The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists informs the public about threats to the survival and development of humanity from nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies in the life sciences. Through an award-winning magazine, our online presence, and the Doomsday Clock, we reach policy leaders and audiences around the world with information and analysis about efforts to address the dangers and prevent catastrophe. With fellowships for students and awards to young journalists, we help educate the next generation.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was established in 1945 by scientists, engineers, and other experts who had created the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project. They knew about the horrible effects of these new weapons and devoted themselves to warning the public about the consequences of using them. Those early scientists also worried about military secrecy, fearing that leaders might draw their countries into increasingly dangerous nuclear confrontations without the full consent of their citizens.
The Doomsday Clock
In 1947, the Bulletin first displayed the Clock on its magazine cover to convey, through a simple design, the perils posed by nuclear weapons. The Clock evokes both the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero). In 1949, the Clock hand first moved to signal our assessment of world events and trends. The decision to move the minute hand is made by the Bulletin's Board of Directors in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 18 Nobel Laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world's vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies in the life sciences.
When we moved the hand of the Clock from 7 to 5 minutes to midnight in January 2007, the Bulletin's Board of Directors warned about two major sources of potential catastrophe: the perils of 27,000 nuclear weapons in the world, 2,000 of them ready to launch in minutes, and the destruction of human habitats from climate change.
The Bulletin publishes information from leading scientists and security experts who explore the potential for terrible damage to societies from human-made technologies.
We focus as well on ways to prevent catastrophe from the malign or accidental use of nuclear, carbon-based, and biology-based technologies. After all, these technologies are ones that we create; it is in our power to channel them solely for benign purposes.
The Bulletin bridges the gap between experts and lay audiences. We identify the most authoritative experts and publish their reports in print and online for distribution to policy leaders and the broader public. We stimulate those on the forefront of research to communicate directly with a public eager for firsthand and authoritative perspectives. We contribute to public discussion and help shape the global security agenda.
We convey technical information with clarity and flair. We received the 2007 National Magazine Award for General Excellence for our capacity to translate the esoteric language of nuclear weapons policy and other technical aspects of international security into readable and lively presentations.
In making the award, the judges wrote: "Six decades after its founding by a group of physicists, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists remains steadfast in its clarion call that the world has not yet tamed the nuclear beast. The Bulletin remains relevant today because of its persuasive insight into the range of causes for our eroding global security. Its iconic Clock now ticks more urgently than ever. . . . [The general excellence award] honors the effectiveness with which writing, reporting, editing and design all come together to command readers' attention and fulfill the magazine's unique editorial mission."