When Martyl Langsdorf designed the Doomsday Clock in 1947, it was just an arbitrary graphic for the first edition of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists magazine. But over time, the Bulletin adopted the clock as an ongoing symbol for their interpretation of humanity’s approach toward the end of times, changing the time as new threats arise or old threats resolve.
In January, the Bulletin announced the clock moved 30 seconds closer than last year to the end of times. Executive director Rachel Bronson expressed two main concerns that contributed to the clock’s time change:
The first has been the cavalier and reckless language used across the globe, especially in the United States, during the election and after, around nuclear weapons and nuclear threats. And the second is a growing disregard of scientific expertise.
That said, 30 seconds is the shortest amount the clock has shifted in its 70-year history, and two-and-a-half minutes isn’t even the “closest” the world has been near Doomsday.
Originally, the Bulletin only changed the time when they felt the threat of nuclear weapons became more or less imminent. But today the clock reflects other types of threats as well, from climate change to cybersecurity to reckless language to Donald Trump. This, in turn, has affected the scale, making the clock seem even less of an accurate representation of time.
So what does the clock actually represent? And how has it changed over time? Check out the video above to find out more, or watch it on our YouTube channel.