December 21, 2012 will be the end of the world, according to an ancient Mayan prophesy, and the myth has seen thousands of people gather at ancient sites in Central America and elsewhere across the globe, in anticipation of Doomsday.
December 21, 2012 is, according to some, the end of the "long count" calendar of the Mayan civilization. According to the calendar, Friday will mark the end of a 5,125 year cycle, which has been interpreted by many to herald the end of the world.
However, despite the panic among many thousands, the Vatican's chief astronomer has suggested that people should not anticipate any kind of Armageddon on Friday.
Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, the director of the Vatican Observatory, has written an editorial in the Vatican's official daily newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano. The front page of the paper led with a headline, "The end is not nigh – at least for now."
Funes wrote, "In the media and on the internet there is a great deal of talk of the end of the world, which the Mayan calendar supposedly predicted for Dec 21. If you do a search on Google, you get 40 million results on the topic."
He also highlighted the fact that Christians believe in the fundamental faith that "death is not the last word."
Funes has also in the past been open to the existence of extraterrestrials. In a 2008 interview he said it is possible that there could be life on another planet in the solar system, but he insisted even if that were so these aliens would still be God's creatures. He added that to dismiss the possibility of alien life would be to underestimate God's creative powers.
Meanwhile, some of the world's top scientists at NASA have also agreed with the Vatican on the issue of Doomsday. NASA recently released its Mayan Apocalypse video early, ahead of its scheduled release date – showing how confident it is about proving the Dec. 21, 2012 Doomsday prophesy is false.
NASA has very publicly rebuked the Doomsday predictions, and has gone about proving why that date will not signify the end of the world.
A video created by NASA explaining why the world "did not" end on Dec. 21, was originally scheduled to be released on Dec. 22 – the day after the predicted apocalypse. Apparently makers wanted everyone to wake up the morning after and realize nothing had happened and look to the video to explain why.
However, so confident is NASA that its "The World Didn't End Yesterday" is correct that the four minute video has been put out ahead of time.
The video explains how the idea of the Mayan Doomsday prediction for 2012 first came about, and how it is a huge hoax.
One commenter on YouTube has joked, "The correct title for this video is 'Told Ya So! - Love, NASA."
According to Time Magazine, NASA has been inundated with people enquiring whether the world really is about to end on Dec. 21. Such is the demand for an answer, that NASA has taken the widespread fears of the end of time seriously. Although the scientists at NASA believe there is absolutely no danger of the world ending in just over a week's time, they do fear that a widespread panic about the end of the world could spark irrational and potentially dangerous actions from people.
NASA has even released an official statement on its website to announce that the world will not be ending in 2012: "The world will not end in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012."
Furthermore, NASA claims the predictions are a hoax: "The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012 and linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice in 2012—hence the predicted doomsday date of Dec. 21, 2012."
NASA has said that there is no official record of the planet Nibiru, but that if this supposed planet was on a collision course with Earth they would have seen it for at least the last decade and have been extensively tracking its path. NASA also has said that by now, just a week before the supposed impact with Earth, "it would be visible by now to the naked eye."
Watch NASA's video on the Mayan 2012 Apocalypse "Why The World Didn't End Yesterday" below: