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Apocalypses Through History

The world has been supposed to end ... a lot

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Crazies may be on the street shouting about this or that, but it's nothing new. It takes but a cursory Googling to learn that the end has always been nigh. It doesn't seem like so much as a single decade can pass without someone scaring the bejeezus out of everybody with predictions of the end of the world.

Here is a selection of some of history's greatest apocalyptic whiffs.

634 BC

Many Romans believed that Romulus, the city's founder, had been visited by 12 mystical eagles, and that each one represented 10 years of the lifespan of the city. The year 634 marked the 120th anniversary of Rome's founding and, therefore, the year in which it would come to an end. And yet, Rome is still standing.

247 AD

The Roman crackdown on Christianity became so intense that it led many Christians to believe the violence was in fact the end days.

375-400 AD

St. Martin of Tours wrote: "There is no doubt that the Antichrist has already been born. Firmly established already in his early years, he will, after reaching maturity, achieve supreme power." That meant the world would most certainly be done by the year 400.

992 AD

It was widely believed that the Antichrist would come when Good Friday coincided with the Feast of the Annunciation in this year, and that the end would follow within three years.

1200 AD

Joachim of Fiore, an Italian mystic, began his rolling series of predictions that the millennium, an era of peace and harmony that would come before the apocalypse, would begin. Joachim started with the year 1200. Then when that didn't happen, it became 1260. Then after his death, his followers, the Joachimites, revised that to 1290. Then 1335. Then 1378.

1346-1351 AD

The Black Plague was interpreted by many as the end.

1658 AD

Long-dead explorer Christopher Columbus was right about the existence of America, but wrong about the date he believed the world would end: 1658, 7,000 years after it was created in 5343 BC.

1666 AD

Christians believed the presence of 666 in the date signaled the end of the world.

1719 AD

Mathematician Jacob Bernoulli predicted a comet would destroy the Earth.

1780 AD

Smoke from forest fires and fog combined with an already cloudy day to turn the skies dark, convincing residents of New England the end had come.

1806 AD

The Prophet Hen of Leeds began laying eggs bearing the words "Christ is coming." But it turned out that the hen's owner was writing on the eggs with ink, then shoving them back in the chicken.

1814 AD

Self-described prophet Joanna Southcott said she would give birth to Jesus on Christmas. Instead, she died on that day. The 64-year-old was not pregnant.

1853-1856 AD

It is commonly believed that Crimean War is the battle of Armageddon. It is not.

1892 AD

Pyramid researcher Charles Piazzi Smyth claimed the dimensions of the Great Pyramid of Giza made it clear the second coming was nigh.

1910 AD

French astronomer Camille Flammarion said the coming of Halley's Comet wasn't exactly the apocalypse per se, but it might destroy all life on Earth.

1954 AD

Cult leader Dorothy Martin claimed a flood was coming and that her followers would be rescued by a UFO. Shortly after it didn't show, Martin received a message from the aliens that God spared the world because of the good work done by the group.

1969 AD

Charles Manson ordered a series of murders to jump-start the apocalyptic race war. It didn't work out exactly like he planned.

1982 AD

Right-wing televangelist Pat Robertson said the world would end in October. Or November.

1987 AD

Baha'i leader Leland Jensen claimed that Halley's Comet would crash into the Earth on April 29, 1988.

1991 AD

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan Muhammad Sr. said the Gulf War might actually be Armageddon.

1994 AD

Neal Chase, a Baha'i leader, said that a nuclear bomb would destroy New York, followed by the battle of Armageddon 40 days later.

1994 AD

Family Radio evangelist Harold Camping predicted the Rapture would come in September of that year. Then Oct. 2. Then March 31, 1995. Then twice in 2011.

1996 AD

Sheldan Nidle, a psychic from California, said 16 million space ships would come to Earth and bring the end.

1997 AD

Thirty-nine members of the Heaven's Gate Cult committed mass suicide so that their souls could gain access to the spaceship trailing comet Hale-Bopp, instead of being destroyed in an imminent apocalypse.

1998 AD

God's Salvation Church leader Hon-Ming Chen said that God would arrive on Earth in a flying saucer and then appear on channel 18 of all American TV sets.

2000 AD

Many people believed that the world would either end or all technology would shut down, creating global chaos at the turn of the millennium.

2003 AD

Wisconsin woman Nancy Lieder said that the brain implant she received from aliens told her that they would realign the Earth's poles, killing most of humanity.

2007 AD

Televangelist Pat Robertson again wrongly predicted the Earth's destruction.

2008 AD

A number of people become convinced that the Large Hadron Collider would birth a black hole that would consume the Earth.

2012 AD

The end of the Mayan calendar--though more of it was discovered this year--causes many to believe that the world will end this year, though theorists are unclear on how. It makes for a very mediocre film with John Cusack.

2060 AD

This was the year Sir Isaac Newton, the founder of physics and one of the greatest minds in history, predicted the millennium would begin.

2240 AD

The year that marks 6,000 years since the creation of Adam in Orthodox Jewry, which is the time when the messiah will come. The world may end within 1,000 years of that happening.

3797 AD

The year Nostradamus ran out of prophecies, causing some to believe the world will end then.

500 Million AD

The year the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will make Earth uninhabitable, according to geoscientist James Kasting.

5 Billion AD

Approximate date the sun is predicted to swell into a red giant and absorb the Earth.

10 to the 100th power years

The predicted date for the heat death of the universe.

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