Tuesday 23 August 2011

This is the end...

As you've no doubt noticed, there's been precious little activity here for the past few months.

Truth is, real life has repeatedly got in the way of The End is Nigh - since the last flurry of updates I've changed job, moved from north to south, and taken on greater responsibilities in both work and my other hobbies.

I am now forced to admit that the end has come for The End is Nigh, as I simply no longer have the time in the day to devote to producing the magazine or keeping abreast of the many eschatological developments in the world.

It's been a great ride and thank you so much to every single one of my many, varied and talented contributors for their hard work, perseverance and patience. I'm not the easiest editor to work with, but you guys all made The End is Nigh what it is - utterly unique, wonderfully entertaining and a blast from beginning to end.

I'd also like to thank everyone who bought an issue - you made the credit card bills slightly easier to deal with.

Two final thank yous - the first goes to those girlfriends who, over the years, have had to tolerate weeks of me never going to bed, becoming irritable at the smallest of things and swearing endlessly at my computer. The second goes to Paul Scott, who came up with the whole idea in the first place. Thank you, Paul - it's been great :)

So... this is the end.

And, like all ends, it's merely a different kind of beginning.


Mike Molcher

Thursday 30 December 2010

2010: THE END IS NIGH'S Apocalyptic Review of the Year!

2010 has been a remarkable year for apocalypse watchers the world over and The End is Nigh has been here to chart the doomsday depths and navigate the eschatological eddies for you, giving you the low down on the the names and numbers, the saints and sinners, the sects and the scientists who concern themselves with the end of the world.

So here we present our look back at some of our favourite highlights from 2010 - a truly apocalyptic year...

2010 began well for apocalypse-watchers, as the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists nudged their Doomsday Clock a minute further away from midnight.
The group of prominent scientists shifted the clock back to six minutes to midnight - it has been a five to since North Korea's test of a nuclear weapon in 2007. The proximity to midnight denotes how close they feel mankind is to destroying itself with nuclear conflict.
The furthest away from midnight it has ever stood was 17 minutes, thanks to US/Russian nuclear arms treaties in 1991.
Citing "a hopeful state of world affairs," the group said in January that for the first time since World War II, leaders are cooperating in efforts to curb nuclear bomb-making. They also credited the US, particularly President Barack Obama, for a “newfound sense of international cooperation and engagement on the issue of nuclear weapons”.

The year also began with continuing head-scratching by commentators over some seemingly apocalyptic comments made by former governor of Alaska and vice-presidential hopeful, Sara Palin, in an interview with Barbara Walters where she talks about Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip: " I believe that the Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expanded upon, because that population of Israel is, is going to grow. More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead. And I don't think that the Obama administration has any right to tell Israel that the Jewish settlements cannot expand."
Could this, it was asked, signify Palin’s belief in the Christian idea - derived from The Book of Revelation - that the final battle between good and evil will take place at Megiddo in modern day Israel, as discussed in The End is Nigh issue two?
And later in the year, concerns were raised that a potential Palin presidential bid could coincide with claims that the world will end in December 2012 - around the time of the next US presidential election.

More than a year after the jailing of self proclaimed messiah Wayne Bent, the first media were allowed inside his apocalyptic cult’s compound.
Bent was sentenced in December 2008 to 18 years in prison for molesting a young follower. Eight years of Bent's sentence were suspended, making the effective sentence 10 years unless the suspension is revoked.
Even after their spiritual leader went to prison, life continues for the 35 members of the Lord Our Righteousness Church: “Now, while they wait for their messiah to return to Strong City, they look forward to the time God takes them and all Christians off this earth completely.”
Bent’s lawyers have filed an appeal.

As we slowly thawed out after a particularly cold winter, we were warmed to discover that there is an 86 percent chance that Gliese 710 - an orange dwarf star - will plough through the Oort Cloud, a ‘cloud’ of ice and rock that extends some 0.5 parsecs into space from the Earth.
Such an approach would send an almighty shower of comets into the Solar System, forcing us to keep our heads down for a while. And a probability of 86 percent is about as close to certainty as this kind of data can get.
The good news is the chances of Gliese 710 penetrating further into the Solar System, inside the Kuiper Belt, are much smaller, just 1 in a 1000.

