Doomsday Delayed by One Minute

Photo courtesy of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Not feeling optimistic about the future of life on earth? Well, the world’s atomic scientists are. On Thursday morning, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced that they had moved the Doomsday Clock– a symbolic timepiece wherein midnight signals the end of the world–back one minute, from 11:55 to 11:54. We can all sleep soundly now knowing the world is six minutes from self-destruction!

The move of the symbolic ticker reflects a “more hopeful state of world affairs,” the Bulletin announced, and reverses a trend of moving closer to a self-imposed end of time. The creators of the Manhattan Project created the clock in 1947 as a reminder that nuclear power could be abused to the point of ultimately destroying mankind. It’s now used to symbolize not just the threats of nuclear power, but also other man-made challenges, like climate change.

The decision to move the clock comes from the scientists and policy makers on the board of the Bulletin. “We are poised to bend the arc of history toward a world free of nuclear weapons,” the board said in a statement. “For the first time since atomic bombs were dropped in 1945, leaders of nuclear weapons states are cooperating to vastly reduce their arsenals and secure all nuclear bomb-making material. And for the first time ever, industrialized and developing countries alike are pledging to limit climate-changing gas emissions that could render our planet nearly uninhabitable.”

The Washington Post notes that this is the 19th time the clock has moved since 1947. It’s been moved forward 11 times and backward eight times:

It came closest to midnight in 1953, when the testing of hydrogen bombs nudged it to 11:58, and moved farthest away in 1991, when it slid to 11:43 after the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The clock has been steadily ticking toward midnight since the mid-’90s, as increased terrorism destabilized regions of the world and India and Pakistan tested nuclear bombs.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.