Since exploding both birtherism and 2012ism has been so much fun this week, I went looking for more crackpot conspiracy theories to bust. I found an interesting though not particularly deep resource in the website Armageddon Online, which hosts summaries of a wide variety of possible causes of our extinction, from the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy to the creation of a nearby hypernova.
While digging around just now, I found a page detailing the doomsday prophecies of noted apple tree afficionado and inventer of physics, Isaac Newton.
Based on his reading of the Book of Daniel, Newton predicted the end of the world would occur in the year 2060. This may come as a surprise to the 2012'ers, who are already geared up for the big day next year, as well as the followers of Harold Camping, who have the apocalypse penciled in for next month.
Reading the Armageddon Online summar of the Newton prophecy, two things jump out at me as noteworthy, and also funny as hell. First, this quote from Newton's original letter containing the prediction:
This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail. So, you know, don't think that just because the guy is saying the world is going to end in 2060, that the guy is saying the world is going to end in 2060. He's just a little sick and tired of everybody and his brother coming out with their own bullshit predictions and constantly demonstrating to anyone paying attention that Biblical prophecy is a crock of shit.
How did he get to 2060, I wonder. Did he just pick a date he knew was far, far beyond the lifespan of anyone of his time, hoping that people would stop anticipating the end and get on with their lives? How'd that work out?
The second thing that stands out is this quote from Newton, where he defines the margin of error of the 2060 date:
It may end later, but I see no reason for its ending sooner. "The world shall end in the year 2060 and not one moment before! . . . Though quite possibly a great deal after." Nothing more thrilling than a bold prediction.