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All quiet on the Rapture front

A prediction that the world will end at supper time on May 21 has some trying to warn others about "the end." NBC's Kerry Sanders reports on what believers and skeptics think about the prophecy.

In some parts of the world, it's already Sunday — and there hasn't been any sign that the end of the world was starting as predicted. But you already knew that'd be the way it went down, didn't you?

For years, Family Radio preacher Harold Camping has been telling his flock that the Rapture would gather up 200 million Christian believers to heaven and kick off five months of tribulation for the rest of us, heralded by a massive earthquake. Can you imagine the panic that might ensue if a significant quake actually did strike today? There's always a chance of that, of course. But as it turns out, the day has been relatively quiet in seismic terms.


Readings from the U.S. Geological Survey have turned up only a few quakes worthy of any note around the world, and nothing anywhere near major. If you check the USGS' chart of seismic activity, the blue squares denote quakes that have occurred over the past 24 hours, and the red squares stand for tremors in the past hour. The size of the square represents how big the quake was ... and there are no big squares.

USGS

This chart from the U.S. Geological Survey traces earthquakes stronger than magnitude 4.5 throughout the world over the past week, as of 11 a.m. ET Saturday. Yellow squares denote quakes up to a week ago, blue squares denote quakes up to a day ago, and red squares are quakes in the previous hour. The strongest quakes have been slightly higher than 5 in magnitude, which is in the normal range for those regions.

There's no word yet from Camping, and his followers are likely still hunkered down wondering if the end will come. But other folks are starting to go about their business, which is a good thing.

On the Cosmic Log Facebook page, correspondents around the world are voicing a sense of relief. One woman writes, "Jesus Himself said that no one would know the day or hour, but only His Father in Heaven. Besides, I'm getting married today at 3:00."

Best wishes to the bride ... and to all of you.

Noel Celis / AFP - Getty Images

A passenger jeep on a street in Manila, the Philippine capital, drives past a banner that reads "Judgment Day 21 May 2011." The day passed without incident in the Pacific.

Update for 7:30 p.m. ET: A couple of fairly significant seismic events were recorded later in the day, including a 5.8 quake in Japan and a 5.8 quake in New Zealand's Kermadec Islands. These happened to occur on Sunday as reckoned by local time, and on Saturday according to GMT. None of the events could be called Rapture-worthy unless Camping and his followers end up grasping at straws.

More about the Rapture rumblings:


Even though Saturday is already finished with in some parts of the world, I'll still be blogging about the Rapture hype until the day is totally finished, and probably even longer. You can follow the updates by checking CosmicLog.com/Rapture. You can also connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page or following @b0yle on Twitter. And for something completely different, check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.