“Doomsday Clock” displays a symbolic countdown to a man-made apocalypse scheduled at midnight. The clock first featured on the cover of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists issue in 1947 and has been “ticking” ever since.
It gets periodically adjusted by the Bulletin’s scientists depending on the global events related to nuclear weaponry, wars, and climate change. Climate change was first taken into account for the Doomsday clock’s ticking in 2015.
This year, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists publicly announced that the clock was 3 minutes to midnight. The group explained that the new time on the clock was reflecting the group‘s concerns about “unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals.” The scientists also added that those issues posed extraordinary threats to “the continued existence of humanity”.
The situation was as grim as today in 1984 when the U.S. and the Soviet Union shut down any channel of communication, while nuclear arm control negotiations were reduced to plain propaganda.
This week, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists chose to take away two minutes from the Doomsday clock because global warming and nuclear weapon proliferation seem to have gone out of any control.
The clock was designed in 1947 by artist Martyl Langsdorf who was married to physicist Alexander Langsdorf, a former nuclear scientist involved in the Manhattan Project. (The Manhattan Project was a scientific research project led by the U.S. which produced the first atomic bombs during the World War II.)
When she first release it, Ms.Langsdorf set the Doomsday Clock at 11:53 p.m. due to nuclear dangers; two years later, in 1949, her husband sets the clock at 11:57 p.m. after a Russian nuclear test aimed at intimidating the U.S. during the Cold War.
Since 1947, the Bulletin’s scientists have been moving the Doomsday Clock’s minute hand back and forth to draw attention on planetary crises that could result in a man-made apocalypse.
In 1953, according to the Bulletin’s board, humanity was at its closest point on the edge of self-destruction when the U.S. tested its first thermonuclear weapon. That year the clock was at 2 minutes to midnight.
Seven years later, the clock was set at 7 minutes to midnight because “for the first time, the United States and Soviet Union appeared eager to avoid direct confrontation in regional conflicts,” according to the Bulletin.
In 1981, after the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and Ronald Regan’s election, the Bulletin sets the Doomsday Clock 4 minutes closer to midnight.
In 1990, when the Berlin Wall fell and ex-communist countries were broke free from Soviet control, the clock was 10 minutes to midnight.
However, the most optimistic times were recorded in 1991, when the Cold War was declared officially over: 17 minutes before midnight.
Image Source: Mirror