And we were given another date for our apocalyptic diaries: Leonardo da Vinci predicted that the world will end on November 1, 4006, according to a Vatican researcher.
Sabrina Sforza Galitzia said the clues were to be found in da Vinci’s Last Supper mural. She claims to have worked out that da Vinci foresaw the end of the world in a “universal flood” which would begin on March 21, 4006 and end on November 1 the same year.

The original prophet of environmentalism, Professor James Lovelock, said in April that despite all his best efforts to warn everybody, it's now too late to try and save the planet.
According to the BBC, he "now believes that we can only hope that the earth will take care of itself in the face of completely unpredictable climate change".

Speaking to Peter Hennessy for the BBC Radio 4 documentary Day One in Number 10, former Cabinet Secretary Lord Butler described how one of the first things the UK’s new Prime Minister, David Cameron, would have to do is personally write four letters, one for the safe of each Trident submarine, to be opened if the home government is destroyed.
"There has to be provision for what happens if the government has been destroyed by a nuclear strike, and somebody has then got to say well we have our missiles on the submarines, out under the seas and what should the commanders of those submarines do.
"And there has to be a plan for what would happen in that situation, and the person to make that plan - and it has to be made in advance because the home government may have been destroyed - should be the person that has been elected as the head of government. So that falls on the prime minister to make."
The cabinet secretary briefs the Prime Minister on the options, and then leaves him alone, in his words, "to do privately, wrestling with their own beliefs and conscience”. They then seal the letters, return them to the cabinet secretary, and they are transmitted to the boats.

Not content with selling more than 60m copies of his apocalyptic ‘Left Behind’ Rapture books, author Tim LaJaye decided to suggest to Fox News that President Obama is the Antichrist - a bestselling US author saying that his country’s president will bring about the end of the world represented a considerable step-up in both the anti-Obama and apocalyptic rhetoric by the American right-wing.

The visit of Pope Benedict XVI, otherwise known as Joseph Alois Ratzinger, to the UK aroused strong views amongst those opposed to the head of the Roman Catholic Church's views on the sexual abuse committed by priests around the world, homosexuality and atheism.
But it’s more as a harbinger of the apocalypse that the Pope aroused our interest. As detailed in The End is Nigh #2 (which is still available for free download) according to the fascinating Prophecy of the Popes, supposedly made by St Malachy and first published in 1595, Benedict is the ‘penultimate pope’. His successor, so the prophecy goes, will bring about the end of the world.

November has possibly been the most apocalyptic month of the year so far.

Dreaded bird flu reared its ugly head for the first time since the last minor outbreak in January 2009, while its compatriot swine flu - the subject of the main feature in the last issue of The End is Nigh - began to re-emerge among populations in the west. Within a month, it would be the cause of renewed warnings of flu epidemics with a rise in deaths as post-scare complacency is blamed.

As the whistleblowing website Wikileaks continued to publish confidential diplomatic US government cables, it was revealed just how much America is concerned that Pakistan may lose control of its own nuclear weapons or engage in conflict with India.

Epidemiologists in Uganda are still not able to identify a disease that has hit 96 people and killed 31 in the northern part of the country.
The disease, the symptoms of which include vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fever, abdominal pain and dizziness, first came to light in November in the Ugandan districts of Abim, Agago, Kitgum and Lamwo in November.
A forty-one year-old man from Wipolo village, Morulem subcounty in Abim district was the first recorded victim. He complained of headache and stomach pain on 2 October and died on 7 October.
According to the ministry of Health, he had attended a party where he reportedly drunk waragi and kwete - both locally made brews - before falling ill, yet other people who drank the same did not fall sick. Five family members who nursed him fell ill and his 12-year-old son also died.
Although more than a third of those affected have died, authorities have said recovery is possible if treatment is sought quickly.
Initial inspections carried out by the Uganda Virus Research Institute and international laboratories such as Center for Disease Control in Atlanta point away from Ebola, Marburg, Rift Valley fever, Lassa fever, Congo Crimean fever or Typhoid fever. However, warnings to people not to touch, handle and eat sick or dead animals suggest authorities are concerned that this may be another case of zoonosis - a disease that has made the leap from animal to human.

