Doomsday Clock 2024 set to 90 seconds to midnight: What to know

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We remain closer than ever to a global catastrophe, according to the annual update to the Doomsday Clock, announced Tuesday morning.

The time on the symbolic clock is the same as last year, when the Doomsday Clock was first set to 90 seconds to midnight, the closest it has ever been to midnight.

The Doomsday Clock is a metaphor for how close humanity is to annihilating itself, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which has kept the clock since 1947. The group was founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first Doomsday Clock. Nuclear weapons in the Manhattan Project.

The clock has remained the same time as last year due to continuing high levels of risks from threats such as war, climate change and the advancement of artificial intelligence.

Scientists created the clock using images of the end of the world (midnight) and the contemporary term for a nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the Earth.

Tuesday marks the first hourly update since the war between Israel and Hamas began and the second since the Russian invasion of Ukraine renewed fears of global nuclear war.

What time is it now?

The clock is 90 seconds close to midnight, which is the closest clock to midnight in its history. Midnight is the moment that symbolizes the Day of Resurrection.

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Who determines the time on the Resurrection Clock?

The Doomsday Clock is set each year by 22 members of the Bulletin Science and Security Council In consultation with its Board of Patrons, which includes 11 Nobel laureates.

Each year, board members are asked two questions:

  • Is humanity safer or at greater risk this year than last?
  • Is humanity safer or at greater risk compared to the 77 years on the clock?

This year, the council considered “multiple global threats, including disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, nuclear proliferation, the Russia-Ukraine war, the war between Israel and Hamas, biological threats, the ongoing climate crisis, and state-sponsored disinformation.” The bulletin said in a statement.

Why has the Doomsday Clock become so prominent?

Over the years, the watch has been referenced by the White House, the Kremlin and the leadership of many other countries. Robert Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein were members of the Bulletin's board of sponsors, and John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon wrote articles for the magazine.

Although not everyone agrees with the watch's settings, it is generally respected for the questions it raises and for its science-based stance.

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