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Doomsday Clock


The Doomsday Clock is a symbol that represents a countdown to possible global catastrophe. It has been maintained since 1947 by the members of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Science and Security Board, who are in turn advised by the Governing Board and the Board of Sponsors, including 18 Nobel laureates.

Originally, the Clock, which hangs on a wall in The Bulletin's office in the University of Chicago, represented an analogy for the threat of global nuclear war; however, since 2007 it has also reflected climate change and new developments in the life sciences and technology that could inflict irrevocable harm to humanity. The Clock represents the hypothetical global catastrophe as "midnight", and The Bulletin's opinion on how close the world is to a global catastrophe as a number of "minutes" before midnight.

The Clock's original setting in 1947 was seven minutes to midnight. It has been set backward and forward 22 times since then, the smallest ever number of minutes to midnight being two (in 1953) and the largest seventeen (in 1991). As of January 2017, the Clock is set at two and a half minutes to midnight, due to a "rise of 'strident nationalism' worldwide, United States President Donald Trump's comments over nuclear weapons, and the disbelief in the scientific consensus over climate change by the Trump Administration." This setting is the Clock's second closest approach to midnight since its introduction in 1947, after it was set to two minutes to midnight in 1953.

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. The Clock was first represented in 1947, when The Bulletin 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. As Eugene Rabinowitch, another co-founder of The Bulletin, explained later,


Timeline of the Doomsday Clock
Year Minutes to midnight Change (minutes) Reason
1947 7  — The initial setting of the Doomsday Clock. Doomsday Clock 7 minute mark.jpg
1949 3 −4 The Soviet Union tests its first atomic bomb, officially starting the nuclear arms race. Doomsday Clock 3 minute mark.jpg
1953 2 −1 The United States and the Soviet Union test thermonuclear devices within nine months of one another. This is the Clock's closest approach to midnight since its inception. Doomsday Clock 2 minute mark.jpg
1960 7 +5 In response to a perception of increased scientific cooperation and public understanding of the dangers of nuclear weapons (as well as political actions taken to avoid "massive retaliation"), the United States and Soviet Union cooperate and avoid direct confrontation in regional conflicts such as the 1956 Suez Crisis. Scientists from various countries help establish the International Geophysical Year, a series of coordinated, worldwide scientific observations between nations allied with both the United States and the Soviet Union, and the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, which allow Soviet and American scientists to interact. Doomsday Clock 7 minute mark.jpg
1963 12 +5 The United States and the Soviet Union sign the Partial Test Ban Treaty, limiting atmospheric nuclear testing. Doomsday Clock 12 minute mark.jpg
1968 7 −5 The involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War intensifies, the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 takes place, and the Six-Day War occurs in 1967. France and China, two nations which have not signed the Partial Test Ban Treaty, acquire and test nuclear weapons (the 1960 Gerboise Bleue and the 1964 596, respectively) to assert themselves as global players in the nuclear arms race. Doomsday Clock 7 minute mark.jpg
1969 10 +3 Every nation in the world, with the notable exceptions of India, Israel, and Pakistan, signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Doomsday Clock 10 minute mark.jpg
1972 12 +2 The United States and the Soviet Union sign the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) and the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Doomsday Clock 12 minute mark.jpg
1974 9 −3 India tests a nuclear device (Smiling Buddha), and SALT II talks stall. Both the United States and the Soviet Union modernize multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs). Doomsday Clock 9 minute mark.jpg
1980 7 −2 Unforeseeable end to deadlock in American–Soviet talks as the Soviet–Afghan War begins. As a result of the war, the U.S. Senate refuses to ratify the SALT II agreement. Doomsday Clock 7 minute mark.jpg
1981 4 −3 The Clock is adjusted in early 1981. The Soviet war in Afghanistan toughens the U.S.' nuclear posture. U.S. President Jimmy Carter withdraws the United States from the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow. The Carter administration considers ways in which the United States could win a nuclear war. Ronald Reagan becomes President of the United States, scraps further arms reduction talks with the Soviet Union, and argues that the only way to end the Cold War is to win it. Tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union contribute to the danger of the nuclear annihilation. Doomsday Clock 4 minute mark.jpg
1984 3 −1 Further escalation of the tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, with the ongoing Soviet–Afghan War intensifying the Cold War. U.S. Pershing II medium-range ballistic missile and cruise missiles are deployed in Western Europe. Ronald Reagan pushes to win the Cold War by intensifying the arms race between the superpowers. The Soviet Union and its allies (except Romania) boycott the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, as a response to the U.S-led boycott in 1980. Doomsday Clock 3 minute mark.jpg
1988 6 +3 In December 1987, the Clock is moved back three minutes as the United States and the Soviet Union sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, to eliminate intermediate-range nuclear missiles, and their relations improve. Doomsday Clock 6 minute mark.jpg
1990 10 +4 The Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, along with the reunification of Germany, mean that the Cold War is nearing its end. Doomsday Clock 10 minute mark.jpg
1991 17 +7 The United States and Soviet Union sign the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), and the dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 26. This is the furthest from midnight the Clock has been since its inception. Doomsday Clock 17 minute mark.jpg
1995 14 −3 Global military spending continues at Cold War levels amid concerns about post-Soviet nuclear proliferation of weapons and brainpower. Doomsday Clock 14 minute mark.jpg
1998 9 −5 Both India (Pokhran-II) and Pakistan (Chagai-I) test nuclear weapons in a tit-for-tat show of aggression; the United States and Russia run into difficulties in further reducing stockpiles. Doomsday Clock 9 minute mark.jpg
2002 7 −2 Little progress on global nuclear disarmament. United States rejects a series of arms control treaties and announces its intentions to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, amid concerns about the possibility of a nuclear terrorist attack due to the amount of weapon-grade nuclear materials that are unsecured and unaccounted for worldwide. Doomsday Clock 7 minute mark.jpg
2007 5 −2 North Korea tests a nuclear weapon in October 2006, Iran's nuclear ambitions, a renewed American emphasis on the military utility of nuclear weapons, the failure to adequately secure nuclear materials, and the continued presence of some 26,000 nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia. After assessing the dangers posed to civilization, climate change was added to the prospect of nuclear annihilation as the greatest threats to humankind. Doomsday Clock 5 minute mark.jpg
2010 6 +1 Worldwide cooperation to reduce nuclear arsenals and limit effect of climate change.New START agreement is ratified by both the United States and Russia, and more negotiations for further reductions in the American and Russian nuclear arsenal are already planned. The 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen results in the developing and industrialized countries agreeing to take responsibility for carbon emissions and to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. Doomsday Clock 6 minute mark.jpg
2012 5 −1 Lack of global political action to address global climate change, nuclear weapons stockpiles, the potential for regional nuclear conflict, and nuclear power safety. Doomsday Clock 5 minute mark.jpg
2015 3 −2 Concerns amid continued lack of global political action to address global climate change, the modernization of nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia, and the problem of nuclear waste. Doomsday Clock 3 minute mark.jpg
2017 212 12 Rise of nationalism, United States President Donald Trump's comments over nuclear weapons, the threat of a renewed arms race between the U.S. and Russia, and the disbelief in the scientific consensus over climate change by the Trump Administration. This is the first use of a fraction in the time, and the Clock's closest approach to midnight since 1953. Doomsday Clock- 2.5 minutes.svg

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Wikipedia

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