There is a somewhat wideheld belief that the end of the Mayan Calendar – December 21, 2012 – will be the end of the world as well. Sure, it could be just another “doomsday” prophesy tossed out there, but there are quite a few interesting coincidences.
First, December 21, 2012 is the winter solstice. It is well known that the Mayans were advanced mathematicians and astronmers, so this might not be quite so coincidental. It should also be noted that there is an eclipse of the sun scheduled for November of 2012 – while not matching up exactly, the timing of celestial events with the ending of the calendar can be considered interesting. Some scientists also believe that when the Mayan Calendar finishes, it will simply start again for its second cycle with no apocalyptic ending to the world.
So, if the world is going to end, how will it happen? The prevailing theory seems to have to do with the Earth’s magnetic fields. This basically states that either the Earth’s magnetic field will reverse all at once, or that the Earth will slowly stop spinning, sit “still” for a few days, then begin spinning the opposite direction. The result of reversing magnetic fields are very very bad – mass flooding and earthquakes kind of bad. This theory is supported by the sunspot cycles of the sun which seems to be heading for a climax around 2012.
It has been proposed that the Earth occassionally reverses magnetic fields – the last of which theorized as having occrred around 780,000 years ago. It’s a bit difficult to say this with any degree of accuracy however, and until we actually witness (if?) this, it is just a theory.
Perhaps more interesting is the apparent dates of other “doomsday” prophecies – most notably Revelations. The 7-year Apocalypse is apparently scheduled to happen starting December 21, 2008, and run to 2015. So you’ll want to clear your calendars for that. While the exact date of the Apocalypse is never explicitly given, this site/book is interesting in that it takes a scientific approach moreso than a strictly religious one. Naturally, Nostradamus weighs in, but he’s been predicting disaster for how many years now – and considering his predictions run until around A.D. 3797, I think it’s safe to say that he’s not banking on the world ending.
Yet another popular argument to support this end of the world scenario is to look at past advanced civilizations. The Mayans essentially disappeared, the Romans and Egyptians eventually fell, and did Atlantis really exist? We can certainly consider our current state of advancement to be at least on par with what our ancestors were, so are we due for a regression as they were?
In the end, there’s really no way to know about this until it happens – sure, you can build that bunker and stockpile it with canned goods, but you’ll probably just end up wasting a bunch of time and money. As a final note, you should take everything above with a boulder of salt.
NOTE – This site details quite of bit of the 2012 doomsday predictions – assuming your eyes don’t burst from it, if you’re interested in this it’s a great resource.