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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?

  • TheDoomsday Clockfirst debuted in 1947 as a graphic on the cover of the first

  • edition of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientistsmagazine.

  • 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 thoughtit 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 minutestil in 1968 thanks to Vietnam,

  • to 10 minutestil in 1972 at the signing of the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty,

  • This is not an agreement which guarantees therell be no war, but what this is is

  • the beginning of a process that is enormously important.”

  • to three minutestil 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 minutestil 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.

This is the Doomsday clock.

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The Doomsday Clock, explained

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    Jenny posted on 2018/02/15
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