News Item:
Two minutes closer to Doomsday

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, in case you weren’t aware, maintains this nifty little gadget they call the Doomsday Clock.  The hands on the clock are used to display how close we are getting to nuclear midnight.  That’s the term used by the group to describe the moment when we will eventually [hopefully hypothetically] turn our planet into the sun, or a smaller version thereof.

Yesterday they moved the clock’s setting closer to midnight, and it’s officially 11:55 pm.  The clock doesn’t actually move by itself, but is reset at the group’s disgression, much the same as a referee would change the game clock in a ballgame, if he feels that something is amiss.  The scientists obviously think that something is amiss.

The clock has been changed 18 times since it was created in 1947.  The closest it’s ever been to striking midnight was in 1953, at the start of the nuclear arms race.  The time then was 11:58.  With the signing of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the United States and the then Soviet Union in 1991, the hands were pushed all the way back to 11:43.  The extent of nuclear proliferation since that time steadily nudged us closer to where we are today.  The situation in both North Korea and Iran accounts for the latest adjustment.

The article in the Washington Post covers that much, but the Times of London goes a bit further, reporting that Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates all have a renewed interest in nuclear programs.  Add to the mix the existing nuclear powers of the US, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, and [unoffically] Israel, there’s a whole lot of fission going on, and that’s a lot of atoms to contain.

Washington Post article

Times article

History of the Doomsday Clock

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