Apocalypse how: Your guide to handicapping the end of the world

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nukebig.jpg
As you've certainly heard by now, the world is ending tomorrow. Thanks to infallible Mayan prophecies and/or calendar design, we know the whole shebang comes to a hard stop on December 21, 2012. What our helpful future-seeing friends didn't see fit to tell us is how the world ends. Sure, you could argue it doesn't matter -- dead is dead, after all -- but the fact remains that, damn it, we want to know. Since we don't have the powers of prognostication that our long-gone Mayan pals did, we have to rely on our usual methods of figuring stuff out: drawing on years of pop-culture consumption and filling in any holes in our knowledge with a trip to Wikipedia.

That done, we've assigned odds to the various doomsday scenarios, in case you're the betting type -- although you're going to need to survive to collect and money will be useless in the post-apocalyptic wasteland, anyway. Maybe you can place your bet in canned goods and toilet paper?

See also:
- H.P. Lovecraft: A horrifying crash course
- The zombie apocalypse across America
- Jesus vs. Bono documentary looks at last non-pocalypse in time for next apocalypse

Method of destruction: Fire
How that's going to work: For centuries, the debate was whether the world would end in fire or ice, so that's where we'll start too. These days, experts agree, if the world is going to end in fire that means one thing: global thermonuclear war. Those of us who lived through the '80s, or at least saw War Games, know how this one works. Somehow, either we or the Russians or the Chinese launch our nukes, probably by mistake as the result of some sort of computer simulation gone awry. The other side(s) see them on the radar and instantly launch their own, lest they be left out of the party, and boom. Or more like BOOM. Everything is incinerated or irradiated and there's no more joy in Mudville. Or anywhere else.
What it's going to look like:

(Only less '80s)
Why that probably won't happen: Are we even technically enemies with China and Russia these days? We're all like frenemies or something, right? So for this to happen requires some sort of super-hacker gone rogue, or worst luck ever, or maybe that Ikea monkey getting its hands on the launch codes. Either way, pretty unlikely.
Odds: 50 to 1

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