Though nearly every scientist says the sun will rise on December 22, some people are holding their breaths that Friday could be the apocalypse, because the ancient Mayan calendar ends after December 21, 2012. But predicting the end of the world is nothing new: There have been dozens of previous apocalypse predictions; here's a list of some of the most notable doomsday predictions that gave people a scare, or at least a chance to throw an end of the world party.
May 21, 2011: If the hubbub over the supposed Mayan apocalypse seems familiar, it's because predictions made by radio host Harold Camping last year got some media traction. According to Camping, about 3 percent of the world's population would be "raptured," with the rest suffering through several months of worldwide earthquakes and the ultimate destruction of the earth on October 21. When that didn't happen, Camping "humbly acknowledged" his mistake.
Camping also predicted the world would end in September, 1994 and March 31, 1995.
October / November 1982; April 29, 2007: Popular Southern Baptist minister Pat Robertson predicted in 1976 that the world would end in October or November of 1982. After that didn't happen, he tried again a decade later—in his 1990 book The New Millennium, he said the world would be destroyed on April 29, 2007. Turns out he was wrong again.
Jan. 1, 2000: No one was quite sure what would happen at the end of the millennium—some doomsday prognosticators, including Jerry Falwell, said God would end the world at the turn of the century. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, who wrote the extremely popular Left Behind novels about the rapture, also believed the world would end in the year 2000. Others merely worried about the Y2K computer bug, which ultimately didn't cause many problems.
1980; April 29, 1987: Leland Jensen, head of a sect of the Persian religion Bahai, took his followers into nuclear fallout shelters in 1980, claiming there would be a nuclear holocaust. That didn't happen, but he was undeterred: In 1985, Jensen predicted that Halley's Comet would enter Earth's orbit on April 29, 1987 and cause earthquakes before ultimately crashing into the Earth and killing everyone.
Jan 1, 500; Jan 1, 1000: Predicting the end of the world isn't just a recent phenomenon—early Christians predicted that the world would end on the first day of the year 500. When that didn't happen, others thought it would occur in the year 1,000.
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Jason Koebler is a science and technology reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.