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"Doomsday Clock" Moves Away From Midnight 287

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the of-course-now-some-horrible-despot-will-come-to-power dept.
Arvisp writes to tell us that the symbolic "Doomsday Clock," designed to represent how close civilization is to catastrophic destruction, has been moved away from midnight. "First set at seven minutes to midnight, the clock has been moved only 18 times since its creation in 1947. The group, which includes more than a dozen Nobel laureates, last moved the hands of the clock in 2007, from seven to five minutes before midnight to reflect the threat of a 'second nuclear age' and the challenges presented by global warming. Today, at a press conference in New York, the Bulletin announced that despite the looming threats of nuclear weapons and climate change, it would move the hands of the clock from five to six minutes before midnight."
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"Doomsday Clock" Moves Away From Midnight

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  • Iron Maiden (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Friday January 15, 2010 @04:20PM (#30783238) Homepage Journal
    Kill for gain or shoot to maim, but we don't need a reason,
    The Golden Goose [wikipedia.org] is on the loose and never out of season,
    Blackened pride still burns inside this shell of bloody treason, [wikipedia.org]
    Here's my gun for a barrel of fun for the love of living death.

    The killer's breed [wikipedia.org] or the demon's seed,
    The glamour, the fortune, [wikipedia.org] the pain.
    Go to war again, blood is freedom's stain,
    But don't you pray for my soul anymore.

    6 minutes to midnight, the hands that threaten doom,
    6 minutes to midnight, to kill the unborn in the womb.

    The blind men shout let the creatures out, we'll show the unbelievers, [wikipedia.org]
    The napalm screams of human flames, of a prime time Belsan [wikipedia.org] feast...YEAH!
    As the reasons for the carnage cut their meat and lick the gravy,
    We oil the jaws of the war machine and feed it with our babies. [patdollard.com]

    The body bags and little rags of children torn in two,
    And the jellied brains of those who remain to put the finger right on you,
    As the madmen play on words and make us all dance to their song, [wikipedia.org]
    To the tune of starving millions, [socialistappeal.org] to make a better kind of gun.
    • by omfgnosis (963606)

      I'll skip the rest of it, but... we don't dance to Israel's song. Other way around.

    • 2!

      Minutes!

      To Miiiiiiiidnight!
  • by Em Emalb (452530) <ememalb AT gmail DOT com> on Friday January 15, 2010 @04:20PM (#30783242) Homepage Journal

    Holy pretentious old coots, batman!

    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday January 15, 2010 @04:28PM (#30783348) Journal

      Also add:

      Illogical. The threat from nuclear annihilation is higher now than it was in 2007, thanks to Iran's and Pakistan's recent experiments with missile launches and nuclear bombs. They could nuke the European Union or the Russian Federation.

      It should have been moved close to midnight but I suspect these guys, like the Nobel Foundation, are in love with the new president. They think the world is all rainbows and poppies now, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary.

      • by jedidiah (1196) on Friday January 15, 2010 @04:37PM (#30783470) Homepage

        Nah. Total human annihalation at this point is unlikely.

        However, Pakistan or Iran could find themselves nuked off the map.

        Any fight involving these two would likely be very lopsided or localized.

        It would suck but probably not be doomsday.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by cheesybagel (670288)

          World War I started over less. Basically the crown heir to the Austrian-Hungarian empire was assassinated in Serbia and then it escalated.

          Pakistan has pretty close relations with China. If China ever got involved into a large nuclear conflict, with say India, Russia and the US could not stand by idly.

          • by zippthorne (748122) on Friday January 15, 2010 @05:07PM (#30783910) Journal

            Yeah, but the problem was secret mutual defense and attack treaties that built up over time into a domino sculpture. If people could see their dominoes stacking up next to the line of other dominoes, they might very well have averted that conflict.

            We know about the treaty problem, and none of the nuclear-capable superpowers are showing any particular inclination to empty their reserves.

