End of the world: Armageddon or asteroids?

By Carmel Gallagher

Saturday, 21 May is being heralded as the latest date on which the world will end. A US preacher claims to have decoded the Bible and calculated 21 May, 2011 as being 722,500 days from 1 April AD33, the supposed day of the Crucifixion. The figure of 722,500 is significant, as it is achieved by multiplying the three holy numbers; five, 10 and 17 together, twice.

UPDATE: The end of the world failed to pass on Saturday 21 but the US preacher who predicted that date has decided he made a mistake. Now he says the rapture will come on 21 October instead.

We are becoming increasingly accustomed to hearing these predictions as so many different dates have now been heard. However, the Astronomer Royal for Scotland, Professor John Brown thinks the end of the earth is more likely to be due to activity in the solar system.

Please turn on JavaScript.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions.

Fires in the Skies

Professor John Brown, Astronomer Royal for Scotland on the cosmic threats to the planet.

Video credits.

The Jehovah's Witnesses predicted the end of the world several times but have now stopped giving specific dates. Edgar C Whisenant wrote 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be in 1988 - followed up with predictions for 1989, 1993, and 1994.

Due to the film 2012 many of us are familiar with the Mayan prediction of the world ending on 21 December 2012, the end of their current calendar after which they believe the earth will start a new calendar.

The French seer and apothecary Nostradamus is also said to have predicted the end of the world in 2012.

The one thing we can rely upon is that the Sun will collapse in approximately 5 billion years and ultimately end all life on earth.

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.