The callApocalypse Clock‘or the End of the World, is one of the most macabre, but at the same time most illustrative, indicators of how bad the planet is. It is an imaginary clock that was created many years ago by a group of scientists to indicate the time margin that the Earth has left before being destroyed. AND the hands are getting closer and closer to midnight, which is the point that indicates the end of the world. In 2024 it is only a minute and a half away from 12.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the magazine of American atomic physicists that publishes this fateful hour every year, announced a few days ago the situation of the dreaded clock throughout 2023. And the result is that Only 90 seconds left to reach midnight, the same as the previous year. A sign that the global situation has not improved one bit.

The threats of 2024

Never before have the hands been so close to the dreaded midnight. This record from 2023 has been maintained in 2024 due to the nuclear threat in Russia’s war against Ukraine, the October 7 attack in Israel, the climate threat and the danger posed by artificial intelligence.

“Flashpoints around the world carry the threat of nuclear escalation, climate change is already causing death and destruction, and disruptive technologies such as AI and biological research are advancing faster than their guarantees of control,” said Rachel. Bronson, president and CEO of the Bulletin.

“Last year, we expressed grave concern by moving the clock to 90 seconds to midnight, the closest it has ever been to a global catastrophe,” he continued. “The risks of last year continue this year,” he explained. Bronson added that keeping the clock unchanged from the previous year “does not mean that the world is in a stable situation, but rather the opposite.”

What is the Apocalypse Clock?

This clock is closely related to the founding of the US Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. It is an organization created in 1945 by scientists such as J. Robert Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein. All of them had seen the devastating effects caused by nuclear weapons, at the end of World War II, in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They wanted to warn the public and pressure world leaders not to use nuclear weapons again.

The clock was born to quantify the nuclear threat

The group devised the ‘Apocalypse Clock’ in 1947, as a way to symbolize how close humanity is to catastrophe. caused by man’s threats. The minute hand would move in response to changing world events, and midnight would represent total annihilation.

The clock was originally a design drawn to illustrate a magazine cover, and was drawn by artist Martyl Langsdorf, married to a physicist, Alexander Langsdorf, who worked on the Manhattan Project while studying at the University of Chicago. The concept was redesigned in 2007 by graphic designer Michael Bierut.

When the clock started for the first time it was seven minutes to midnightand since 1947 it has been progressively approaching total catastrophe.

Members of the scientific committee of the End of the World Clock

Each year, the Science and Security Council Bulletin announces the new position of the clock at the end of January. It is made up of a group of well-known scientists and experts, who have various trainings. They meet twice a year to discuss events, policies and trends, contrast their points of view with colleagues from various disciplines and seek the opinion of the Bulletin’s Board of Sponsors, among whom are several Nobel Prize winners.

Although initially the watch emphasized the nuclear threat as an almost exclusive threat to the annihilation of humanity, In recent decades, climate change is another factor that is being taken into account. to set this time on the clock.

We have never been as close to midnight as we are now, despite the fact that since its creation the world has experienced incredibly tense situations, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960s. It has also experienced moments of ‘relaxation’ in which the hands have gone back, as occurred with the nuclear detente derived from the agreements between the USA and the USSR for the reduction of nuclear weapons.

For now, however, all the alarms remain on.


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