The Doomsday Clock: What Does It Mean? How Doomed Are We?

By | February 1, 2020

Is there an actual clock, and is it ticking?

We hear a lot about the Doomsday Clock ticking closer and closer to "midnight," which is when we're all doomed, but what does that really mean? During the Cold War, the world was three minutes to midnight, yet here we are. In further misunderstanding of how minutes work, we hit three minutes again in 2015. Five years later, the Clock struck 100 seconds, less than two minutes, to midnight for the first time ever. Exactly how are we calculating this? Is there a real clock? Who's behind it, and when did it start?

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Source: Wired

There is, in fact, a clock that hangs in the University of Chicago that physically represents the Doomsday Clock, but it's just a metaphor for our slow dirge toward extinction. Rather than counting down the literal seconds to the apocalypse, it reflects the level of "continuous danger" in which the world finds itself on a day-to-day basis. Depending on the year or era in which the clock is being discussed, "midnight" can mean a variety of things, but it always means that we're toast. No number of Soldier of Fortune magazines or cans of tuna will do anything to help.

After World War II, scientists decided that a countdown to the end of the world was necessary 

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Source: The Telegraph

Following the end of World War II, the Atomic Scientists of Chicago, a group of international researchers who worked on the Manhattan Project, decided that the world was on its way to total and complete destruction. Following the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the ASC started publishing a newsletter called Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to discuss changes in the dangers that mankind faces. Sometimes, it's nuclear war. Other times, it's climate change. In the future, it might be some brand-new horror that people today couldn't dream up in our worst nightmares. Whatever we're dealing with, the group meets every year to determine whether the clock has moved forward or backward.