“Phew,” said Jack as he sat down, “we made it through another apocalypse.”
I said. “what do you mean?”
Jack said, “haven’t you been following the news?”
I said “you know better than that – no TV, no newspapers – I live a serene and quiet life, unencumbered by the maxi-media, and not bothered by the vicissitudes and vagaries of the world at large.”
Jack said, “I know, but surely someone must have told you that the world was coming to an end on 21 December. The Mayan prediction…”
“Off hand,” I said, “from the available evidence, I would deduce that the event didn’t transpire. Lucky for us. Did anyone really believe the end of the world was nigh, as they say?”
“Apparently quite a few people did. I gather someone figured out that the only safe place to be was some mountain top near a small village near the Pyrenees in Southern France.”
“So what happened?” I asked.
“Nothing much,” said Jack. “The government called in a lot of police to make sure there were no riots or other altercations, but that was about it.”
“So,” I said, “when’s the next doomsday?”
“I’ve been checking,” said Jack. “2017 seems to be a likely target for the four horsemen’s arrival. And then 2020, September 28th, in fact.”
“That’s my brother’s birthday. An apocalypse would throw a bit of a pall over the party. But maybe it’s a false alarm again.”
“Very likely,” said Jack. “I mean there have been prophecies about the end of the world from Roman times. Probably even before that. There were Babylonian astronomers, and they must have made predictions; that’s why you had astronomers, after all. The year AD 1000 was supposed to be particularly susceptible to instant conflagration. During the Middle Ages, comets were often thought to be harbingers of the final destruction of the world. I guess the real end of the world will come as a result of some big cosmic event, like a huge asteroid slamming into earth, which, by the way, has an increased probability of happening in the next 10,000 years.”
“Why in the next 10,000 years, rather than in our time?” I asked.
“The earth is close to the edge of the Milky Way Galaxy, but it is not in a stable position. From what I’ve read it moves up and down with respect to the plane of the Milky Way. As it approaches the plane, there are more asteroids, and that increases the chances of a collision. Right now we are quite a distance from the plane, but we’re working our way toward it. So watch out! On the other hand, there’s the risk of the sun blowing up, or blacking out. According to some scientists that will happen in about 5 billion years, But we won’t be around,” predicted Jack.
Sjef Frenken is a renaissance man: thinker, writer, translator and composer of much music. A main interest, he has many, is setting to music the poetry, written for children, during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Nimble of mind, Sjef is a youthful retiree and a great-grandfather. Mostly he's a content man, which facilitates his relentless multi-media creativity.
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