The fear that the world would end on Dec 21, 2012, caused by an apparent wrong interpretation of the Mayan Long Count Calendar, has created a loud buzz in the scientific and religious spheres.
Doomsday scenarios are actually not new to mankind, with one of the first apocalyptic fear caused way back in 79 AD when the eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried the Italian city of Pompeii. The volcanic ash spewed by the volcano appeared to be a fulfillment of the prediction of Seneca, a Roman philosopher, that the Earth would go up in smoke.
For the 20th and 21st centuries, Voxxi has compiled eight top end-of-the-world predictions that definitely went kaput. Non-believers in the Mayan calendar Armageddon scenario believe that by Dec 22, the roster would be included as the ninth entry.
1. Halley's Comet - 1910
National Geographic reported that people panicked more than got excited with the 1910 appearance of the comet because of speculations that its tail has a gas that would hit the atmosphere and possibly kill all life form on Earth, which was a prediction of French astronomer Camille Flammanon.
2. Christ's Kingdom prophecy by Jehovah's Witnesses - 1914
The religious sect, which counts millions of members, was established in the 1870s and predicted that Christ's kingdom would come to earth in 1914, reports from the Los Angeles Times said. The sect made a similar prediction for 1975 and again failed, prompting this commentary.
3. Pat Robertson - 1982
A popular televangelist, Pat Robertson was quoted as uttering the following prophesy in his TV program The 700 Club: "I guarantee by the end of 198s there is going to be a judgment on the world" which was supposed to be followed by seven nightmare years of suffering. He made another Doomsday warning in 2006 and in 2008 predicted a stock market crash in 2010. He was off a little bit off for the latter since the global financial crisis happened in 2008.
4. Heaven's Gate Cult -1997
The cult was founded by Marshal Applewhile, who said the Earth would be wiped clean by aliens and transport souls of Heaven's Gate members to the next life via a UFO that would ride the tail of the Hale-Bopp Comet. The North County Times reported that 39 cult members took their life on March 26, 1997 at a mansion in San Diego, California, considered one of the worst mass suicides in the U.S.
5. True Way Taiwanese Cult - 1998
This cult was established by Hon-Ming Chen in Taiwan. Their beliefs were a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism and UFO conspiracy theories. Chen forecast the appearance of God at an American cable TY show on March 31, 1998. In anticipation of the Rapture, Chen moved his cult to Garland, Texas because of the God Land sound of the Texas town. Visa problems caused members of the cult to return to Taiwan, but they turned down an offer by Chen to crucify him for his failed prediction.
6. Y2K - 2000
A 1984 column warned of global chaos because of a computer calculation error that would fail to recognise the date 01-01-00 based on the use of two digits to represent the year in computer settings. The technical glitch was combined with a religious tone over expectations of Jesus Christ's second coming, timed with the start of a new millennium. New software and hardware solved the problem, although those with older computers did not experience crashes due to the Y2K bug.
7. Big Bang from the Large Hadron Collider - 2009
The Telegraph reported that there was a growing fear that an experiment by CERN in Geneva, which aimed to have hadrons or subatomic particles collide, could cause a black hole and risk the Earth's destruction. Although independent scientists attempted to stop the experiment through a lawsuit in 2008, the experiment pushed through and created temperatures a million times hotter than the sun's centre, but there was no observed significant damage to the planet.
The last red-faced end-of-the-world prophet was Harold Camping, a radio preacher who based his Judgment Day prediction on May 21, 2011 to use of numerology based on Bible readings. Camping, 89, a retired civil engineer, apologised for his gaffe, admitting lack of new evidence to back his claim.
Because of the frequency of these apocalyptic predictions, many people view the Mayan calendar brouhaha as another hoax, even as some businesses are raking it in by organising end-of-the world parties or jacking up the prices of accommodations in areas supposed to be Armageddon-proof, particularly Bugarach in France, Mount Rtanj in Serbia and Sirince in Turkey.
Many, however, would likely be spending 12-21-12 doing their last-minute holiday shopping because when the sun rises the next day, it would just be four days to Christmas Day!