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Since it was created in 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' 'doomsday clock' has been keeping track of how close mankind is to irreversible catastrophe.
Now the academic journal has announced a new time for the clock today, warning us just how much closer we've moved to being totally screwed. Cheery stuff, eh?
The new time of the clock - which tracks the world's vulnerability to technological or environmental disaster - was announced by the journal on Thursday as two minutes to midnight - thirty seconds closer than last year, and the closest to midnight since 1953. 'Midnight', in this case, means the end is effectively nigh.
The doomsday clock was founded in 1947 by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, an academic journal founded by scientists which helped develop the very first atomic weapons during the course of World War II.
The clock was first set at seven minutes to midnight, serving as a warning to humanity about the danger posed by nuclear weapons, and has appeared on the cover of every issue of the journal since.
Over the past 70 years, the clock has moved back and forth several times, coming closest to midnight - just two minutes away - in 1953 after the US tested its first thermonuclear device, with the Soviet Union quickly following suit.
"Only a few more swings of the pendulum, and, from Moscow to Chicago, atomic explosions will strike midnight for Western civilisation," the atomic scientists wrote at the time.
According to the Bulletin, the closest mankind has been to peace since the clock's inception was 17 minutes to midnight in 1991, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Until today, the clock stood a mere two-and-a-half minutes to midnight, the previous closest it had been to midnight since 1953. It was last updated in January 2017 following the election of US President Donald Trump.
In the announcement, scientists explained that nuclear weapons, a rise in nationalism and the Trump administration's disbelief in climate change were all cause to inch the clock half a minute closer to armageddon - the first time a fraction had been used in the clock's history.
"In 2017, we find the danger to be even greater, the need for action more urgent," the Bulletin wrote last year. "It is two and a half minutes to midnight, the clock is ticking, global danger looms. Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way."
Trump's recent threats of war against North Korea, as well as his reversal of US climate change measures, are both likely to have been factors in the new position of the doomsday clock.
The doomsday clock has only changed position 23 times since the clock's inception, so the fact that that has changed just a year after it was last updated shows how fast things are moving in these turbulent times.
Let's hope that next time the doomsday clock moves back rather than forward. Otherwise total destruction will be a bit too close for comfort.
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