            The clock was pretty stupid when it came out, being invented by editorializing nuclear scientists and not anyone in a profession that offers particular insights into the politics that results in weapons actually being deployed. It's even dumber now, and it's even a poor metaphor for what they're trying to express: in clock form, there isn't any analogy that maps to backwards movement that makes any sense.

            • by ari_j (90255)

              ...it's even a poor metaphor for what they're trying to express: in clock form, there isn't any analogy that maps to backwards movement that makes any sense.

              Daylight Saving Time comes to mind. But the real metaphor here is closer to the other reason to move a clock backwards: You screwed up setting it in the first place. Backward movement on the Doomsday Clock represents its keepers' having been incorrect in their entire belief system.

          • by icebike (68054) on Friday January 15, 2010 @05:53PM (#30784576)

            World War I started over less. Basically the crown heir to the Austrian-Hungarian empire was assassinated in Serbia and then it escalated.

            Ah, no, that's not true.

            The assassination was not the cause of world war one. Nor was it even the trigger. Nations and armies were poised well before that and war was already a foregone conclusion.

            In truth it wasn't even a significant event. War was inevitable, any excuse would have been used. To some how assume that were it not for that one event WWI would not have happened is historically inaccurate.

            Read "The Guns of August".

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by HBI (604924)

              The belief that WWI was inevitable is not universal. See Keegan's history, for instance.

              It is true that after a certain point, the cycle of responsive mobilizations (which entailed war) could not be stopped, but to say that the cycle could not have been broken at some point by men of good will is inaccurate. To say that such men did not exist in 1910s Europe is also incorrect.

              WWI was a huge mistake and not a single one of the powers that entered it did so willingly. Even the Habsburgs had (well-founded)

        • by aicrules (819392) on Friday January 15, 2010 @04:57PM (#30783770)

          However, Pakistan or Iran could find themselves nuked off the map.

          Which would then move the doomsday clock FURTHER from midnight.

        • I would say that is very hopeful thinking. The biggest threat does not actually come from the explosion itself (okay, yes, the explosion is also bad), but from the nuclear fallout that occurs after.

          Nuclear fallout can affect HUGE areas of the world. When a nuclear device is detonated, radioactive particles get launched into the atmosphere that can travel across the globe.

          Nuclear Fallout [wikipedia.org]

          I also see comments below about the bombs dropped on Japan - people need to keep in mind that was 65 years ago AND the bo

          • Re:First thought... (Score:5, Informative)

            by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Friday January 15, 2010 @05:40PM (#30784376)

            I also see comments below about the bombs dropped on Japan - people need to keep in mind that was 65 years ago AND the bomb types were nuclear FISSION, not nuclear fusion. There's a distinct difference.

            Actually, the only real difference between fission bombs and so-called "fusion" bombs is the blast radius; fusion occurs in the latter, but its sole purpose is to increase the amount of fission in the fissile material. In both cases, the primary explosive force is provided by splitting uranium or plutonium atoms en masse. While the details are fairly complicated, the main difference between a fission and a "fusion" bomb is that a pure fission device uses a high explosive to compress the fissile core, while a fusion device uses fusion to do the same thing. A fusion device creates a small amount of fission to trigger fusion in surrounding hydrogen (technically, deuterium and tritium). The fusion of that hydrogen then compresses the main fissile core the way the high explosives do in a pure fission bomb. The reason a "fusion" bomb is more powerful is that the fusion of the hydrogen doesn't just create explosive force, it also releases neutrons which trigger fission in the U-238 shell around the fissile core. U-238 is not very fissionable; you can split it, but it won't go into a chain reaction. But the neutrons released by the fusion process trigger fission in the U-238, amplifying the amount of force compressing the core (made of plutonium or U-235, both of which do have chain reactions from fission).

