Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Doomsday Clock

One of my first jobs was working in a public library. I shelved books, retrieved archived issues of magazines for patrons and sorted and read shelves for accuracy. It was a great job and I made a number of great friends during the time that I worked there. I was not interested in a job in food service, though a number of my friends did go that route.

I was a history geek (and a bit of a nerd) so working in the library was just right. I remember looking at old issues of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and becoming fixated on the Doomsday Clock, which was featured in each issue. In January 2010, the Doomsday Clock was moved one minute away from midnight - from five to six minutes to midnight.
The Doomsday Clock appeared in the Bulletin first in 1947 at seven minutes to midnight and was an indication of how close mankind was to its own obliteration, particularly to the dangers of nuclear war. It has been adjusted 18 times since its inception - midnight being the point at which the end of the world might occur.

The closest the clock came was two minutes to midnight, in 1953, when the United States pursued plans to develop a hydrogen bomb, in addition to the testing of a nuclear device by the Soviet Union. The furthest the clock ever sat was seventeen minutes to midnight, in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. The clock has also been used to monitor climate change around the world as well as biosecurity issues.

No comments: