Scientists cautiously optimistic as Doomsday clock reset

Jan 14, 2010
Ambassador Thomas Pickering (L) and Lawrence Krauss (R) participate in a press conference held by the The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists in 2006 in Washington, DC. The minute hand of the Doomsday clock was moved back slightly Thursday, indicating the world has inched away from nuclear or environmental catastrophe, but stressing it was not out danger.

The minute hand of the Doomsday clock was moved back slightly Thursday, indicating the world has inched away from nuclear or environmental catastrophe, but stressing it was not out danger.

"It is six minutes to midnight," the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which created the Doomsday clock in 1947, said in a statement read out as the clock's countdown to midnight was nudged back by one minute from where it has been since 2007.

"For the first time since atomic bombs were dropped in 1945, leaders of states are cooperating to vastly reduce their arsenals and secure all nuclear bomb-making material," the statement by the panel of international scientists, including 19 Nobel laureates, said.

"For the first time ever, industrialized and developing countries alike are pledging to limit climate-changing gas emissions that could render our planet nearly uninhabitable.

"These unprecedented steps are signs of a growing political will to tackle the two gravest threats to civilization -- the terror of nuclear weapons and runaway ," it said.

Since it was created by scientists who helped to develop the world's first atomic weapons, the Doomsday clock has come to be seen as a barometer of what progress, if any, the world has made in moving away from the risk of nuclear, climate-caused or bio-warfare catastrophe.

Midnight on the clock signifies the apocalypse, and the minute hand symbolizes the countdown to disaster.

The last time the minute hand of the clock was moved was in 2007, when it was bumped two minutes closer to midnight.

In resetting the clock this year, the scientists said they were encouraged by recent developments, but had put back the clock by only one minute to show they were "mindful that the clock is ticking," said BAS's Lawrence Krauss.

"We moved it back by just one minute and what that means is that there's great potential for it to move again, in either direction," said Krauss, a physicist and co-chair of BAS's board of sponsors.

"We have a unique opportunity right now to begin to free ourselves from the terror of nuclear weapons and to slow drastic changes to our shared global environment.

"We must take advantage of that opportunity now," said Krauss, calling on world leaders, scientists and ordinary people to work together to make the world safer.

"Let's not blow it," he urged.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 by scientists from the University of Chicago who had helped to develop the first atomic weapons.

Explore further: Sniffing out a partner at a London pheromone party

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

U. S. envisions a new generation of nuclear weapons

Mar 19, 2007

Almost 62 years after detonation of the first atomic bombs, the United States is considering controversial proposals to produce a new generation of nuclear weapons and revamp its nuclear weapons complex, according to an article ...

A step closer to an ultra precise atomic clock

Apr 16, 2009

A clock that is so precise that it loses only a second every 300 million years - this is the result of new research in ultra cold atoms. The international collaboration is comprised of researchers from the ...

Nobel prize winner Joseph Rotblat dies

Sep 02, 2005

Scientists around the world paid tribute to Joseph Rotblat, a Polish nuclear physicist and Nobel peace prize winner, who died at age 96.

Recommended for you

How to win a Tour de France sprint

Jul 22, 2014

The final dash to the line in a Tour de France sprint finish may appear to the bystander to be a mess of bodies trying to cram into the width of a road, but there is a high degree of strategy involved. It ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

aaaaaaaaa
1 / 5 (1) Jan 14, 2010
Omnipotent politicians: (Tony Blair lecturing on peace, Supreme leaders etc.) Einstein once said 'a country cannot prepare for war and peace simultaneously.'
Population Growth:estimated 9,309,051,539 by 2050
Religious: (God/Allah/- save the world!)
The Egyptians,Greeks,Romans,Mayans, would suggest differently, but perhaps there were not enough sacrifices,(hindus/muslims - must try harder.)
Climate Change: If you add sugar to tea it's going to get sweeter.
If you add C02 to the atmosphere its going to get Hotter. C02 is now at 387.27ppm up from 385.54ppm last year.
Habitat loss: By 2022, 20% of all living species in recent times will be extinct. This suggests there will be 0% living in the future.
World war 3, disease,famine,war should cull the human population to sustainable levels. Estimates suggest 1 in 6 will survive.(subsistence farmers, nomads)
Earth's resources have been used up. No easily available natural gas or oil, surface coal has been mined.
Back to pre-iron age.
Sodit
GrayMouser
5 / 5 (2) Jan 14, 2010
This is nothing but political activism. There is no science involved in the clock or it's setting.