But, y'know, at least we discovered that high-pitched crooner and former military man, James Blunt, saved us all from World War III!

Forty billboards sprang up this month around nine cities in the US, claiming that May 21, 2011 will be the date of the Rapture. Fans of Family Radio, a nationwide Christian radio network, paid for the billboards after the network's founder, Harold Camping, predicted the date for the Rapture.
In Camping's latest publication, We are Almost There!, he states that certain Biblical passages point unquestionably to May 21, 2011 as the date of "Rapture", and October 21, 2011 as the end of the world. This is despite already getting it wrong - in his book 1994? he claimed there was a very high likelihood that the world would end in September 1994, although he did admit he "could be wrong".

Any small French town would normally be delighted with a new influx of foreign visitors - but the mayor of Bugarach is less than impressed with the flood of apocalyptic travellers that has engulfed his community.
The population of this farming community in the Aude region of southwestern France - which sits at the foot of the Pic de Bugarach, the highest mountain in the Corbieres wine-growing area - is normally a modest 189, but this is being swelled by thousands of foreigners who are convinced that this sleepy village will escape the end of the world in 2012.
Jean-Pierre Delord, mayor of Bugarach, says rumours are circulating that the village offers shelter from an impending Armageddon.
The claims about the town have become the latest fad amongst apocalypse-watchers who believe that the world will end on 21 December 2012 - an event supposedly predicted by a calendar of the ancient Maya civilisation of Central America.
Many of the visitors believe that a group of aliens is hiding in a cavern in Bugarach's 1,231m mountain and will leave when the world ends and kindly take them with them, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
M. Delord claims that websites in the US are selling tickets for trips to Bugarach: "They are doing some business, and people are already organising visits and prayer and meditation workshops, etc," he told The Telegraph, adding: "This is no laughing matter … If tomorrow 10,000 people turn up, as a village of 200 people we will not be able to cope. I have informed the regional authorities of our concerns and want the army to be at hand if necessary come December 2012."
He said people had been coming to the village for the past 10 years or so in search of alien life following a post in an UFO review by a local man, who has since died. "He claimed he had seen aliens and heard the humming of their spacecraft under the mountain," he said, claiming that several "Ufologists" have bought properties in the mountain's shadow, with a mini-industry of gurus and prayer groups springing up.
The Herald claims the internet is awash with about claims the late President Francois Mitterrand visiting the peak, and mysterious digs conducted by the Nazis and later Mossad, the Israeli secret service. Recently, however, interest in the site had skyrocketed, said the mayor, with online UFO websites advising people to seek shelter in Bugarach as the countdown to Armageddon commences.
But, as we pointed out in October, the idea that the ‘end’ of the Mayan calendar on 21 December 2012 means the end of the world has been roundly debunked.
A new critique, published as a chapter in the new textbook "Calendars and Years II: Astronomy and Time in the Ancient and Medieval World" (Oxbow Books, 2010), argues that the accepted conversions of dates from Mayan to the modern calendar may be off by as much as 50 or 100 years.
Most importantly, it means that 21 December 2012 is a meaningless date - the Mayan calendar doesn’t end then, if it ever indeed does ‘end’ (much the same as my desk calendar only going up to 31 December doesn’t mean the world will end then … I’ll just buy a new one) and therefore there simply cannot be a ‘prediction’ at all.
Not that this will stop the 2012 theorists - not even an explicit refutation by NASA managed that one...

