The Doomsday Clock was created by The Bulletin on Atomic Scientists over 60 years ago, in 1947.
It is a graphic representation of Earth’s proximity to a man-made Armageddon. The closer the minute gets to midnight, the closer we are to destruction.
In those 60 years, the clock has changed time a total of 20 times. It was originally set at ‘7 minutes to’ (11.53) as The Cold War began. Only a few years later, in 1953, it came as close as ‘2 minutes to’ (11.58), when the U.S. and U.S.S.R initiated the first tests of their nuclear weapons. More recently, it went as far as ’17 minutes to’ (11.43) and is it is currently set at ‘five minutes to’ (11.55).
The cheery notion of a visual countdown to our destruction came about after the Second World War. Einstein warned us that nuclear weapons posed a global threat like no other before it and established the Bulletin in order to spread his message.
Nuclear war is still considered to be the primary threat to our existence, but as science advances and other threats emerge, the Doomsday Clock has adapted. It now addresses a variety of factors, including climate-changing technology and bio-chemical developments.
Of all the new additions, it is the latter that causes the most concern amongst the media and modern scientists. Bio-chemical research could, theoretically, produce new viruses that could eradicate huge swathes of the population, living over much larger areas than a nuclear blast radius could cover.
Interest in Bio-technology is rife and DNA tampering has become a hobby amongst students, just as computer hacking was before it. This mass experimentation has led to a new era, where natural genetic sequences aren’t just being recreated artificially, but new ones are created from nothing.
As Einsten himself was aware, cutting-edge scientific break-throughs are incredibly exciting and worrying in equal measure. There is always the hope that bio-technology could lead to a healthier world and save millions of lives, but there is also the risk that, by design or accident, a virus causing the end of humanity could come into being.
The concern is large enough for important watchdog organisations to call for a suspension on biological experimentation, but how valid are their fears?
The Bulletin suggests that the chances of such dramatic outcomes of biological research are statistically undaunting in the near future and could prove to be mere science fiction.
It is of course, impossible to guess what will happen in the future. Who could have guessed the impact of a nuclear bomb, a century ago?
One thing is for sure, though, if we don’t try to tamper with nature, it’s unlikely to do it on its own.
Written by Anthony, for Swiss Time Machine, provider of quality, used Swiss watches.