Times the World Ended

2012 Maya Apocalypse

This one is the most famous in the past few decades. They even made a movie about it, fun, but not great. It all began with the Mayan calendar. It showed the end of the first “Great Cycle” on December 21, 2012. Of course, conspiracy theories rose to argue some cataclysm would hit and somehow the Mayans knew about it. One of the most amusing was the imaginary planet, Nibiru, and its collision with Earth. 2012 came and went and we are still here.


Our ancestors must surely have also been terrified when the year 1000 came. it is safe to say we were not much brighter. People were afraid our computer systems would crash because they would not be able to process the year 2000. There were special insurance policies relating to possible damages. Add to this a total solar eclipse in August 1999 and the recipe for panic was complete.

Halley’s Comet

Every 75–76 years we can see Halley’s Comet pass by our planet. Of course, here we have another reason to panic. French astronomer Camille Flammarion was one such scientist. In 1910 he convinced people the comet would kill every living creature on Earth. There were reports of mass hysteria, people selling and buying anti-comet pills and gas masks. Master Yoda said: “Luminous beings we are”. Indeed we are.

The Chen Tao Movement

No such list would be complete without at least one doomsday cult. The concerning part is there were quite a lot of choices. Chen Hong-min called himself a prophet and created a cult in Texas. He said that on March 31, 1998, God would appear and take them away in spaceships disguised as clouds. However, since we are not in Stargate, Cheng is still here with us. At least he would admit his predictions were nonsense.

Creating a Black Hole

Science often seems to scare people. So, it comes as little surprise that in 2008 before the Large Hadron Collider opened theories ran amok. Some thought that it could lead to the creation of a black hole which would end-up swallowing up the Earth. The fact that scientists said that any black holes would be small and disintegrate immediately probably did not help ease minds. However, none of us has yet turned into spaghetti, so we are probably safe.

The Millerites

Now we look at another doomsday cult, but from the 19th Century. This was by no means a new phenomenon. During the 1840s William Miller began preaching that the world would end with the Second Coming of Christ and that it would be engulfed by flames. This was supposed to happen sometime between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844. At least he was not too adamant on a precise date and gave himself some space to wiggle. The most amusing part of the story is that around 100,000 people believed his prophecy and sold all of their belongings. And this is the origin of the Seventh-day Adventists. Rebranding done correctly after an aborted apocalypse.

The Great London Fire of 1666

Sometimes ideas of the world ending come from real-life terrible disasters. We end our list with one such example. On September 1666 a fire broke in London and raged on for three days. By the time it finally died out there were around 13,000 buildings destroyed, nearly the entire city. Somehow, luckily only ten people were recorded as dead. While the world did not end then, the fact that ‘666’ was seen by Christian as the number of the Devil, surely did not help. However, as you may know by now, London was rebuilt and is now facing something far worse, gridlock.


It sometimes seems to be in our nature to panic in the face of the unknown. This can be either due to a comet, some scientific experiment or simply the future. During such moment we can be irrational and some individuals might think of themselves as prophets. So, maybe, it would be wise that at times we take a small break, a deep breath and think about things more calmly.



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