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The Doomsday Clock
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-01-25 09:39:29
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Douglas Adams' book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has always been one of the books I like and my favorite part is the very beginning when the Earthman finds out that Doomsday is imminent! However, it seems as Doomsday is actually just five-minutes away, so, just like in the beginning of the book, I’d better rush off to drink my last…pint!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Doomsday_Clock_graph.svgMaybe I’d better start all over again. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 by scientists who were worrying about nuclear weapons, including Albert Einstein and most of the scientists who had worked on the bombs that were dropped on Japan. In 1947 the Bulletin introduced a clock to evoke the imagery of apocalypse – when the clock displayed midnight it was the contemporary idiom of the nuclear explosion.

Since the clock was set to 11.53 in 1947, it has moved 18 times, so far. The furthest was 17 minutes when the Berlin Wall fell and the end of the Soviet Union, while the closest it came to midnight was 11.58 when USA tested the hydrogen bomb in 1953. In 1949, after the Soviet Union tested its nuclear bomb, the clock showed 3 minutes to midnight.

In 1969, Pakistan, India and Israel refused to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and the clock showed 10 minutes away. 1984 we were 3 minutes away and, as I noted before, in 1991 was the furthest from Doomsday, 17 whole minutes. When the arms race escalated in 1981 and Afghanistan, South Africa, and Poland all were engaged in war, the clock was changed to four minutes to midnight (three minutes closer).

On January 12th, 2007, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced that the Doomsday clock was to be moved forward to highlight the "Most Perilous Period since Hiroshima and Nagasaki." The meeting included 18 Nobel Prize laureates with Stephen Hawking among others, and they decided to add one more element to the threat of total world destruction: global warming, the new threat!

This recent change to five minutes to midnight took place on January 17th 2007 bringing us two minutes closer to the end. Not only are we facing annihilation from 21 million Hiroshima’s only from the nuclear bombs that USA and Russia have, but nature is also taking her revenge. The Clock has not changed since February 2002, but the Bulletin fears the coming arrival of a "Second Nuclear Age". The press release stated:

"The major new step reflects growing concerns about a "Second Nuclear Age" marked by grave threats, including: nuclear ambitions in Iran and North Korea, unsecured nuclear materials in Russia and elsewhere, the continuing "launch-ready" status of 2,000 of the 25,000 nuclear weapons held by the U.S. and Russia, escalating terrorism, and new pressure from climate change for expanded civilian nuclear power that could increase proliferation risks."

After the end of the Cold War we once again reached the worst point, five minutes before the end. The irony is that when we were 17 minutes away George Bush senior was the president of USA and now we reached the closest point, only 5 minutes away, George W. Bush Jr. is the president of the USA.

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Asa2007-01-22 08:54:00
Will somebody be there to turn it to midnight once the bombs have been launched?

Sand2007-01-22 09:13:19
The clock is rather exclusive of destructive influences. The enthusiastic cooperation of G.W.Bush and AlQaeda to the advantage of each's power may not be as spectacular as an atomic armageddon but in the long run is far more difficult to control and reverse and seems inexorable.

Simon2007-01-22 17:00:37
Does the clock observe Daylight Savings?

Mirage2007-01-27 00:42:31
Some think that all this is just some Theological Ecology. My answer at (in Greek though ...)


Mirage2007-01-27 00:52:35
The danger from civilian nuclear power for peaceful purposes is nonsense! Nuclear Power is THE safest energy source at the moment. All that mumbling about Iran et.all is just politics, taking advantage years of public fear of the word "nuclear" (stemming from Hirosima and the nuclear race)

The real danger comes from "free" nuclear material from Russia and elsewhere that could be sold to terrorists.

Sand2007-01-27 05:44:29
How many Chernobles does it take to convince?

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