The potential end of the world on December 21, as predicted by the Mayan calendar, has generated a mixture of different reactions from people.
For some the famous date is an excuse for a party, others are simply treating it as another day, while one group of people - known as 'preppers' - have been stocking up on supplies in expectation of the apocalypse.
Now British authorities, in a bid to quell fears of doomsday, have issued light-hearted advice on how best to respond to the potential crisis, such as installing a fire alarm and listening out for weather forecasts.
End of the world? Opinion is divided about an apparant Mayan prediction that the world will end on Dec 21
On it’s website, NASA has posted the following explanation for why the world won’t end on December 21, 2012:
Contrary to some of the common beliefs out there, the claims behind the end of the world quickly unravel when pinned down to the 2012 timeline.
The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012 and linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice in 2012 - hence the predicted doomsday date of December 21, 2012.
The world will not end in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than four billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.
The deadpan advice comes with less than two weeks to go until the date of the apocalypse, according to some interpretations of the Ancient Mayan calendar.
It follows an official US government blog this week, which described the prediction that a planet is on a crash course with Earth as 'just rumours' and insisted that 'the world will not end on December 21, 2012, or any day in 2012'.
What form annihilation will take remains the topic of hot speculation on the internet, with possible scenarios ranging from a Noah-like great flood to a rogue planet smashing into Earth.
The UK institutions confirmed they had the necessary capacity to deal with any unusual events that might occur and, with tongues firmly in cheeks, put forward some specific suggestions for survival.
A London Fire Brigade spokesman said: 'Fit a smoke alarm on each level of your home, then at least you might stand a chance of knowing that the end of the world is nigh ahead of those who don’t.
'If you survive the apocalypse you’ll be alerted to a fire more quickly should one ever break out.'
The AA advised: 'Before heading off, take time to do the basic checks on your car and allow extra time for your journey.
'Local radio is a good source of traffic and weather updates and for any warnings of an impending apocalypse. Should the announcer break such solemn news, try to remain focused on the road ahead and keep your hands on the wheel.'
An RSPCA spokesman added: 'Luckily for animals, they do not have the same fears of the future - or its imminent destruction - as us humans, so it is unlikely that our pets will be worrying about the end of the world.
'However, should the Mayans prove to be right, our message would be to spend whatever time you have left with your animals wisely.
Lighthearted advice for coping with the end of the world includes fitting extra smoke detectors and listening to weather forecasts on the radio
Ancient signs: The doomsday fears are based on misinterpretations of the Mayan calendar, say NASA
'Take them for a long walk or give them a cuddle. Enjoy every second you have with them as if it was your last!'
Other bodies including British Transport Police and Dorset Fire and Rescue Service confirmed they were prepared for any event that may occur on December 21.
However, one expert offered reassurance that the prediction was a misinterpretation of ancient artefacts.
Professor Mark Van Stone, the author of 2012: Science And Prophecy Of The Ancient Maya, traces the start of the 2012 apocalypse prophecy back to 1904, when German scholars said a Mayan picture of a sky dragon pouring water from above proved they were predicting a great flood.
Other predictions then made it into subsequent academic books on the Maya and soon became enshrined in popular mythology.
The RSPCA has recommended spending quality time with pets should a Mayan prophecy about the end of the world come true on Dec 21
Prof Van Stone, who teaches art history at Southwestern College, California, said the speculation comes down to a few inscriptions that indicate the Ancient Mayan calendar has been counting down since 3114BC and will hit zero on December 21.
He told the Press Association: 'The Maya indicated there was a 5,000-year cycle that ended on a creation date. Scholars, and eventually everyone else, inferred that when the calendar reached that date again in 2012 that it would stop.
'When I started writing my book, I thought that I would find evidence to support the scholarly idea that the clock would actually stop this time. It seems very reasonable. But in fact I found no evidence the Maya ever thought that. I found several examples that suggest the opposite.'
When the calendar reaches zero on December 21 it will just restart, according to Prof Van Stone.
He added: 'I say this to people who are believers: Okay, have a great time, I’ll see you in 2013.
'The Maya did not predict any end. The Maya expected the future to go on for ever. So don’t worry.'
NASA scientists say fears about the impending end of the world are based on misinterpretations of the Mayan calendar
Numerous websites and Facebook groups promoting the Mayan prediction and providing so-called evidence can be found online.
A small French village called Bugarach has been earmarked by some as the only place to go to guarantee surviving the apocalypse.
The December 21 apocalypse is not the first prediction and it is unlikely to be the last, if Prof Van Stone proves correct.
The countdown to the millennium was awash with fears that the Y2K bug would send computer systems into meltdown with devastating consequences.
Such was the uncertainty over what would happen when the clock struck midnight that then president Bill Clinton signed into law the Y2K Liability Bill to help businesses prepare.
Then there was American pastor Harold Camping, who predicted Armageddon not once but twice last year. Yet both May 21 and October 21, 2011 passed without incident
LOL Trevor. In other words any kind of scenario goes!
Kiss kitty goodbye then!