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Aberdeen academic discusses 'the end of world' theory

Image caption Some believe the world will end on 21 December

A University of Aberdeen academic is to discuss the fascination with a belief the world could end.

Some believe the world will end on 21 December, the end of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the ancient Mayan calendar.

Professor Bill Naphy will discuss the theory as part of a wider look at the history of predictions of doom.

Café Controversial - A Brief History of the End of the World will be held at Aberdeen's Satrosphere on Tuesday at 19:00.

Prof Naphy said: "People place significance on calendars even though they're a completely arbitrary concept invented by people themselves.

"People think in units and place significance on the end of a year, the end of a decade, the end of a century.

"The Mayan people couldn't even remember why they started the calendar when they did, so to assume that because they decided to measure time in a specific way, that reaching the end of a certain time period has any significance is quite irrational."

'Get nervous'

He will also discuss risk.

Prof Naphy said: "People fundamentally misunderstand risk.

"They get nervous about air travel and assume they are at greater risk than say, getting into the bath or driving in a car because for most people getting on a plane is a relatively rare event.

"However, statistically speaking, air travel is one of the safest ways to get around.

"They say that because a comet hit Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs, there's a good chance it will happen again. What they don't think about is - what are the chances of a comet hitting anything, ever?"

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