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Two Minutes Closer to Doomsday

By Sanityman in News
Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 03:30:08 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)

On February 27th 2002, the Doomsday Clock was changed to read 7 minutes to midnight. This is back to the position it was in 1947 when it first appeared.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was formed by scientists that had worked on the Manhattan Project (Einstein was "one of the Bulletin's godfathers"). The founding members wrote a report in June 1945 that warned "If atomic bombs were used without warning...the more probable outcome would be a post-war nuclear arms race".

Fifty-seven years later, the same organization continues to inform and warn the world about the dangers of the monster they helped to create. An article on the front page of the latest edition chronicles the US's attempts to protect itself against the covert introduction of nuclear devices, which is timely given the amount of fissile material that has been lost.


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Related Links
o Doomsday Clock
o changed
o 7 minutes to midnight
o The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
o formed
o same organization
o article
o fissile material that has been lost
o Also by Sanityman

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Two Minutes Closer to Doomsday | 38 comments (19 topical, 19 editorial, 0 hidden)
7 minutes? What a woose (3.66 / 6) (#6)
by georgeha on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 12:01:47 PM EST

you should have been paying attention in the 80's, when it was three minutes to midnight, thanks to "we begin bombing in 5 minutes" Ron.

What about in '53? (none / 0) (#9)
by Torgos Pizza on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 12:05:43 PM EST

When it actually reached two minutes til midnight? Duck and cover!

I intend to live forever, or die trying.
[ Parent ]
johnny might have been around then (none / 0) (#10)
by georgeha on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 12:12:24 PM EST

but I sure wasn't. It certainly sounds scary.

[ Parent ]
Our bomb-proof school desks will save us! (5.00 / 2) (#13)
by hardburn on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 12:21:50 PM EST

I always loved those old "duck-and-cover" movies. Back in high school, I looked at the cheep, rickety desks we sat in (which were old enough to be around back then). These things could barely hold up to the Awesome Destructive Power of a rubber band shooting a paperclip.

while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

[ Parent ]
Duck and Cover (2.00 / 1) (#36)
by Teehmar on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 10:53:31 PM EST

If you have never seen Bert the Turtle...
Scroll down until you find:
Duck and Cover 1951
Producer: Archer Productions, Inc.
Sponsor: U.S. Federal Civil Defense Administration
Famous Civil Defense film for children in which Bert the Turtle shows what to do in case of atomic attack.
Descriptors: Atomic/nuclear: Civil defense; Animation
Run time: 9:15

[ Parent ]
h2g2 - paper bags (none / 0) (#38)
by sgp on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 10:06:31 PM EST

Barman: "I thought, that if the world was going to end we were meant to lie down or put a paper bag over our head or something."
Ford Prefect: "If you like, yes."
Customer:That's what they told us in the army
Barman:Will that help?
Ford Prefect:No.

There are 10 types of people in the world:
Those who understand binary, and those who don't.

[ Parent ]

In the 80s.. (none / 0) (#18)
by Sanityman on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 01:03:20 PM EST

I was a teenager, and I'm afraid I hadn't heard of them :o)

I remember in 1979 we were given an assignment by our junior school teacher to design our 'perfect bedroom.' Nearly all the entries included some form of nuclear fall-out shelter. One particularly perspicacious boy had his with a defective shelter, reasoning that he wouldn't want to be around after the holocaust anyway. Babes and sucklings...

If you don't see the fnords, they can't eat you.
"You can't spray cheese whiz™ on the body of Christ!"

[ Parent ]
Surely the 60s were worse? (4.00 / 1) (#22)
by sonovel on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 01:35:23 PM EST

I have to call BS on this comment.

Relations with the USSR were _much_ better in the 80s than the 50-70s.

Remember that little Cuban Missle Crisis thingie?

Even "Duck and Cover" went away by the late 70s to 80s.

Anyone who thinks the 80s were the height of the nuclear threat has no memory of the time and/or bought into some stupid propaganda (like the "Reagan is a fascist" shite. Sorry Heaven 17, it weren't like that).

A big part of the credit for that lies with Maggie Thatcher. She believed that Gorbachev really was a reformer and counseled the U.S. to deal with him.

[ Parent ]
Interesting you mentioned the Cuban Missile Crisis (none / 0) (#24)
by mazachan on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 02:17:22 PM EST

because they never bothered to change the doomsday clock when it happened. There is an interesting article in the Chicago Tribune last week (I think) regarding this. Basically it goes on to state that the people at U of C changes the clock whenever they feel like it. CMC is supposed to be the closest we got to nuclear war (I'm saying "supposed" because there could have been other times.. we didn't know it.) The government thinks that this is just a publicity stunt and it means nothing. I will dig up the article and post it if I can find it..

