By Harold Maass
Many Americans are confident that the world isn't really going to cease to exist on Friday, Dec. 21, the day of the supposed Mayan apocalypse. Still, plenty of people around the world are taking precautions ahead of the day when the Mayan calendar ends and, the theory goes, so does life as we know it. Here, a look at some of the unusual happenings, by the numbers:
Members of the "Almighty God" Christian cult in China who have been arrested for pestering people with warnings about the Mayan apocalypse
Consecutive days of natural disasters the cultists are telling people will begin on Dec. 21
Theories LiveScience found explaining exactly how life on Earth will be snuffed out. We'll be toasted by a massive solar storm; Earth's magnetic poles will flip-flop catastrophically; Planet X (a non-existent "rogue planet") will smash into us; the planets will align in a way that ruins everything (NASA says no planetary alignment is coming, and we've survived past ones); or, there will be some kind of massive global blackout, possibly due to an unprecedented alignment of Earth and Sun (again, NASA says, no).
Cost of fiberglass survival pods being sold by a Chinese furniture maker
Price of a fancy margarita — made with DeLeón reposado tequila, Grand Marnier 100 year, agave nectar, and real gold flakes — being offered by Iron Cactus, a Mexican grill in Austin, for people planning to drink like there's no tomorrow
Percentage of Americans who believe the end of the world really is upon us
Percentage of people in the world who think the planet will be destroyed in our lifetime
Police officers who will be turning visitors away from Bugarach, a French village near a mountain peak where, rumor has it, alien spacecraft will emerge on the last day and rescue everyone nearby
Population of Bugarach
Number of cameras that will be broadcasting the (potential) action live, from space. The Slooh Space Camera is designed to help the public watch for the arrival of mysterious, deadly planets, giant tides, blackouts, and other potentially (and literally) Earth-shattering phenomena.
Days in the current cycle, the 13th Mayan bak'tun, that ends on Friday.
Years the Mayan calendar actually continues after this week, according to David Stuart, a professor of Mesoamerican art at the University of Texas at Austin. It simply enters a new cycle. Westerners are the ones who came up with the doomsday theory. "The Maya never said anything about the end of the world or anything about a great change in the universe on that date," Stuart said.