So, that was 2010 - another year that humanity has inexplicably managed to survive in spite of all the predictions that the end was indeed nigh. We're a year closer to the next big apocalyptic date of 21 December 2012, of course, so expect the profile of the biggest diary entry in all armageddon-watchers' diaries to loom larger as 2011 continues and there's Family Radio's prediction of 21 May to look forward to.

And don't forget that if you want more analysis of the end of the world and those predicting it, issue four of The End is Nigh is still available to buy online.

We are The End is Nigh and this has been our apocalyptic review of 2010 - thanks for following us and we wish you a prosperous, safe and above all non-apocalyptic 2011!

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Zoonosis emerges? "Mystery illness" claims 38 lives in Uganda

At least 38 people have died from a mystery illness in northern Uganda. The Ugandan Ministry of Health said the preliminary tests had ruled out ebola, typhoid and several other diseases.

The illness was first reported on 10 November and more than 90 people have been treated for it.

Symptoms which last between two and 10 days appear to include a severe headache and dizziness, leading to diarrhoea and vomiting containing blood - although officials claim "a full recovery" is possible if medical help is received in the illness' early stages.

It is notable that people are being advised "not to eat meat from sick domesticated and wild animals" as it implies they may fear it to be a case of zoonosis - something that we discuss in issue four of The End is Nigh. A zoonotic disease is one that can be transmitted to people from animals and as noted in the Wikipedia page linked above, "of the 1,415 pathogens known to affect humans, 61% are zoonotic". The most famous of these include the devastatingly deadly Ebola virus, Marburg fever, 'bird flu' and, it is believed, HIV.

Thursday 2 December 2010

US billboards claim Jesus will return May 21, 2011

... which, even by the standards of Christian predictions of the Second Coming, is kinda specific.

Forty billboards have sprung up around nine cities in the US, claiming that May 21, 2011 will be the date of the Rapture.

Fans of Family Radio, a nationwide Christian radio network, paid for the billboards after the network's founder, Harold Camping, predicted the date for the Rapture.

In Camping's latest publication, We are Almost There!, he states that certain Biblical passages point unquestionably to May 21, 2011 as the date of "Rapture", and October 21, 2011 as the end of the world. This is despite already getting it wrong - in his book 1994? he claimed there was a very high likelihood that the world would end in September 1994, although he did admit he "could be wrong".

Undeterred, 29-year-old Allison Warden orchestrated the billboard campaign in Nashville, Tennessee. Allison is a volunteer with WeCanKnow.com, a website set up by followers of Family Radio.

Although the exact nature of the Rapture is contested, in its most popular current form it involves Christ returning from Heaven to earth while saved individuals - both dead and alive - will rise up in the air and join him in the sky. A particular favourite of the evangelists in America, it's also the basis of Tim LeHaye's internationally best-selling 'Left Behind' series of novels.

Monday 22 November 2010

Possible Palin presidential poll a sign of impending apocalypse?

A new "political thriller" by one Sheldon Filger has been published, based on a scenario that former Alaskan governor and Tea Party darling Sarah Palin runs for - and wins - the 2012 American presidential election.

We've blogged about Mrs Palin's little girl before, but we're still searching for the fully expected linking of the Mayan end-of-the-world theories and the date of the next US election.

And, if you're in any doubt about the side of the debate that the author comes down on, he leaves a handy hint in the title: SARAH PALIN APOCALYPSE AMERICANA.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

The OTHER Da Vinci Code ... of impending doom!

This has only just popped up onto our radar (it's amazing what random Googling can bring up) but we'd not spotted this insomnia-inducing prediction about the imminent end of the world ...

It has been claimed that the original Renaissance man, painter and polymath Leonardo da Vinci, predicted that the world would end on ... wait for it ... November 1, 4006!

Now, before you start selling your wordly goods, this prediction of impending doom has been made by Vatican researcher Sabrina Sforza Galitzia, who claims 'clues' were to be found in da Vinci’s Last Supper mural.

The central half-moon window, or lunette, above his painting of Christ with his disciples before the Crucifixion contains a “mathematical and astrological” puzzle which she has deciphered, she said.

