The Bulletin has reset the minute hand on the Doomsday Clock 24 times since its debut in 1947, most recently in 2020 when we moved it from two minutes to midnight to 100 seconds to midnight. Every time it is reset, we’re flooded with questions about the internationally recognized symbol. Here are answers to some of the most frequent queries.

The Doomsday Clock is a design that warns the public about how close we are to destroying our world with dangerous technologies of our own making. It is a metaphor, a reminder of the perils we must address if we are to survive on the planet.

When the Doomsday Clock was created in 1947, the greatest danger to humanity came from nuclear weapons, in particular from the prospect that the United States and the Soviet Union were headed for a nuclear arms race. The Bulletin considered possible catastrophic disruptions from climate change in its hand-setting deliberations for the first time in 2007.

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Benedict is a senior adviser to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and served as Executive Director and Publisher from 2005 until she retired in February 2015.