Doomsday Clock


“The Doomsday Clock is a symbol that represents the likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe. Maintained since 1947 by the members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the clock is a metaphor for threats to humanity from unchecked scientific and technical advances. The clock represents the hypothetical global catastrophe as midnight and the Bulletins opinion on how close the world is to a global catastrophe as a number of minutes or seconds to midnight, assessed in January of each year. The main factors influencing the clock are nuclear risk and climate change. The Bulletins Science and Security Board monitors new developments in the life sciences and technology that could inflict irrevocable harm to humanity. … The Doomsday Clock’s origin can be traced to the international group of researchers called the Chicago Atomic Scientists, who had participated in the Manhattan Project. After the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they began publishing a mimeographed newsletter and then the magazine, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which, since its inception, has depicted the Clock on every cover. … ‘Midnight’ has a deeper meaning to it besides the constant threat of war. There are various things taken into consideration when the scientists from The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists decide what Midnight and ‘global catastrophe’ really mean in a particular year. They might include ‘politics, energy, weapons, diplomacy, and climate science’; potential sources of threat include nuclear threats, climate change, bioterrorism, and artificial intelligence. Members of the board judge Midnight by discussing how close they think humanity is to the end of civilization. In 1947, at the beginning of the Cold War, the Clock was started at seven minutes to midnight. The Clock’s setting is decided without a specified starting time. The Clock is not set and reset in real time as events occur; rather than respond to each and every crisis as it happens, the Science and Security Board meets twice annually to discuss global events in a deliberative manner. The closest nuclear war threat, the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, reached crisis, climax, and resolution before the Clock could be set to reflect that possible doomsday. … The Doomsday Clock has become a universally recognized metaphor. According to the Bulletin, the Clock attracts more daily visitors to the Bulletin‘s site than any other feature. Anders Sandberg of the Future of Humanity Institute has stated that the ‘grab bag of threats’ currently mixed together by the Clock can induce paralysis. People may be more likely to succeed at smaller, incremental challenges; for example, taking steps to prevent the accidental detonation of nuclear weapons was a small but significant step in avoiding nuclear war. …”
Wikipedia
W – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
W – Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

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