The world is set to end with neither a bang nor a whimper, but an academic conference. The approach of the millennium has spawned apocalyptic studies programmes, books and multi-disciplinary courses at US universities from coast to coast, combining history, religion, literature, sociology, psychology, science and other disciplines.
"This is a hot field," said Richard Landes, director of the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University. "It's at the intersection of academia and the larger culture, and it's right under our noses."
But Dr Landes is prepared for the event to be a bit of a wet blanket after all. He has already scheduled the centre's conference for spring 2002. The topic: "Disappointment over the Millennium."