The Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world on December 21, 2012. I mean, it must be true; there are hundreds of web sites asserting imminent apocalypse. And just wait till you see the forthcoming movie. If you are not getting ready for doomsday, you are missing the boat -- er, ark. At the very least, don't bother doing your Christmas shopping in 2012.
And then there's the Large Hadron Collider, warming up -- or I should say, "cooling down" -- near Geneva. Once it gets up to speed, which could conceivably take another three years, it's going to create microscopic black holes that will suck the Earth into oblivion. I mean, it must be true; I read it on the internet.
Put two and two together. On December 21, 2012, we all go down the cosmic tube.
But wait, maybe not all!
Doomsday is deeply ingrained in human psychology. Stories of apocalypse have been stock in trade for religious prophets since time immemorial, and, lately, for writers of science fiction. I wrote a novel about the end-of-the-world that was expected in the year 1000 A.D. In virtually all doomsday stories a chosen few survive to become the germ for a new creation.
When the biblical deluge subsided, Noah's sons and their wives repopulated an emptied world. In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil, the world-tree, survived apocalypse to bear Lif and Lifthrasir, the parents of a new human race. Christians look forward to a New Jerusalem that will rise from the ashes of the present world's destruction. In the film 2012, apparently a few plucky souls ride out the tsunamis that engulf the planet. As for my novel -- well, you'll have to read it to find out.
The stories are endless, the theme universal. So who will escape the LHC's world-gobbling black hole? And how can we ensure that the survivors include we happy few on the porch?
Meanwhile, as we ponder Armageddon, the world goes on, the planets whirl in their ancient tracks, the galaxies spin, and the Sun rises each day in a blaze of goodness and life -- this life, so delicate and precarious and fine.
The internet notwithstanding.