mayanstatue_ap.jpg
A Mayan statue stands in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, where people will gather before making their way across the Yucatan Channel, to the Cozumel Island, in a ten mile pilgrimage in honor of the Mayan goddess Ixchel. The Mayan calendar ends on Friday, Dec. 21, which many predict will be the end of the world. (AP Photo/File)

Are you ready for the end of the world?

I'm not sure if you've heard anything about this, but the world is supposed to end Friday. I'm assuming most of you have had 12-21 marked for years now -- to get ready for the end of the Mayan calendar.

What's with our fascination with the end of the world?

People have been predicting the end of the world for as long as people have been making predictions of any kind. Experts say the fascination comes as an expression of our own mortality. We realize our lives will end so the world's life must also end.

Mark Markuly is the dean of theology at Seattle University. He said most of the predictions throughout history have come during times of great oppression, world strife or world transition.

"If our world is collapsing and ending in some way as we've known it, it's really a short step when you're under a lot of stress to kind of project that the whole world is ending," he said.

Early Christians predicted the Second Coming of Jesus almost yearly as they dealt with persecution. In times of war, or slavery, or great disease, these predictions are quite common. They also pop-up in relation to astrological events like planetary alignments.

There were so many question about the end coming on Dec. 21 that NASA took questions from the public about the possibility. NASA scientist David Morrison actually made a video debunking most of the predictions.

"The widespread rumors that there will be a catastrophe or even a doomsday on Dec. 21 are wrong," he said. "This is simply a big hoax. It will be a day just like any other."

When the world doesn't end Friday, Dean Markuly says another prediction will quickly take its place.

"My assumption is that there will be another recalibration. And if not, someone else will concoct another revelation they have or a vision predicting it ending at a certain time," he said. "This isn't going to go away."

There are already some predictions for next year. Massive solar storms are expected in 2013. Some experts are already predicting a global disruption in communications and electricity throwing our world into chaos.

But consider this as you make your plans for Friday: Even the descendants of the Mayans don't believe the world is going to end on Dec. 21.


Chris Sullivan, KIRO Radio Reporter
Chris loves the rush of covering breaking news and works hard to try to make sense of it all while telling stories about real people in extraordinary circumstances.
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