Apocalypse Soon: History through the Doomsday Clock

If you haven’t already heard of the Doomsday Clock, you might want to stop reading here so that you can continue to remain blissfully ignorant and sleep well at night without having to worry about the impending nuclear apocalypse. If you’ve already heard of it, then you know that the Doomsday Clock is a symbol representing earth’s proximity to a world-ending manmade catastrophe with midnight marking the beginning of the end.

Since the Doomsday Clock was first conceived in 1947 by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist’s Science and Security board, the minute hand has wavered back and forth away from and towards impending doom depending on a number of factors including international relations, changing political regimes, the development of new nuclear weapons, and in recent years, climate change.

Currently the clock is said to be sitting at two minutes to midnight, the closest we’ve been to the apocalypse since 1953. To celebrate the impending end of humanity, here are some of the most important years in the history of the Doomsday Clock.

1949 – 3 Minutes to Midnight

In 1947, a group of researchers called the Chicago Atomic Scientists who had previously worked on the infamous Manhattan Project — responsible for the world’s first atomic weapon — began publishing a newsletter and later a magazine about global security in the wake of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings.

Initially, the clock was set at seven minutes to midnight, but by 1949, the hands had shifted for the first time putting it at three minutes to midnight due to the Soviet Union’s first atomic bomb test. Although the Soviets denied any tests had taken place, President Harry Truman warned American citizens that the nuclear arms race had begun.

Everett Historical / Shutterstock

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