Aliens are on their way, the Second Coming is imminent, the Age of Aquarius is dawning, the planets are aligning, and we're all going to die. Sorry to put a damper on your Christmas celebrations, but the end of the world is due, exactly ten years from today, on 21st December 2012.
All these predictions stem from the Mayan calendar, the timekeeping system of an ancient central American civilisation. The Mayan Long Count, as it's called, is a calendar consisting of 5 repeating cycles. In the Mayan calendar there were 20 kin (days) in a uinal, 18 uinals in a tun, 20 tun in a katun and 20 katun in a baktun. I do hope you're following this closely. According to Mayan chronology, the present age started on 12 August 3114 BC and is due to end exactly 13 baktun (5125 years) later on 21 December 2012 - a date otherwise known as 22.214.171.124.0.
As well as being the last date of the Mayan Grand Cycle, 21st December 2012 is also the date of the Winter Solstice, and the exact date (stay awake at the back there) of an extremely close conjunction of the winter solstice sun with the crossing point of Galactic Equator and the ecliptic. In other words, in 2012 the plane of our Solar System will line up exactly with the plane of the Milky Way. This cycle has taken 26,000 years to complete.
As The End approaches in 2012, apparently we will all start to suffer from migraine headaches, tiredness, and flu like symptoms, although heaven knows how we'll be able to distinguish this from the usual excesses of the Christmas party season. Our DNA will be re-programmed, our eyes will become cat-like in order to adjust to the new atmosphere and light, and all newly born children will probably be telepathic at birth. It's clearly not all bad news, then.
Do enjoy the next ten years while you can though, because The End is nigh. It must be true, even the last ever episode of the X Files said so. See you in the 6th dimension then...