Bomb and I go back. In Seattle, where I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, it was common knowledge that in the event of a nuclear war, we were number 2 on the target list because Seattle was home to Boeing, the home of the B-52 bomber. Minuteman missiles.
At school we had different drills for different disasters and we had to remember which one it was. Earthquake? run outside Ბombi? Run inside, down an inner corridor that had no windows. In the summer, my high school friends and I would disappear into the backcountry of the Cascades or the Olympic Mountains for weeks at a time. I always wondered if we would show up to find the world in ashes.
Once, in Santa Monica in 1971, I thought it was finally happening. I woke up on the floor, on a February morning, I jumped out of bed. A huge roar was heard. Everything was shaking. I went to one of my windows and pulled back the curtain, expecting to see a mushroom cloud rising over the Los Angeles basin. I didn't see anything. When the radio came back on, I heard that there had been a deadly earthquake in the San Fernando Valley.
I was sent on this trip down memory lane statement January 23 from the Bulletin of Atomic Science that he decided not to change the doomsday setting, a metaphorical clock invented in 1947 as a way to dramatize the threat of nuclear Armageddon. The clock was originally created in a 15-minute range that counts down to midnight—the stroke of doom—and the watchmen change it from time to time in response to current events, which now include threats like climate change and pandemics.
In 1991, in a burst of optimism, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the signing of the first strategic arms reduction treaty, the clock turned back 17 minutes to midnight. “The Cold War is over,” The editors of the bulletin wrote. “The 40-year East-West nuclear arms race is over.”
A year ago, after Russia invaded Ukraine and threatened to use nuclear weapons, the clock was set to 90 seconds to midnight, the closest it's ever been to the end. Since then, the threat of nuclear weapons in Ukraine has receded, but the clock remains 90 seconds to zero.
This year's announcement came on the same day that “Oppenheimer,” Christopher Nolan's biopic about the man who directed the invention of the bomb, received 13 Oscar nominations. In an interview before the film's release, Mr. Nolan described Robert J. Oppenheimer as the most important man in history because his invention either made war impossible or doomed us to destruction.