We survived the failed Mayan Apocalypse of 2012, but that doesn’t mean we are out of the woods when it comes to the end of the world.
There are a number of theories that point to doomsday occurring as soon as 2013. Others range from 2038 to 2040, to some unknown date, when solar flares could disrupt our way of life and cause society to crumble into chaos.
While most doomsday theories are ascribed to lunatics or charlatans who want to exploit society’s fear that the world is coming to an end, there is one reliable source – NASA – that predicts major complications on earth in 2013.
The space agency says solar storms are a real threat to the Earth, and that such a storm may be coming our way in 2013.
"The sun is waking up from a deep slumber, and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity,” Richard Fisher, head of NASA’s Heliophysics Division, predicted in 2010.
A solar storm would unleash havoc never before seen. Picture all electronic communications being disrupted; airplanes falling from the sky; cars crashing into one another; hospital patients hooked up to machines that cease to operate.
It’s all possible, and we are getting closer to predicting when solar storms will hit. If we know when a solar storm is coming, just like we can forecast the weather, then we can prepare.
"Space weather forecasting is still in its infancy, but we're making rapid progress," said Thomas Bogdan, director of the National Oceanic and Atomospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center, in Boulder, Colo.
Even if we were to survive a catastrophic solar storm, there are other doomsday scenarios we may have to face.
In 2000, we survived the dreaded Y2K computer threat -- but a similar doomsday theory is out there: the 2038 Bug.
“In the first month of the year 2038 C.E. many computers will encounter a date-related bug in their operating systems and/or in the applications they run. This can result in incorrect and grossly inaccurate dates being reported by the operating system and/or applications,” said William Porquet, an IT systems administrator, who set up the Project 2038 website to help solve the issue.
Porquet said the problem is easier to fix then Y2K, but the consequences would be disastrous if there is failure.
“Starting at GMT 03:14:07, Tuesday, January 19, 2038, I fully expect to see lots of systems around the world breaking magnificently: satellites falling out of orbit, massive power outages (like the 2003 North American blackout), hospital life support system failures, phone system interruptions (including 911 emergency services), banking system crashes, etc.,” Porquet said on his website. “One second after this critical second, many of these systems will have wildly inaccurate date settings, producing all kinds of unpredictable consequences. In short, many of the dire predictions for the year 2000 are much more likely to actually occur in the year 2038!”
Suppose the bug is fixed. It still doesn’t mean the world isn’t coming to an end. Just two years later, in 2040, doomsday may finally be upon us.
The end of the world may be caused by the comet AG15 that scientists project will collide with the Earth in 2040; however, the space object has a 1 in 625 chance of hitting us.
“In 2012, AG5 is the object which currently has the highest chance of impacting the Earth in 2040. However, we have only observed it for about half an orbit, thus the confidence in these calculations is still not very high,” said Detief Koschny, an official from the European Space Agency’s Solar Systems Mission Division.