What is the Doomsday clock?

Jan. 25, 2023

Atomic scientists reset the "Doomsday Clock" recently, moving its hands to 90 seconds to midnight - closer than ever before to the threat of annihilation.

About Doomsday clock:

  • What is it? It is a symbolic timepiece showing how close the world is to ending.
  • The hands of the clock are moved closer to or further away from midnight based on the scientists' reading of existential threats at a particular time.
  • Purpose:
    • It warns how many metaphorical “minutes to midnight” humanity has left.
    • It is intended to warn the public and inspire action.
  • How is the clock set? A Chicago-based non-profit organization called the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists updates the time annually based on information regarding catastrophic risks to the planet and humanity
  • Origin and History:
    • The clock was created in 1947 by a group of atomic scientists, including Albert Einstein, who had worked on the Manhattan Project to develop the world's first nuclear weapons during World War Two.
    • When it was created in 1947, the placement of the Doomsday Clock was based on the threat posed by nuclear weapons.
    • In 2007, the Bulletin began including catastrophic disruptions from climate change in its hand-setting deliberations.
    • The furthest the clock has been set was 17 minutes to midnight, in 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  • What time is it now?
    • At 90 seconds to midnight, the "Doomsday Clock" is now the closest it has ever been to midnight.
    • It is the first time it has moved since it was set at 100 seconds to midnight in 2020.
    • Its setting reflects the revived fears of a nuclear war due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.