[ Parent ]
Here is a link (none / 0) (#25)
by mazachan on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 02:20:33 PM EST

Here is the link to the Chicago Tribune story: here

[ Parent ]
But (none / 0) (#27)
by davidduncanscott on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 02:48:19 PM EST

The Day After was on TV in '83, and scared the bejeezus out of everybody. Testament came out the same year, and Threads the year after. Maybe it was because things were starting to look up, and we were all afraid to jinx it by relaxing.

I can't speak for the 50's. Last air-raid drill I did would have been ~1970, in DC (which we all assumed, rightly or not, would be obliterated in the first five minutes, making concerns about broken glass seem a little trivial.)

[ Parent ]

This reminds me... (4.66 / 3) (#8)
by Trevasel on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 12:02:46 PM EST

Two Minutes To Midnight

Iron Maiden is cool, yeah, baby.
-- That which does not kill you only makes you stranger - Trevor Goodchild

OT: Metal Rulz (none / 0) (#34)
by X-Nc on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 10:50:15 AM EST

Heh, I was thinking the exact same thing. Seriouslly cool song (and group). Their latest album is a killer.

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Aaahhhh!!!! My K5 subscription expired. Now I can't spell anymore.
[ Parent ]

Doesn't this strike anyone else as silly? (4.20 / 10) (#14)
by Wondertoad on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 12:44:25 PM EST

If they can move the clock back, then forward, then back, and then forward again, it's not really a clock, is it?

Doesn't the clock metaphor necessarily assume that humanity inevitably dies in a nuclear war of its own proliferation? Isn't it extremely reassuring to recognize that the most paranoid nuclear thoughts have not come true -- in the fifty years since they became fashionable?

Aren't we far safer than seven minutes having survived the MAD era? Isn't this an old paradigm? Isn't there a better way to display probability than as a clock?

Aren't social or political scientists much more likely to be able to accurately predict the future use of certain kinds of weapons?

If this organization isn't made of the original scientists, but is now made up of science admministrators, doesn't it have a bias to ensure its continuing existence by overstating the danger? How can science have any bias other than those provided by the scientific method?

Just a few pointed questions....

'Doomsday' no longer a problem... (none / 0) (#17)
by rebelcool on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 01:01:29 PM EST

the idea was of course a huge global nuclear holocaust. Which was a very real threat. Today that threat doesnt really exist..in fact their reason for advancing the clock 2 minutes is because terrorists might have their hand on some material.

Hardly 'doomsday'.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

Definition changed (3.83 / 6) (#23)
by jasonab on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 02:09:48 PM EST

The only problem with the clock is, they changed the definition of "midnight." Now, instead of nuclear holocaust, it's the change of nuclear weapons being used anywhere on the planet. Quite a change!

The clock became irrelevant ten years ago when they moved it back to 17 minutes. It should have stayed there. We're no closer to a world-wide nuclear war now than we were then. If they wanted to keep it around, they should have started over.

Clock is misleading (4.00 / 1) (#33)
by sean23007 on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 11:01:16 PM EST

This is somewhat deceptive. In fact, the position of the hands on the clock may even be inversely proportional to the danger of nuclear war. If we are terrified of being blown away and fear it every day, it is not very likely that it will happen. We will be more careful and cautious as a country, and our foreign relations will be calm and possibly pacifist as a result. It is only when we expect that nothing will happen to us that we are in danger. If, for example, the clock were moved to 11:30 or something, nobody would be too worried, and before we knew it, we'd be hit.

The clock is meaningless, except to guide the fantasies of the paranoid. We should be careful lest we are tricked by the tick of such a timepiece.

Lack of eloquence does not denote lack of intelligence, though they often coincide.
Oh right (none / 0) (#37)
by sgp on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 09:59:07 PM EST

So in this calm, careful and cautious climate, nobody's going to flatten Afghanistan, for example?

Who could possibly say that the US has been anything other than totally pacifistic over the past six months?

There are 10 types of people in the world:
Those who understand binary, and those who don't.

[ Parent ]

The clock dos not work. (none / 0) (#35)
by danne on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 02:01:02 PM EST

Holocausts always happens randomly. Besides that i'm not dead yet.

Two Minutes Closer to Doomsday | 38 comments (19 topical, 19 editorial, 0 hidden)
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