            The whole reason for doing this is that a fission reaction is so powerful that it would, left to its own devices, blow apart the chunk of fissile material so fast that most of it wouldn't actually fission. By increasing the power of the force that compresses the fissile core, and making the core stay together fractions of a second longer, the fission process is much more complete, leading to greater explosive power when the core eventually explodes. The radioactivity produced can actually be less; it's spread over a larger area by the bigger blast, and the original fissile material is broken down more completely (granted, more radioactive materials are produced, but the effects roughly even out, with the greater dispersal reducing the radioactivity per unit area).

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          Recent article in Scientific American suggests that local nuclear war could have wider consequences than previously believed. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=local-nuclear-war [scientificamerican.com]
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by amorsen (7485)

        Iran and Pakistan probably only have fission bombs. Not fun to be hit by, but not that much of a problem for the rest of the world, annihilation-wise.

      • Re:First thought... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Btarlinian (922732) <tarlinian@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Friday January 15, 2010 @04:39PM (#30783498)
        Pakistan has had nukes for quite a while now and we still don't actually know if Iran has them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by negRo_slim (636783)
        Maybe the threat of nuclear annihilation is higher for Iran or Paksistan but certainly not for us.
        • by tomhath (637240)
          The threat doesn't come from a government, even ones like North Korea, Pakistan, or Iran. The real threat is from a previously unknown group not associated with any government that somehow got it's hands on a couple of nukes. Nothing for them to lose by setting them off anywhere in the world. That was the real concern with Saddam, and is still a concern when any unstable government has them. It will probably happen eventually.
          • by lgw (121541)

            Nukes have a short shelf life. The big threat - nukes sold by failed former soviet states - has passed. Yes, we need to make sure that no government thinks it's clever to sell nukes to non-government entities (brigands is a good word here, lacks the near-meaninglessness of "terrorists"), but if some group of brigands just happened upon a nuke they face a high logistic hurdle to use it at any distance in time or in space from where they got it.

            Even at the height of the cold war, the threat was "merely" to

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        What the heck are you talking about? The US let loose 2 nukes on Japan, and the world didn't end. Any nuclear conflicts involving Israel or Iran or Pakistan or India and possibly China, would be local. It will be great destruction, but only for the involved nations. It no where approaches the predicted MAD scenario of the Cold War. Why the heck would Pakistan want to bomb the Hague when their sworn enemy lies next door? With their limited store of nukes, they won't so foolishly launch it on a quixotic missi
        • by swb (14022) on Friday January 15, 2010 @05:18PM (#30784064)

          I know it's real popular to feel such a level of disgust for the United States that you kind of lose sight of reality, but how exactly is Iran inching towards freedom?

          Since the election, which many *Iranians* feel was rigged by Ahmadinejad and/or those in his camp, the government has steadily ratcheted up the level of oppression in Iran, including increased censorship, Internet filtering, limits on cell phone communication, etc. The Iranian government has admitted to torturing and killing its own citizens who were detained protesting the election; internally there have been allegations of rape used as an instrument of torture.

          It's also apparent you have lost your "hope". Presumably "the people of USA" have actually made a stride TOWARDS more freedom -- voting the first African American President into office in a decade, in a landslide election that was widely acknowledged to be a repudiation of Bush/Cheney and their policies.

          China continues to jail its political opponents, even those seeking redress for issues which the government was responsible such as development and land use issues, and practices widespread censorship of the internet in addition to organized hacking campaigns against human rights advocates. Google has complained about it and is threatening to leave China over the issue.

        • Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Weaselmancer (533834) on Friday January 15, 2010 @05:31PM (#30784242)

          The US let loose 2 nukes on Japan, and the world didn't end. Any nuclear conflicts involving Israel or Iran or Pakistan or India and possibly China, would be local.

          You do realize that at the time we dropped those two nukes on Japan, they were the only ones on the planet. Right? It's not like anybody could nuke us back.

          • by sconeu (64226)

            And you also realize that at the time we dropped those nukes, we thought they were "just like a regular bomb, but with a bigger boom"?

