A prediction by the 17th century mathematician and physicist Sir Isaac Newton that the world would end within the liftime of many of us appears to be gaining some credence among some panic-stricken folk.
Despite history being well-populated by seers, religious leaders, mystics and even a TikTok user who claims to be a time-traveller all claiming to know when human life will cease to be on planet earth, there are people who are taking the particular prophecy of the father of modern science a bit more seriously.
In 1704, Newton said he believed that the world would end in 2060 — leaving us with just 37 years to get our houses in order.
According to a report in the Daily Star, recent surveys suggest that around one person in seven believes the world will come to an end in their lifetime. Newton referenced the Bible and other religious writings to calculate the specific date when the world would end, to be replaced by a kind of “Kingdom of Heaven” on Earth.
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He believed that Jesus would return around this time and preside over the new kingdom for a thousand years. In the English of the period he wrote: “So then the time times and half a time are 42 months or 1260 days or three years and an half, recconing twelve months to a yeare and 30 days to a month as was done in the Calendar of the primitive year.
“And the days of short lived Beasts being put for the years of lived kingdoms, the period of 1260 days, if dated from the complete conquest of the three kings AC 800, will end AC 2060. It may end later, but I see no reason for its ending sooner”.
Stephen D. Snobelen, an expert on the life and times of the astronomer who died in 1727, said scholars had known for years about Newton’s prediction, but that it had only reached public consciousness in recent times.
Predictions of the world’s end have continued to pour in over the years, and still continue today, according to Mr Snobelen. “Curiously, a couple months after the 2060 story broke, Sir Martin Reese, one of today’s leading scientists, published a book entitled Our Final Century, in which he argues that the human race has only a fifty-fifty chance of surviving the 21st century,” he said.
With news stories about war and rumours of more conflicts breaking almost daily, along with threats of a new pandemic, fears about AI and dire warnings of climate catastrophe it is understandable why so many people are beginning to take forecasts of the end of the world more seriously.
Given Newton’s track record on mathematics, physics, astronomy, alchemy, theology and philosophy, many people could be excused for planning not too far into the future — unless they’re fabulously rich and can afford to launch a rocket into space…
“It may end later,” Newton wrote, “but I see no reason for its ending sooner”.
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