Over the last few years, ostensibly because of the Mayan calendar which ends this time cycle in 2012, there has been a curious mix of New Age philosophy, odd astronomical notions, and biblical interpretations that predicts the end of our world that fateful year.
The people pushing this notion like to say the Mayans were extremely advanced astronomers. First, predicting the future in this way by looking to the heavens is not astronomy. Second, the Maya were advanced astronomers in their historical context; they do not rival our astronomers. Our guys and gals are happily planning observing programs beyond 2012. They see no reason to think the world will end that year.
Why the notion of the end of the world in our lifetime has any appeal is a question certainly well beyond the scope of this little blog. Is it an expression of the fear of death? Does it derive from a feeling that life has been a disappointment, so why not end it across the board? Are people who are attracted to the notion that the world will end with them simply so self-centered that they can't imagine the world without them?
Scientists say the Earth, barring some unlucky and unlikely catastrophe, still has hundreds of millions of good years left. Go with that.