According to the ancient Maya, the world is going to end on December 21. Until recently, I wasn’t much bothered: I hadn’t made any plans for the New Year anyway. But now that the evidence is stacking up, I’m starting to think more seriously about heading for the nearest magic mountain and hunkering down with some baked beans and a shotgun. Consider these five portents of doom:
1. The North Koreans have released photos of a successful rocket launch into space, which confirms our worst fears: they’ve finally mastered photoshop. But, seriously, we have to admire the North Koreans for their remarkable persistence. This is a country that can’t feed itself and its only source of entertainment is a theme park that visitors have only a 1 in 3 chance of surviving. Yet it’s determined to put a satellite into space. What for? Are they so desperate to get access to Sky Movies and reruns of Seinfeld? Whatever the rationale, it’s unlikely that the North Koreas satellite will spark World War 3. But don’t be surprised if the hamster powering it gets a dose of vertigo and it crashes back down to Earth, killing us all.
2. UFO sightings are up, although only in parts of America populated by drug-addled hippies. On December 3, a flying saucer was spotted in Brooklyn and on December 9, a “ballet of lights” was seen in San Francisco. Mr Barrios, who filmed the San Francisco sighting, says, “I am 100 percent sure this was a UFO.” Alas, he was also 100 per cent sure that he drank a lot of Tequila that night, and the consensus is that the alien invasion he witnessed was actually a parade of Chinese floating lanterns. Nevertheless, keep watching the skies!
3. Everybody’s got Great Ark fever. Dutchman Johan Huibers has completed a 20 year challenge to build a replica of the Great Ark, following instructions laid down by God in Genesis. Amazingly, it works, although Huibers has made some adjustments. The ark contains plastic rather than real animals and it probably wasn’t part of God’s original plan to include two cinemas and a restaurant. Meanwhile, archaeologist Robert Ballard claims to have found proof that the Great Flood really happened, along with evidence of a submerged ancient culture. Actually, this isn’t as batty as it first reads – there’s a consensus among many world historical traditions that a large proportion of the Earth was covered in water at some point. The question is, will he find the Great Ark? And will it have two cinemas and a restaurant?
4. NASA has denied that the Armageddon is coming, which makes me suspect that it almost certainly is. If the Obama administration issues a statement to the effect that everything’s okay and there’s no need to panic, that’s your cue to head for the hills. And if America is suddenly submerged by 100 feet of water, the mainstream media will be on hand to remind us of the things that really matter: Mitt Romney once put a dog on the roof of his car and Sarah Palin’s kids are getting divorced.
5. Right now an enormous asteroid is flying terrifyingly close to the Earth. Yep, that’s right – the very thing that the crazy New Age people warned would happen … is actually happening. RIGHT NOW. We are reassured that there will be no impact, but I love that Fox News throws in this fascinating counterfactual: “Toutatis would cause catastrophic damage if it ever did slam into Earth. In general, scientists think a strike by anything at least 0.6 miles wide could have global consequences, most likely by altering the world’s climate for many years to come.” Finally, we shall have an answer to “Whatever happened to global warming?”
On a serious note, it’s fascinating how the Maya prophecy has turned us all into fortune tellers. The science pages of many websites are filled not with stories about science but stories about magic: Vatican astronomers, underwater civilisations, mystical mountains and little green men. It proves that for all our supposed commitment to “reason”, we remain sky god worshipping cave men at heart. One in the eye for Richard Dawkins, I feel.
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