“Two years ago, I got a question a week about it,” said NASA scientist David Morrison, who hosts a website called Ask an Astrobiologist. “Now I’m getting a dozen a day. Two teenagers said they didn’t want to see the end of the world so they were thinking of ending their lives.”…

According to Rosemary Joyce, a professor of anthropology at UC Berkeley, the Maya never predicted anything. The 2012 date is approximately when the ancient calendar would roll over, like the odometer on a car; it did not mean the end — merely the start of a new cycle.

Some authors have tried to merge that idea, Joyce said, with Maya mythology that said the Earth had gone through multiple ages of creation, each ending in a disaster. “But there’s no prediction,” she said. “They did not predict the end of the world.”