A trembling fraction of most people believes - or wants to - that the Mayans were on to something. In fact, so pestered has the American space agency NASA been on the subject of their apocalyptic prediction (21st December's the date), they've set up a simple FAQ. It's called, soothingly, "Beyond 2012: Why the World Won't End". Here's what it says...
" Question (Q): Are there any threats to the Earth in 2012? Many Internet websites say the world will end in December 2012.
Answer (A):The world will not end in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.
Q: Is there a planet or brown dwarf called Nibiru or Planet X or Eris that is approaching the Earth and threatening our planet with widespread destruction?
A: Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an Internet hoax. There is no factual basis for these claims. If Nibiru or Planet X were real and headed for an encounter with the Earth in 2012, astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be visible by now to the naked eye. Obviously, it does not exist. Eris is real, but it is a dwarf planet similar to Pluto that will remain in the outer solar system; the closest it can come to Earth is about 4 billion miles.
Q: How do NASA scientists feel about claims of the world ending in 2012?
A: For any claims of disaster or dramatic changes in 2012, where is the science? Where is the evidence? There is none, and for all the fictional assertions, whether they are made in books, movies, documentaries or over the Internet, we cannot change that simple fact. There is no credible evidence for any of the assertions made in support of unusual events taking place in December 2012."
So that should clear things up. But conspiracy theorists might not be so easily dissuaded; this is, after all, the same lot who claimed we took a rocket to the moon in 1969.