Among the Apocalypse: April Fools Edition

Among the Apocalypse: April Fools Edition

Benjamin Jensen, Columnist

We know about many points in history where the world almost ended. Either by nuclear war, or a natural disasters, but has there been a time where people have made April Fools jokes over the end of the world? There is no shortage of people having fun in causing a panic over something that isn’t true, especially if it’s the end of the world.


April 1, 1940

On March 31, 1940, astronomers made an announcement on KYW radio that the world will come to an end on April 1st at 3 PM Eastern Standard time. This announcement was quickly speculated as a stunt by the public, and other scientists. When April 1st came, nothing happened. In fact, not a lot of people were surprised because two years prior to this event, there was a panic over a Martian invasion. Known as the “1938 War of the Worlds Panic”, broadcasts from radio stations stated that Martians are coming to earth. This sparked mass panic as people were packing their cars to flee. Of course, the broadcasts were fake. The broadcasts were an over dramatized version of H.G. Wells’ story, The War of the Worlds


As can be expected, the radio station issued an apology for the joke, after police stations and Philadelphia’s Information Bureau received hundreds of calls from frightened civilians. The radio station refused to accept responsibility for the joke. Before when the announcement was made, a man named William Castellini, a press agent for the Franklin Institute, wanted to give the station the announcement in hopes to promote a lecture on April 1st titled, “How Will the World End?”. He thought the radio station would already know that it was a stunt; however, many people in the station thought it was genuine news. Castellini was then dismissed from the Franklin Institute, putting an end to the joke.