She claimed to have worked out that da Vinci foresaw the end of the world in a “universal flood” which would begin on March 21, 4006 and end on November 1 the same year. Documents showed that he believed that this would mark “a new start for humanity”, Ms Sforza Galitzia said.

Last year, the Vatican published her study The Last Supper of Leonardo in the Vatican, in which she examined a tapestry of the Last Supper made for King Louis XIII of France, based on da Vinci’s design for his famous mural in Milan.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Planning for Star Wars: space threat experts still watching the skies

With governmental concern focused more on Armageddon of the financial kind over the past couple of years, it may sound like a costly extravagance to talk about asteroid-detection and deflection systems.

The end of the world, however, isn't something that is particularly concerned about whether we can afford to thwart it or not. Thankfully, the issue of global destruction at the hands of a sizeable lump of space rock has not dropped off the scientific radar. Late last month, representatives of the American, Russian and other national space programs met for three days at the European Space Agency's Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany.

Their goal is to put together a Mission Planning and Operations Group (MPOG) to develop a global asteroid threat response. Participants studied several plausible impact scenarios to identify best responses to such an emergency.

Earlier John Holdren, President Obama's science and technology adviser, sent the House Committee on Science and Technology a letter calling for NASA to play a leading role in detecting and deflecting deep-space objects that threaten Earth.

Former Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart attended the Darmstadt meeting and told Space.com that disastrous asteroid impacts "can be prevented ... only, however, if we properly prepare and work together with other nations around the world."

Monday 15 November 2010

Not so beautiful: how high-pitched singer "prevented World War III"

When we read a headline such as Singer James Blunt 'prevented World War III' we become intrigued. And then worried. And then tired. Then hungry. Then back to worried again ...

Singer James Blunt has told the BBC how he refused an order to attack Russian troops when he was a British soldier in Kosovo. Blunt said he was willing to risk a court martial by rejecting the order from a US General.

All jokes about his singing inducing the world's nucler powers into a mutual suicide pact aside, the account by the high-voiced hitmaker who healed a hundred million hearts has even been backed up by British General Sir Mike Jackson, commander of the British forces during NATO operations in Kosovo, who told him at the time: "I'm not going to have my soldiers be responsible for starting World War 3."

"...that sense of moral judgement is drilled into us as soldiers in the British army," said Blunt.


Wednesday 3 November 2010

Hit me baby one more time: asteroid impact calculator updated

It's a dubious curiosity, but have you ever wondered what would happen if a 10km-wide asteroid came out of the sky and slammed down on your city?

Well now you can, thanks to the nicely-updated impact effects calculator, first produced by scientists at Purdue University and Imperial College London in 2004.

By filling in the details of angle, mass, speed and impact site you can get an idea of how devastating - or otherwise - an asteroid impact would be.

After the first go, it's kind of irresistable seeing just how much devastation one can cause ...

Wednesday 20 October 2010

The apocalypse is postponed ... maybe

As discussed in the most recent issue of The End is Nigh, the buzz over 2012 is increasing with every passing day and shows no sign of abating.

However, there's moxed news for those expecting the world to come to an end on 21 December 2012 - it might not happen.

Simply put, the often-unchallenged idea is that because the Mayan calendar comes to an 'end' on this date it means they 'predicted' the end of the world. These amazing prophetic powers didn't *really* do them a lot of favours in the 15th and 16th Centuries, but never let logic get in the way of a good apocalyptic idea.

However, according to Fox News (we know, we know), a new study suggests that not only is the date wrong but that the real date for this 'end' may not be knowable at all!

A new critique, published as a chapter in the new textbook "Calendars and Years II: Astronomy and Time in the Ancient and Medieval World" (Oxbow Books, 2010), argues that the accepted conversions of dates from Mayan to the modern calendar may be off by as much as 50 or 100 years. That would throw the supposed and overhyped 2012 apocalypse off by decades and cast into doubt the dates of historical Mayan events.