            • by treeves (963993)
              Who's "we"? Robert Oppenheimer, for one, had grave (no pun intended) concerns about what the bomb might do to the atmosphere, IIRC.
          • The point was that the damage, even nuclear weapon damage, is localized to where the bombs are dropped(duh) and presumably we won't be a part of the nuke throwing match if it starts between two other countries on the other side of the world.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Kismet (13199)
          Come now. The sort of prophecy which you engage in at the end of your post belongs to the religious and political extremists that you criticize.

          Reasonable people do not speak in such absolutes.
      • Re:First thought... (Score:5, Informative)

        by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday January 15, 2010 @04:54PM (#30783714) Homepage
        Even if some rogue nation (or non-rogue nation) hit a city with a nuclear missile you're not talking about the end of civilization. The blast radius would be a couple of miles, so you could take out a sizeable chunk of a downtown area. The damage would probably be significantly less than the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which certainly didn't annihilate civilization.

        It should have been moved close to midnight but I suspect these guys, like the Nobel Foundation, are in love with the new president. They think the world is all rainbows and poppies now, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary.

        Or they accurately realize that GWB's leaving office and Obama entering it caused a noticeable easing of tension in world politics. This isn't so much because of the job Obama's done, but rather because of the destructive nature of GWB's administration.
        • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Friday January 15, 2010 @05:40PM (#30784388)

          Or they accurately realize that GWB's leaving office and Obama entering it caused a noticeable easing of tension in world politics. This isn't so much because of the job Obama's done, but rather because of the destructive nature of GWB's administration.

          Where has there been an "easing of tension in world politics"? Please name one tense situation that has become less tense in the last year.

      • by timster (32400)

        A couple unreliable fission nukes from Iran or Pakistan doesn't threaten "nuclear annihilation". That threat is in the large arsenals held by major powers. Reducing the size of those arsenals reduces the threat.

      • by icebike (68054)

        Wait wait wait...

        Your are going to start wailing about nuclear annihilation for countries that between them have less than 8 delivery vehicles with range and guidance systems barely able to get out of their back yard?

    • Second Thought (Score:5, Informative)

      by Tisha_AH (600987) <Tisha.Hayes@gmail.com> on Friday January 15, 2010 @04:43PM (#30783556) Journal

      I have been a paying member of the group for a few years now and I am distressed that they are constantly re-defining what doomsday is. Now it includes global warming, overpopulation, unstable governments, the building of any sort of nuclear power system, etc...

      It really diminishes from the message when they add in all of these other things. There have always been threats to our existence and there always will be.

      Asteroid impacts, genetically engineered plants or the eventual supernovae that will happen when Eta Carinae self-destructs are all threats as well.

      • by vic.tz (1000138) on Friday January 15, 2010 @05:00PM (#30783826)
        You can't really take the Doomsday Clock seriously. Just look at its history: 7, 3, 2, 7, 12, 7, 10, 12, 9, 7, 4, 3, 6, 10, 17, 14, 9, 7, 5, and now 6.

        Clearly, it was programmed by Microsoft.
      • Re:Second Thought (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dlchambers (1128139) on Friday January 15, 2010 @05:09PM (#30783934)

        Diversification is the classic response to obsolescence.
        Now that the Cold War is over and there's (currently, thankfully) very little chance that the US & Russia will nuke each other, the clock is an anachronism. It *should* be moved to about 7PM, but that's boring, so they add trendy threats in order to keep the clock at a more attention-getting number.
        I'm too young to remember the Cuban Missile Crisis (I was 2), but it's always seemed a bit preposterous to me that the clock is set to the last 1/2 of 1% of the day. Have we ever REALLY been 99.5% the way to destruction? Are we REALLY that close today?
        Maybe the clock's time should reflect it's own relevance... I'd buy it that the Doomsday Clock is 99.5 obsolete!

        • by Steve Hamlin (29353) on Friday January 15, 2010 @06:54PM (#30785258) Homepage

          "Have we ever REALLY been 99.5% the way to destruction?" Total destruction - no. Nuclear conflict which could have easily gotten way out of control and ruined modern life and history - yes.

