World News

Doomsday Clock Set at Three Minutes to Midnight

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced in January of 2016 that their doomsday clock stands at three minutes to midnight. The clock, updated every year, is a unanimously recognized meter of the world’s exposure to disaster. It has stood at 11:57 pm since January 2015, when it was pushed two minutes closer to the world’s apocalypse.

The Bulletin was founded in 1945 by a group of researchers, some of whom had contributed to the Manhattan Project manufacturing the first nuclear bomb. Aware of the destructive power of the weapons they helped construct, the scientists set up the Bulletin as a way of reminding the public as to the consequences of using them. The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947 to explicitly demonstrate the global threats of nuclear weapons and climate change.

The clock has only been pressed this close to midnight on three different occasions. It was first pushed to 11:57 in 1949 after the Russians tested a nuclear weapon, and once again in 1984 at the pinnacle of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was pushed to its most life-threatening point, 11:58, in 1953, when the US and the Soviets both tested thermonuclear devices, igniting concerns of a tangible confrontation. The furthermost it has ever been from midnight was in 1991, when The United States and Soviet Union signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, and the Soviet Union disbanded, indicating the end of the Cold War and pushing the clock back to 11:43.