Wednesday, January 17, 2007

An interesting timepiece

CNN - 'Doomsday Clock' moved forward
The world has nudged closer to a nuclear apocalypse and environmental disaster, a trans-Atlantic group of prominent scientists warned Wednesday, pushing the hand of its symbolic Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight.

It was the fourth time since the end of the Cold War that the clock has ticked forward, this time from 11:53 to 11:55, amid fears over what the scientists are describing as "a second nuclear age" prompted largely by atomic standoffs with Iran and North Korea.
It is all very dramatic indeed, but I doubt that we are seriously that much closer to atomic holocaust than we were yesterday. Now I will grant that I am no nuclear physicist, but I am a political scientist. Just because Iran wants to get nuclear weapons, it doesn't mean they will succeed, nor does it mean they would be any more willing to use them than anyone else who already has them. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see nuclear weapons go away, but until the big boys are willing to get rid of them, the little boys are going to want to get them too.

The article also notes some other instances when the hands of the clock have moved.
Since it was set to seven minutes to midnight in 1947, the hand has been moved 18 times, including Wednesday's move.

It came closest to midnight -- just two minutes away -- in 1953, following the successful test of a hydrogen bomb by the United States. It has been as far away as 17 minutes, set there in 1991 following the demise of the Soviet Union.

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