peril.
Jan., 2000: An American Christian group picks this month for global economic chaos.
Believe it or not...
Winter Solstice on December 21, 2012 -- precisely at 11:11 AM Universal Time -- marks the completion of the 5,125 year Great Cycle of the Ancient Maya Long Count Calendar.
And for those who believe it, marks the end of the world.
countdown to doomsday