2012 gained the patina of doom with the best-selling 1966 book "The Maya" by Harvard archeologist Michael D. Coe. He noted that the Mayan culture's famously complex "Long Count" calendar simply ends on 12/21/12, speculating that civilization might come crashing down on that date. Other scholars argue, however, that the Mayan calendar would merely flip over like an odometer that reached 100,000 miles.
And then there's counterculture thinker Terence McKenna, whose Timewave Zero theory -- drawing off of elements from the "I-Ching," the teachings of philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, and modern fractal mathematics -- determined that 12/21/12 is, you guessed it, the exact date of a profound change in world. Roughly speaking, the Mayans, astrologers and McKenna are all predicting global doom or the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.
[yahoo movie talk - june 17, 2009, jonathan crow, author]