Doomsday Clock to be moved for first time in two years

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The minute hand of the Doomsday Clock will be moved at 3pm GMT for the first time in two years.

The timepiece in New York is supposed to represent how close humanity is to catastrophic destruction – represented by midnight.

Created by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1947 - two years after the US dropped the first atomic bombs on Japan in World War II - it was first set at seven minutes to midnight.

Since then the Bulletin's scientific board, which includes Professor Stephen Hawking and 18 other Nobel laureates, has been changed 18 times.

The latest recorded time was two minutes to midnight in 1953 as the Cold War between the US and Soviet Union escalated. In 2007 it was wound on to five minutes to midnight, to reflect the failure to solve problems posed by nuclear weapons.

The clock's earliest setting was in 1991 when it was wound back to 17 minutes to midnight after the US and Soviet Union signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

On Friday the public will be able to watch the change for the first time via a live web feed.

It has not yet been revealed whether the clock is being moved closer to midnight or further away.

A spokesman for the BAS said: “Factors influencing the latest Doomsday Clock change include international negotiations on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, expansion of civilian nuclear power, the possibilities of nuclear terrorism, and climate change.”

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