Science

How close are we to Doomsday? We’ll find out Thursday

Thursday morning, the folks who keep track of the “Doomsday Clock” will tell us how close we are to midnight.

Each year, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a non-profit group that sets the clock, decides whether the events of the previous year pushed humanity closer to or farther from destruction. The closer to midnight we are, the more danger we’re in. According to the group, the clock “conveys how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making.”

Last January, the clock remained at two minutes to midnight, which is as close as its been since 1953 during the height of the Cold War.

“A new abnormal: It is still two minutes to midnight,” the Bulletin reported at last year’s announcement. “Humanity now faces two simultaneous existential threats, either of which would be cause for extreme concern and immediate attention.

“These major threats – nuclear weapons and climate change – were exacerbated this past year by the increased use of information warfare to undermine democracy around the world, amplifying risk from these and other threats and putting the future of civilization in extraordinary danger,” the group said in 2019.

The farthest it’s been from midnight was in 1991 when the clock was 17 minutes to midnight, near the end of the Cold War.

The clock has been maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1947. The group was founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had helped develop the first nuclear weapons in the Manhattan Project.

The scientists created the clock in 1947 using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and a nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the Earth.

The decision is made by the board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, along with input from a board of sponsors that includes 13 Nobel Laureates.

The announcement will be made Thursday morning at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How close are we to Doomsday? We’ll find out Thursday

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