Wed
Apr 6 2011 5:17pm

The End Is/Was/Will Be Near!

Take heed, Tor.com readers, the world is ending!

And has already ended, and will end at some point in the future. In fact, if the human race is really bad at anything besides skeeball, it is predicting when the world will end. To make that abundantly clear, Loren Madsen has assembled Pick a Year, a table of years that collects all of the various cries of doom that have piled up over the centuries.

The range covers thousands of years, past, present, and future, and while religious prophecy and cultural mythology make up a significant portion of it—at least one religious figurehead alive today was convinced the world would end in 1952—scientific predictions are also included. A particular rib-tickler is the entry for 2026, when the world’s population was predicted to reach INFINITY by a poorly-written article in a 1960s science periodical.

Click a year to see how the world was supposed to end. The language is cheeky and 2035 is NSFW, but it’s a pretty enjoyable romp through a flurry of averted apocalypses. (How does one pluralize apocalypse? Didn’t Buffy settle this a while back?) The predictions read as a fairly transparent rundown of societal anxieties and fads throughout the centuries. Nuclear destruction crops up after World War 2, new age prophecies begin to appear in the 1960s, and 2000 is chock-a-block with predictions.

If anything, we hope it strikes a note of optimism within you. After all, if the world is always ending, then it’s never really ending, is it?


Stubby the Rocket is the mascot and often random voice of Tor.com. It wishes it could show this website to those “May 11, 2011” doomsayers in the NYC subway. You know, the ones who changed their literature to say a tsunami was coming right after Japan was hit. Stay classy, doomsayers.

5 comments
Seamus Cooper
1. Seamuscooper
Hey, Stubby, I see you make a cameo appearance in 1998! Lookin' good!
Rowan Collins
2. Rowan Collins
Excellent! Of course, if you want to be absolutely sure of getting it right, you'd have to destroy the Earth yourself - see http://qntm.org/destroy for some handy tips...
Michael Burke
3. Ludon
I'll not add to the predictions of the When, but I will make this prediction. When we reach the end, and everybody knows that it will be the end without anything following, there will still be people wanting to photograph or in other ways record the end.
Chuck Holt
4. conspiracytheorywackadoodle
I've been beaming repeated messages into space, saying that all the iron in the planet is free for the first alien force to come here, extract it all, and tote it away. So far, no takers.

And no, I don't have a projected end-of-the-world date yet.

Maybe if I changed it to copper instead of iron...
Sim Tambem
5. Daedos
Then you'll end up with meth-addicted aliens...someone should write a book about that.

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