Vox video contributor Nicholas Garbaty explains the history the Doomsday Clock, and how scientists determine where it should be set. The clock was first designed in 1947, and its hands have moved closer or further from midnight over the years based on various sociopolitical factors.
The Doomsday Clock began as a graphic on the first edition of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ magazine. Since then, the Bulletin has used the clock as a symbol for their interpretation of humanity’s approach toward the end of times, changing the time as new threats arise or old threats resolve. Originally, the Bulletin only changed the time when they felt the threat of nuclear weapons became more or less imminent, but the clock today reflects other types of threats as well, from climate change to cybersecurity to reckless language to Donald Trump.