Al Arafat Sherfuddeen Sherfuddeen
Passionate writer about current events, politics and happenings nationally and globally. An agent of communal harmony and an ardent Arsenal fan.
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The Doomsday Clock is a symbolic clock face, representing a countdown to a possible end-
Who created the Doomsday Clock?
The origin of the Clock can be traced to the cover page of a bulletin published by an international group of researchers called the Chicago Atomic Scientists. Since its inception, the Clock has been depicted on every cover of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Its first representation was in 1947 when bulletin co-founder Hyman Goldsmith asked artist Martyl Langsdorf (wife of research associate Alexander Langsdorf, Jr.) to design a cover for the magazine’s June 1947 issue, the first issue published in a magazine rather than a newsletter.
As Martyl listened to the scientists passionately debate the consequences of the new technology and their responsibility to inform the public, she felt their sense of urgency. So she sketched a clock to suggest that we didn’t have much time left to get atomic weapons under control. Martyl set the original Clock at seven minutes to midnight because, she said, “it looked good to my eye.”
In the early days, Bulletin Editor Eugene Rabinowitch decided whether the hand should be moved. A scientist himself and a leader in the international disarmament movement, he was in constant conversation with scientists and experts within and outside governments in many parts of the world. Based on these discussions, he decided where the clock hand should be set and explained his thinking in the Bulletin’s pages.
What is the current time setting of the Clock?
When were the hands set closest to midnight?
In 1991, with the end of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the first treaty to provide for deep cuts to the two countries’ strategic nuclear weapons arsenals, prompting the Bulletin to set the clock hand to 17 minutes to midnight.
The Bulletin is a bit like a doctor making a diagnosis. We look at data, as physicians look at lab tests and x-rays, and also take harder-to-quantify factors into account, as physicians do when talking with patients and family members. We consider as many symptoms, measurements, and circumstances as we can. Then we come to a judgment that sums up what could happen if leaders and citizens don’t take action to treat the conditions.
Humans invented both nuclear weapons and the fossil-fuel powered machines that contribute to climate change; we know how they work, so we can find ways to reduce or eliminate the harm. But we need concerted cooperation worldwide to prevent calamity.
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