Here are reasons why the world just might end in a few days....
1. The Plague Bird: flu and swine flu gave us a fright in years past, but the real plague could be released upon the world any minute. Scientists have reconstructed the DNA microbe of the bubonic plague, aka the Black Death, in the hope of figuring out what made it so very powerful. The New York Times reports that a lab recently grew a H5N1 flu virus, "one of the most dangerous flu viruses ever known, and made it even more dangerous — by tweaking it genetically to make it more contagious."
2. Mayan Calendar: The ancient Mayan calendar (combined with a dash of New Age mysticism) has predicted that on December 21, 2012 the world will end — and even John Cusack won't be able to stop it. The occasion will be marked by the return of Quetzalcoatl, a Mesoamerican feathered serpent god, which is a nice consolation prize.
3. Solar Flares: While NASA says that there is no real danger from this year's possible solar flare-ups, others believe that the solar storm could completely disable the world's satellites and electronics. As astrophysics Alexei Dmitriev so succinctly explained when asked what the result of the storm could be, "Global catastrophe!"
4. Harold Camping's Rapture: He was wrong twice last year, but that doesn't mean he wasn't onto something. Fringe religious leader Harold Camping predicted that the Rapture would occur in May of 2011 — eventually "corrected" as October — based on his biblical calculations. We've all made mathematical errors in our lives, it's possible Camping simply forgot to carry the one.
5. Worldwide Market Collapse: We've recovered (kind of) from the crash of 2007, but there's nothing stopping us from having another, even bigger crash. On his website, London Loves Business, market analyst Clem Chambers recently predicted that both the U.S. and U.K. markets will crash in 2012. Will this be the final crash that breaks the world's back and throws us back into the dark ages?
6. Nuclear War: Let's face it: America has a lot of enemies — many of whom have nuclear warheads. While the most likely man to set off some bombs, Kim Jong Il, is now deceased, that doesn't mean someone even crazier won't take his place as the world's most dangerous lunatic this year. Like half the Iranian government...
7. Super Volcanoes: Yellowstone National Park is a beautiful place to explore, full of fantastic flora and fauna. It also happens to be perched on top of one of the world's largest supervolcanoes. Over the past few years, this volcano has gradually shown more activity, as The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory notes. Currently, the volcano is classified as within the historical norm but it's also well overdue for an eruption. The eruption of this or any supervolcano could cause another ice age.
8. It Was All a Dream: Taking a hint from "Waking Life" or the end of many a cheesy television episode, we entertain the possibility that our world and everyone on it are simply part of another being's dream. When that great alarm clock in the sky rings, it's all over for us.
9. Aliens Attack: Scientists are discovering more and more evidence of life on other planets. While the current examples are closer to single-celled amoebas than blaster-wielding lizards, there is no telling when our celestial neighbors will pay us a visit. Whether they'll bring muffins or lasers is as yet uncertain.
10. God Particle: Fear has surrounded the Large Hadron Collider, an enormous machine that examines miniscule atoms, ever since it was switched on. New York Times science writer Dennis Overbye theorizes that if the Higgs boson (aka the God particle) was found it would ripple back in time and "stop the Collider before it could make [a Higgs boson], like a time traveler who goes back in time to kill his grandfather." One kinda simple way for it to avoid being created would be to prevent the earth from being created.