Doomsday Clock

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The Doomsday Clock is a symbolic clock face, maintained since 1947 by the board of directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago. The closer the clock is to midnight, the closer the world is estimated to be to global disaster. As of January 14, 2010 (2010 -01-14), the Doomsday Clock now stands at six minutes to midnight.[1][2] Since its creation, the time on the clock has changed 19 times.[3]

Originally, the analogy represented the threat of global nuclear war, but since 2007 it has also reflected climate-changing technologies and "new developments in the life sciences and nanotechnology that could inflict irrevocable harm."[4]

Since its inception, the clock has been depicted on every cover of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Its first representation was in 1947, when magazine co-founder Hyman Goldsmith asked artist Martyl Langsdorf (wife of Manhattan Project research associate and Szilárd petition signatory Alexander Langsdorf, Jr.) to design a cover for the magazine's June 1947 issue.


Time changes

In 1947, during the Cold War, the clock was started at seven minutes to midnight and was subsequently advanced or rewound per the state of the world and nuclear war prospects. Setting the clock is relatively arbitrary, and decided by the directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reflecting global affairs. The clock has not always been set and reset as quickly as events occur; the closest nuclear war threat, the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, reached crisis, climax, and resolution before it could be set to reflect that possible doomsday.

The most recent officially-announced setting — six minutes to midnight — was on 14 January 2010.[1][5] Reflecting international events dangerous to humankind, the clock hands have been set nineteen times, since its initial start at seven minutes to midnight in 1947.

See also


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