PHOENIX - The song, "It's the End of the World as we Know it," was made famous by the American rock group R.E.M. in the late 1980s, but as it turns out, the end of the world has been on its way for centuries.
It seems as humans we jump at the chance to predict our own downfall. Thankfully, no one seems to be very good at it. In the last 2000 years, there have been more than 150 failed prophecies.
Our doomsday journey begins in Pompeii in 79 A.D. At that time Mt. Vesuvius erupted. It set the city on fire and buried it in the ashes. Roman philosopher Seneca had predicted the Earth would go up in smoke, but not this time.
In 1910, Halley's Comet passed incredibly close to the Earth, causing widespread panic. A French astronomer and others said the comet's tail contained a gas that would destroy all life on earth. Yeah, that one didn't happen either.
Another apocalyptic fail? The Heaven's Gate cult in 1997.
"You're only chance to evacuate is to leave with us," said Founder Marshall Applewhite on a recorder videotape.
He believed the earth would be wiped out and preached that suicide was the way to escape to the next life through a UFO, courtesy of the Hale-Bopp comet. His 39 followers poisoned themselves in one of the worst mass suicide's in U.S. history.
In 1998, another cult leader Hon-Ming Chen preached that God would appear on Channel 18 of every television set in America, marking doomsday. When it didn't happen, he told his followers they could crucify him. They politely declined.
Many predicted failures in machines and technology during the Y2K scare, leading up to the new millennium. That didn't happen either.
If anyone knows about our 4 billion year old Earth, it's the folks at NASA, and they're not worried, so looks like the only thing December 21 will bring is the Winter Solstice. On the bright side, the fear-filled day is the shortest of the year.