          The Cuban Missle Crisis was close, very close. DEFCON 2, SAC planes loaded up with live nukes, a U2 shot down and pilot killed (which Kennedy had said would cause a US invastion of Cuba), a Soviet nuclear-armed sub hit with depth charges and almost striking back at NATO ships. A hurried U.S. plan for a contingency government in Cuba and worries about how the Soviets would inflict pain on Europe in the case of a U.S. invasion of Cuba.

          Able Archer in 1983 was also very close - during very tense NATO war exercises, a Soviet orbital Early Missile Warning System reported a single intercontinental ballistic missile launch from the territory of the United States. This should have resulted in upstream warning and quite possibly a retalitory nuclear strike.

          --- A length collection from Wikipedia: ---

          - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Able_Archer_83 [wikipedia.org]
          - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanislav_Petrov [wikipedia.org]

          Able Archer (1983) - Stanislav Petrov, a retired Soviet Air Defence Forces lieutenant colonel, deviated from standard Soviet doctrine by correctly identifying a missile attack warning as a false alarm on September 26, 1983. This decision most likely resulted in preventing an accidental retaliatory nuclear attack on the United States and its Western Allies.

          --- --- ---

          - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuban_Missle_Crisis [wikipedia.org]

          On the night of October 23rd, the Joint Chiefs of Staff instructed Strategic Air Command to go to DEFCON 2, for the only confirmed time in history....In response (to the missles in Cuba still being worked on), Kennedy issued Security Action Memorandum 199, authorizing the loading of nuclear weapons onto aircraft under the command of SACEUR (which had the duty of carrying out the first air strikes on the Soviet Union).

          The next morning, Kennedy informed the executive committee that he believed only an invasion would remove the missiles from Cuba. However, he was persuaded to give the matter time and continue with both military and diplomatic pressure. He agreed and ordered the low-level flights over the island to be increased from two per day to once every two hours. He also ordered a crash program to institute a new civil government in Cuba if an invasion went ahead.

          At this point, the crisis was ostensibly at a stalemate. The USSR had shown no indication that they would back down and had made several comments to the contrary. The U.S. had no reason to believe otherwise and was in the early stages of preparing for an invasion, along with a nuclear strike on the Soviet Union in case it responded militarily, which was assumed.

          Castro, on the other hand, was convinced that an invasion was soon at hand, and he dictated a letter to Khrushchev which appeared to call for a preemptive strike on the U.S. He also ordered all anti-aircraft weapons in Cuba to fire on any U.S. aircraft.

          A U.S. U2 reconnaissance plane was shot down (pilot killed) by a Soviet SAM emplacement. Anti-aircraft fire toward other U.S. planes continued. Kennedy has previous stated that if a U.S. plane was fired upon, he would order an attack against Cuba (a U.S. invasion).

          Military preparations continued, and all active duty Air Force personnel were recalled to base for possible action. Robert Kennedy later recalled the mood, "We had not abandoned all hope, but what hope there was now rested with Khrushchev's revising his course within the next few hours. It was a hope, not an expectation. The expectation was military confrontation by Tuesday, and possibly tomorrow..."

          Plans were drawn up for air strikes on the missile sites as well as other economic targets, notably petroleu

      • War: Product of "end game" mentality, whether religious or pragmatic.

        As far as overpopulation goes, how long until it's the matrix. I mean once we pass what 30 billion, where are we going to put people? Endless suburbs? What will their mentality be like.

        Some other ones: total blandishment... the end of change in human society.
        Group suicide: The best explanation for why we can't find aliens, civs reach a point figure something out and die off.
        Grey goo, we're closer than ever before, what would five year
    • Who watches the Watchmen?

      • by mmkkbb (816035)

        I don't think anyone can account for a rich, mad genius wreaking psychic warfare in the name of world peace and unification.

