The clock hand that symbolizes the threat of nuclear bombing and irreversible climate change has never been so close to midnight yet. The Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has reset the clock hands to 20 seconds forward.

“Political conflicts regarding nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea remain unresolved and are, if anything, worsening. US-Russia cooperation on arms control and disarmament is all but nonexistent,” reads the project’s site.

A Brief Summary from Physicists on What Kind of Ticker This Thing Really Is:

The truth is that all this is a metaphor that the creators of the world’s first atomic bomb came up with in 1947. As knowledgeable people, they clearly understood that this invention and nuclear weapon tests brought humanity closer to the apocalypse. In this symbolic way, they wanted to convey this information to all people. Physically, there’s no clock; the hands only move on the Bulletin’s website, where you can also read a story about approaching the catastrophe closer.

Initially, the position of the hand was determined by Eugene Rabinowitch, Bulletin’s chief editor, physicist, and the leader of the disarmament movement. He didn’t disregard consulting with colleagues and the government of the USA and the USSR, and this helped him be objective. Since 1973, the decision to reset the clock has been made by 15 Nobel laureates and the Bulletin’s authors, who meet twice a year and discuss world events.

Just Facts:

  • For the first 60 years, the hands have only been moved because of threats of using nuclear weapons.
  • In total, the hand has been moved 25 times since the creation of the Doomsday Clock.
  • In 2007, the hands were moved due to global climate change.
  • In 2016, the mass distribution of fake news was the reason for clarifying the answer to the question, “What time is it?” However, after deliberate consideration, scientists decided that the threat was still too insignificant for moving the hands. And by the way, the Cuban Missile Crisis didn’t affect the clock either as it only lasted for 38 days.
  • In 2017, scientists had three reasons for moving the hands forward: global warming, the inaction of world leaders regarding climate threats, and Donald Trump. Namely, his statement on the prospects for the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons.
  • The clock left a cultural trace. In 1984, Iron Maiden performed the hit song 2 Minutes to Midnight, which was dedicated to the events of 1953 when the world was on the verge of nuclear war. And Microsoft released an online game Rise Nations that had its own doomsday timer. Every time a player launches a nuclear missile, the timer starts the countdown. If it reaches zero, a global catastrophe occurs, and all players lose.