This is, of course, only the nerdiest of the many implausibilities depicted in the film. But the movie created enough buzz that NASA started getting mail about it. Yeomans told The Australian: “The agency is getting so many questions from people terrified that the world is going to end in 2012 that we have had to put up a special website to challenge the myths. We have never had to do this before.” NASA has a special section on its website, “2012: A Reality Check”, and has even created its own video about it. In the video, Yeomas laboriously debunks the “2012 myth,” and explains that his only plan for December 12, 2012 is to “lay in an extra supply of egg nog.”As absurd as the movie is, public fear about the “2012 phenomenon” is even more so. The film’s trailers, which ended by encouraging audiences to search the web (“Find out the truth: Google search 2012”), must bear part of the blame – but so must the hordes of overheated Googlers who hurtled into NASA’s inbox. Perhaps they’re the cataclysm we ought to be worrying about.
Signs of the imminence of this apocalypse were plentiful. A series of famines, ruined harvests, and freezing winters in the 1570s and 1580s indicated that God Himself was withdrawing His warmth from the earth. Smallpox, typhus and whooping cough swept through the country, as well as the worst disease of all: the plague. All four Horsemen of the Apocalypse seemed to have been unleashed: pestilence, war, famine and death. A werewolf roamed the country, conjoined twins were born in Paris, and a new star – a nova – exploded in the sky. Even those not given to religious extremism had a feeling that everything was speeding towards some indefinable end.