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This is the Doomsday clock.
It was designed back in 1947 by artist Martyl Langsdorf.
And the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists sets the clock to show how much time we have
left until midnight.
Midnight in this case meaning nuclear armageddon and the end of humanity.
In January 2017, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists revealed that the clock ticked
30 seconds closer than last year to the end of times and cited, among other things,
climate change, cyber security, nuclear weapons and Donald Trump as causes.
At the announcement, executive director of the Bulletin, Rachel Bronson, said there were
two concerns that stood above the rest.
“The first has been the cavalier and reckless language used across the globe, especially
in the United States, during the presidential election and after.
And the second is a growing disregard of scientific expertise.”
Cold war and world conflict have influenced the clock’s time over the years, but disregard
for scientific expertise by global populist leaders, including an American president,
has never been cited as a doomsday factor.
That said, the newest changes to the clock are the smallest in its history, meaning doomsday,
thankfully, isn't necessarily any more imminent.
So how accurate is the Doomsday Clock, and why was it made in the first place?
The “Doomsday Clock” first debuted in 1947 as a graphic on the cover of the first
edition of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ magazine.
Artist Martyl Langsdorf was married to Alexander Langsdorf Jr., a Manhattan Project scientist.
Langsdorf and other concerned scientists founded The Bulletin two years prior, feeling a responsibility
to warn and educate the public about the possibly disastrous consequences of their creations.
Atomic bombs had been used for the first time in 1945, killing 130,000 residents of the
Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Initially, the time on the clock depicted the hour hand pointing straight at the zero
hour, with the minute hand placed at just seven minutes before midnight.
The time was completely arbitrary, though.
Langsdorf just thought “it seemed the right time.”
The graphic quickly adopted the name of The Doomsday Clock, and eventually gained world
recognition as a symbol for the threat of an impending nuclear apocalypse.
Since 1947, the Bulletin has regularly adjusted the clock face when they perceive a change
in threat level, also taking into account other, non-nuclear factors, like climate change,
bio weapons and cyber threats.
Doomsday seems just a few ticks away now, but time on this clock doesn’t really reflect
actual time, nor is it particularly linear.
In 1949, the Bulletin set the clock to three minutes until midnight
due to Soviet Union nuclear testing.
“Truman’s dramatic announcement that Russia had the atom secret!” and to
two minutes until midnight in 1953 thanks to the US developing the hydrogen bomb.
But a decade later, the clock turned back to 12 minutes before midnight thanks to the US and
Soviet Union ending atmospheric nuclear testing
“A milestone in ‘63.
East and West ban the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere.”
The minute hand has continued to fluctuate through a range of minutes before midnight
since then, from seven minutes ‘til in 1968 thanks to Vietnam,
to 10 minutes ‘til in 1972 at the signing of the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty,
“This is not an agreement which guarantees there’ll be no war, but what this is is
the beginning of a process that is enormously important.”
to three minutes ‘til in 1984 thanks to the heightened tensions between the US and
the Soviet Union during the Cold War, “None of the four wars in my lifetime came about
because we were too strong.
It is weakness that invites adventurous adversaries to make mistake in judgements.”
and all the way back to 17 minutes ‘til in 1991 after the end of the Cold War and
the signing of START, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
“Whether about issues on which we agreed or disagreed, the spirit of candor and openness
a desire not just to understand, but to build bridges has shown through.
In every case, dangerous or potentially dangerous events dictated whether the minute hand moved
closer to or away from Doomsday, but 2017 is the first time since the Cold War that
the Bulletin expressed deep concern about the disposition of an American president toward
science and the nuclear weapons.
"First of all, you don't want to say take everything off the table, because you're a bad negotiator if you do that.
Look, nuclear should be off the table, but would there be a time when it could be used? Possibly."
Even though the outlook seems grim, it’s important to remember what the time on the
clock is really meant to show: it’s not Doomsday yet, and on THIS clock,
we can turn back time.
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The Doomsday Clock, explained

2692 Folder Collection
Jenny published on February 15, 2018    Jenny translated    Judy Huang reviewed
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