The Doomsday Clock - A Goofy Relic of the Cold War

The "Doomsday Clock" is back in the news. It appears that the folks who call the shots on how close we are to the end of humanity's existence have decided that we're only three minutes away from midnight which, I gather, is when we all perish, or maybe turn back into pumpkins. The clock made its first appearance in 1947 in a rag called the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists during the early years the Cold War. I guess these guys thought the end was near even though only one side in the Cold War at that point had atomic weapons, and pretty puny ones at that. The closest the clock has ever come to midnight is 11:58, and that was in 1953. That likely had something to do with the successful deployment by the Soviet Union of a hydrogen bomb that year. At that point, the two sole possessors of thermonuclear weapons - us and them - each had no more than a couple of those bad boys, but that was enough to get us to 11:58 according to Dr. Henny Penny, chief worry wart down at the Bulletin. Tough to figure how the addition of six more nations to the rarely chummy nuclear weapons club and the manufacture of thousands of nuclear weapons since then didn't result in the clock's moving any closer to midnight.

I suppose these guys think they're doing the world some kind of service making these scary announcements every now and then, but the benefit we derive from this goofy clock setting honestly escapes me. If mass annihilation does break out, do they think the last guy living on the planet is going to take the time to set the clock to midnight just as the human race becomes officially extinct? He'll probably have a few other things to worry about at that point. And why doesn't the clock have a second hand? You'd think these scientists (and by the way, don't forget that scientists are the ones responsible for creating the stuff that other scientists think will eventually kill us all) would be smart enough to calculate the seconds left until doomsday. I mean, if your only increment is the minute, that doesn't leave you a whole lot of wiggle room. Another reason the clock metaphor is tough to take seriously is the number of times these same "scientists" have moved the "clock" backwards. Look, Einstein, clocks, at least ones that are functioning in a reasonably reliable manner, just don't do that. Maybe a better metaphor would have been a thermometer.

And maybe instead of trying to scare the pants off everyone with their silly clock, these guys should be working on how to keep their latest earth-destroying gizmo to themselves.