The Doomsday Clock seeks to warn the public of how close humanity is to destroying our world with technologies of our own making.
It acts as a metaphorical clock, and shows that now, humans are closer than ever to annihilation.
The clock is controlled by the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, including 10 Nobel laureates.
The bulletin was created by a group of atomic scientists that were part of the Manhattan Project, which created—America’s first atomic bomb.
Midnight on the Doomsday Clock refers to the time at which humans as a society have made earth uninhabitable—and no, this doesn’t mean Earth will implode tomorrow.
The countdown goes to an existential midnight, meaning the end of our world. As of Tuesday, the clock was set to 90 seconds to midnight—the closest we have ever been.
The clock functions as a way to create conversation around topics that are severely impacting our world. And it appears to be working.
At the United Nations climate change conference in 2021, it was cited when discussing how climate change is destroying the Earth.
The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947, amid concerns of nuclear weapons with the United States and Socivet Union in an arms race.
In recent years, factors impacting the clock have been updated. For example, in 2007 the possible catastrophic destruction from climate change was first considered.
Tuesday’s decision to move the clock forward to 90 minutes until midnight was largely due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Today, the members of the Science and Security Board move the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward, largely, though not exclusively, because of the mounting dangers in the war in Ukraine,” Bulletin president and CEO Rachel Bronson said via Instagram. “We move the Clock forward, the closest it has ever been to midnight. It is now, 90 seconds to midnight.”
According to the Bulletin’s site, the Doomsday Clock has appeared in popular culture, including novels by Stephen King and Piers Anthony, songs by The Who and the Clash, and comics like Watchmen and Stormwatch.