Apocalypse now?

Dec. 21, 2012 @ 09:58 AM

If you’re reading this story, that means Dec. 21, 2012, has arrived without the world ending. In fact, it means the only thing significant about Dec. 21 is that it’s the first day of winter.
And no, we don’t mean nuclear winter.
The fact that you’re reading this story also means that when we claim to be a daily newspaper, we mean every day, whether it’s Christmas Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day or Doomsday.
Most of us have nonchalantly laughed off the widespread predictions that the world will end today — c’mon, you know you’ve heard someone joke about it — and nightclubs have tried to cash in on the phenomenon by hosting “End of the World” parties.
Not everyone has been laughing, though. NASA officials report the space agency has been bombarded with phone calls and emails from citizens inquiring about the odds of the world ending today — so many inquiries, in fact, that they created a web page to debunk the story.
“The world will not end in 2012,” NASA states. “Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.”
The doomsday predictions stem from reports that the ancient Mayan calendar ends today — thus indicating the world will end — but NASA explains that the calendar is merely beginning a new cycle, just as Jan. 1 begins a new cycle on traditional U.S. calendars.
Internet hoaxers combined the Mayan myth with elaborate tales of a newly discovered planet — or a meteor or some other type of flaming asteroid — headed for a cosmic collision with Earth. Throw in the viral effect of ever-expanding social media, and you have a rumor ripe for the taking.
That doesn’t necessarily mean doomsday survivalists have been hunkering down in their fallout shelters with hoards of water and beef jerky, but let’s put it this way: They probably decided not to start their Christmas shopping until tomorrow, just in case.
jtomlin@hpe.com | 888-3579