    • Pretty much (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday January 15, 2010 @04:54PM (#30783724)

      Were this any sort of real measure, it would have been moved back a big measure a long time ago. I mean I'll grant them that when the US and USSR were in the middle of their "who's got the biggest dick" contest, things were getting perilously close to a nuclear war. Also, due to the amount of weapons on both sides, it really would have been a doomsday scenario. However now? Not so much. While the nations still have arms, they aren't on the verge of using them. Things have cooled off and there is very little worry of an all out nuclear war.

      Just a bunch of useless posturing. They want to keep pretending like they matter.

    • by Comboman (895500)
      Quantifying the unquantifiable for 53 years. I wonder if they use the Drake equation?
  • Hey parents... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tool462 (677306) on Friday January 15, 2010 @04:23PM (#30783294)

    If you ever need to explain to your kids what masturbation is without getting too graphic, you can point them to this story.

  • by wiredog (43288) on Friday January 15, 2010 @04:24PM (#30783302) Journal

    Just doesn't have the same sound [wikimedia.org].

  • One would assume that a group, consisting of > 12 Nobel laureates, would abandon the Doomsday Clock for something less obscure and meaningless.

    I'd like to know how the origional designers chose to measure probability in terms of 'minutes to midnight'. It makes my head hurt.
    • That's all it is. It's just a way for a small group of smart folks to summarize their opinion and communicate with the plebes. I suppose in the information age it is kind of a throw back to a time when this sort of communication was more meaningful, but who cares. I think the real thing to do right now is ask them why they don't think such and such events (like the economy) merit moving the minute hand in the other direction.

  • I think 4 minutes is more like it. Seems like it should be a little closer to midnight.
  • Six minutes. Six minutes. Six minutes, Doug E. Fresh you're on!
  • by papa_lizard (1690036) on Friday January 15, 2010 @04:32PM (#30783402)
    If humans first emerged 200,000 years ago, then six minutes left would indicate we have well over 800 years to go. We should be able to get off-planet by then. If humans emerged 50,000 years ago, then we have about 100 years, but I'll be dead by then anyway. Either way, I'm not worried.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by omfgnosis (963606)

      Who cares what state we leave the world in for future generations. Amirite?

    • by sznupi (719324)

      This attitude of "I'm not worried about it, I'll be dead by the time it gets bad anyway" is one of the most destructive things that impacts humanity.

      Especially disgusting if held by people also holding dear "intellectual and moral demise of youth will doom the civilization", which do happen way too often for my taste.

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      If humans first emerged 200,000 years ago, then six minutes left would indicate we have well over 800 years to go. We should be able to get off-planet by then. If humans emerged 50,000 years ago, then we have about 100 years, but I'll be dead by then anyway. Either way, I'm not worried.

      But 6000 years equates to 25 years... FYI

  • So does having a degree makes the laureates make them more or less credible then the crazy bum on the corner?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Em Emalb (452530)

      Uhm...what?

      Don't take this the wrong way, but I don't think I've seen a more mangled sentence composed in English in a long time.

      Well done, sir. Well done, indeed.

      • by jgtg32a (1173373)

        I've seen worse, despite the errors you still know what he means.

      • Don't YOU take this take it the the wrong way, but I happen to make an art like a pro of mangling English grammar structure. The thing is important to know what the message tried to say, not so much or a lot about how its delivery was delivered.

    • So does having a degree makes the laureates make them more or less credible then the crazy bum on the corner?

      Wangari Maathai is a Nobel laureate and she's nuttier than a fruitcake.

    • by sorak (246725)

      So does having a degree makes the laureates make them more or less credible then the crazy bum on the corner?

