The end of the world as a professor knows it

Like May 21, 2011, Vacker predicts Dec. 21 will be a fairly ordinary day.

The world isn’t going to end on Dec. 21, despite what the Mayans did (or didn’t) predict. Our fascination with stories about the end of the world isn’t going to disappear, either.

These stories have been told since Plato wrote about the destruction of an entire continent in “Atlantis,” says Barry Vacker, associate professor of media studies and production at Temple University’s  School of Media and Communication. Today, movies like “Armageddon” and “Melancholia” prove that the fascination continues. “What all of these various scenarios have in common is that they pose the question: ‘What if?’ Whether it’s bioterrorism, global warming or a meteor, people like to think about what might happen and how we might react,” says Vacker.

Some of the scenarios are ridiculous and unlikely, but others are more realistic. These fact-based scenarios are intended to explore human behavior and make an argument for how we should act as a unified species, not how we should act as individuals. “Examining what would happen if we continue burning fossil fuels or use nuclear weapons can serve as a warning,” Vacker says.

Vacker’s latest book, “The End of the World — Again: Why the Apocalypse Meme Replicates in Media, Science, and Culture,” will be published later this month — and it’s likely sales won’t be hurting. “In the past year, NASA has spent $4 million looking for near-earth objects,” Vacker says.

“Compare that to the $550 million the American public has spent for tickets to ‘Armageddon.’”

If you go

   

Vacker will be participating in a three-evening celebration marking the predicted end of the world at PhilaMOCA (531 N. 12th St.) Dec. 19-21. Events include panel discussions,  apocalyptic film screenings and an end of the world party — with a countdown.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Monday is the deadline to register for Pennsylvania…

If residents want to vote in the May primary, which includes a vote for a new City Council member, today is the deadline to register.

National

Miss America thinks school should reconsider discipline of…

A Pa. student was suspended for asking Miss America to prom.

Local

Aria Health Torresdale workers caught selling prescription drugs

Two Aria Health at Torresdale employees were fired amid accusations they sold prescription drugs out of the Northeast Philadelphia campus.

National

Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter died Sunday from prostate cancer…

Former U.S. professional boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who spent 19 years in prison for murder and then was released after it was determined he did not get a fair trial,…

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

NHL

Ray Emery steps up in Flyers’ Game 2…

Sure, he allowed two goals in the Rangers’ first four shots Sunday afternoon, but it’s about how you start, not how you finish.

NHL

Flyers come from behind, even series with Rangers

The Flyers overcame a two-goal deficit to get a much-needed win at Madison Square Garden Sunday.

MLB

Phillies get set for four against the Dodgers

The Phillies will face tough starting pitching out west against the Dodgers this week.

MLB

Phillies notebook: Cole Hamels returns this week

The Phillies should receive a big boost when Cole Hamels returns during the Dodgers series.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.