Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2060: The Next Great Apocalypse?

There's a long - not necessarily "proud" - tradition of apocalyptic predictions throughout history. Witness the Millerites, who believed the world would end first in 1843 and then in 1844, or turn the page back to 1999 and look at some of the more hysterical guesses of what Y2K would turn out to be like. Today, the armageddonoids are expecting the world to end in 2012, and so it's no surprise that Roland Emmerich, one of the minds behind the horribly armageddonist The Day After Tomorrow, would capitalize on this by scourging the world in the film 2012.

It's hardly a surprise that this movie was made. It's been nearly ten years since Y2K, and the lack of anything more significant than website calendars clicking over to January 1, 19100 has left an apocalyptic vacuum. As we enter the 2010s, I think it's pretty much a certainty that we'll see more and more 2012er armageddonoids working themselves up into frenzies over "the end of the world," and more and more "apocalyptic entrepreneurs" cashing in on the phenomenon. December 21, 2012 might end up being a rather interesting day no matter what happens.

Come January 1, 2013, though, what's going to happen? History has shown that armageddonoids aren't strangers to the concept of a delayed apocalypse - the Millerites, for example, stood by their leader even after the first prediction of the Second Coming fizzled. I'm sure that some "astrologer" or "clairvoyant" or another will predict destruction and doom pretty much every year afterward, but there's one in particular that may well end up being the same kind of lightning rod that 2012 is today - 2060.

I'll be the first to admit that by the time 2060 actually rolls around, the world may well have far more serious problems than worrying about apocalyptic predictions for that particular calendar. Nevertheless, the human willingness to believe that the end is near and accounts will be settled is a strong one, and when people have a reason to believe that these forewarnings of doom are more rigorous than the predictions of astrologers, they'll probably pour that much more faith into it. 2060 is particularly vulnerable to that, as the date was established by none other than Sir Isaac Newton - probably the most widely-known scientist other than Albert Einstein.

And if a scientist said it, you know, it's got to be true.

Newton's writings of the end of the world didn't come to light until 2003, when previously unpublished papers were unearthed indicating that Newton had "calculated" that the apocalypse would start no earlier than 2060, a figure which he arrived at through Biblical references. Newton also wrote that the apocalypse would happen no later than 2344, but I don't expect people to pay much attention to that. One of the great scientists of history, the man who "discovered" gravity, says the world might will end in 2060. That's good enough for them!

Fortunately, we've got a long way to go before phrases like "NEWTON WARNED US" start appearing on billboards and posters. Come the 2050s, though, unless the world has degenerated and civilization is on the brink, I expect there to be people going on and on about how the end is almost at hand and we need to use our remaining time to get right with everything.

Actually, now that I think about it, if civilization was on the brink that would only give even more credence to the idea that Newton Was Right After All.


  1. Nice. I hate 2012. But you know, the whole apocalypse thing isn't a "human" trait - it's a product of the Judeo-Christian world view. Here in the east, no one gives a FUCK about 2012 or even knows what the apocalypse is. It's awesome!

  2. The only problem with that statement is that 2012 isn't based on a Judeo-Christian prediction, but rather a Mayan one.

  3. Well, if you look, theyre several different sources which point to 2012, still crap, but theyre out there.