      I don't think I've ever seen a bum on a street corner yelling "The end is less near than it was six months ago"

  • Once again Professor Farnsworth's work has been overlooked by the scientific community.
  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Friday January 15, 2010 @04:36PM (#30783450) Homepage
    From the article: [quote]Citing collaborative efforts by world leaders to reduce nuclear arsenals, secure nuclear bomb-making materials and pledge to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the group said the world was facing a "hopeful" state of affairs. The Bulletin also said that the election of President Barack Obama, along with his efforts to initiate arms reduction talks with Russia and negotiations with Iran to close its nuclear enrichment program, affected its decision. [/quote] Why does this sound more like it is about short-term political points rather than deep points about the fate of humanity?
    • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
      Also, why can't I apparently learn how to use preview or at least learn what the html tags are so I don't look like an idiot?
    • It's a tiny step in the direction of nuclear disarmament, which is a deep point about the fate of humanity.
    • Why would nuclear weapon reduction have any bearing on doomsday scenarios? Sure, a full nuclear exchange would have drastic global impact, but if something is going to end life on earth, it will be either a) A massive impact from a meteor, or b) a massive gamma ray burst from some nearby star unexpectedly going full nova. And, I somehow doubt that either of these events are being actively prepared for.

      So why again were they moving the hands on their non-quantifiable imaginary model clock again?
    • by argStyopa (232550)

      Because attention-whore scientists have always been about the short-term political points, and not about their (stated) long term altruistic goals.

      It was true in the 40's. It was true in the 80s. It's true today.

    • It always was about a political agenda. These guys have decided that nuclear weapons are evil and we should get rid of them, and the clock is a political device for drawing attention to their agenda.

      Personally, I think the idea of negotiating a reduction of nuclear weapons is silly, when both sides retain enough weapons to destroy the other side completely. Furthermore, no sane nation would get rid of their nuclear shield while another potentially hostile nation is around.

      I advocate peace, and suggest
  • Science? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by clone53421 (1310749) on Friday January 15, 2010 @04:40PM (#30783522) Journal

    Why is this listed under science? They’re just a bunch of fear-mongering wackos with an agenda.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by ErikTheRed (162431)

      Because Slashdot doesn't have a 'Frigtarded' section. The real question is how this ever got onto the main page.

  • by btcoal (1693074) on Friday January 15, 2010 @04:51PM (#30783648)
    "I would only agree that a symbolic clock is as nourishing to the intellect as a photograph of oxygen to a drowning man. "
  • The inevitability of bird brains. Perhaps our future will routinely involve recalibration, or will chime like musical chairs. If not a nuke, perhaps a comet, or just a sudden stall, like a snooze alarm. 5 more minutes....just a few moments more.
  • Climate change was included in the list. Do giant squids need to be added on now, too?

    Or do giant squids make the clock go back?

  • Because...? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LatencyKills (1213908) on Friday January 15, 2010 @05:10PM (#30783948)
    Because Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is somehow less at risk now that 2007? Because Iran is somehow farther away from nuclear enrichment than in 2007? Because Russia and China have both become friendlier with the West since 2007? Hmmm.
  • So this says to me that global catastrophe is 20% less likely than it used to be, since they've moved it from 5 to 6 minutes... but still 14% more likely than when it was 7 minutes in 1947. How do they get such numbers? Seems like huge jumps in probability. I think they need a 'seconds' hand.

    • by pomakis (323200)
      I suspect that their formulas and/or intuitions (whatever the source of their declarations) are nowhere close to being more precise than what a minute hand can represent.
  • The chances of a random terrorist group getting their hands on one of the many Russian nukes that they managed to lose are significant, and if not stopped in time, sure, I could see a city getting nuked. That's only going to result in the destruction of that city and that terrorist group (when basically every nation in existence works together to crush them.) Likewise, it's quite possible that a 2 nation nuclear war in the middle east could result in 2 destroyed nations, with fallout affecting nearby nation

  • by BountyX (1227176) on Friday January 15, 2010 @07:09PM (#30785406)

    This is how the nukes will end the world [youtube.com].

  • by pigwiggle (882643) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @12:37AM (#30787746) Homepage

    "I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy."

    I agree with Feynman. And I'll add - I've known buckets of physicists, and nearly without exception they are intoxicated by their own shiz.

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