Friday, January 27, 2017

The Doomsday Clock

In 1947, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists first published the Doomsday Clock meme that defines their idea of the risk of nuclear war. The initial setting was 7 minutes to midnight.

The time got moved closer to or further away from midnight as the Soviet Union, China, and the United States built more weapons systems, had crises, or improved relations. The Doomsday Clock is arbitrary and there are no published metrics as to the setting. The Clock is now at 2 and 1/2 minutes to midnight, as close to midnight as it was in 1953 when the U.S. and the Soviet Union were in the midst of the Cold War.

It might be that the Board is considering North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran. The possibility of an Islamic nuke attack somewhere in the world is real enough. And there's no controlling the North Koreans, at least not by any means tried by the last several Presidents.

But my money is on the likelihood that the Board just wanted to express their dislike for President Trump.


LindaG said...

When you started talking about the clock, I had not considered that possibility, but I think you are right, after thinking about it.

Pootie Tang said...

I always thought the clock imagery was childish to critical thinking adults and insulting to the atomic scientists. Here they are, experts in their field (a hard and complex one at that), and they have to express their knowledge is an effing giant clock. Here you are America, I know you can't understand nuclear physics and statecraft, so here's this giant clock and we all die when the hands align.

Borepatch said...

Associated Press "fact check" of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 3 .. 2 .. 1 ..


Anonymous said...

From Wikipedia regarding the 2017 clock update ( ):

"Rise of nationalism, United States President Donald Trump's comments over nuclear weapons, the threat of a renewed arms race between the U.S. and Russia, and the disbelief in the scientific consensus over climate change by the Trump Administration.[6][21][22][23][24] (This is the first use of a fraction in the time, and the clock's closest approach to midnight since 1953.)"

If you think that Donald Trump is unbalanced as a Commander-in-Chief and has engaged in unwarranted nuclear saber rattling, that is one thing. If you are upset that he doesn't fall in line with regards to anthropogenic global warming, that is also fine. When you co-opt your position of authority as a nuclear scientist to comment on an unrelated field of science I have great difficulty not yelling at you to "stay in your lane".

Apparently, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists ( ) decided to add climate change to their purview sometime in the current decade. This seems like some pretty serious mission creep (and perhaps an effort to cling to relevancy).

B said...

Goes to show that the "clock" is just a political tool anymore.

It no longer means anything.

Much like the Nobel Peace Prize...It just shows the hopes (or, in this case, not) of the Left.

Richard said...

Atomic scientists presumably know how to build bombs and determine their effects. If they have any special knowledge as to the likelihood of their use, it is unknown to me. It has always been a political statement.