What happens when the Doomsday Clock hits midnight?

SCIENTISTS are set to reveal how close they think humanity is to "existential catastrophe" with their annual Doomsday Clock.

The clock serves as a wake-up call to all about global threats such as nuclear war, dangerous technologies and mass health concerns such as coronavirus.

On Thursday, experts will decide where the clock should be set based on events from the past 12 months.

Last year, it was placed at 100 seconds to midnight, remaining at 2020's record-setting spot.

How does the Doomsday Clock move?

The Doomsday Clock serves as a metaphor for risks and dangers in the world.

A group of experts from different backgrounds decide every year how close they think we are to catastrophe, factoring in events from the past year.

They use a clock to illustrate how bad or good they think things are.

The closer to midnight, the more they deem we're at risk.

It started 75 years ago at seven minutes to midnight.

Since then, it has seen good days and bad, adjusting the hand accordingly.

So in 1953 it was placed at a worryingly near two minutes to midnight, afterwhen the US and Soviet Union tested hydrogen bombs.

But when the Cold War ended in the early '90s and things were looking positive, 1991 went all the way back to 17 minutes to midnight.

Worryingly, the clock is currently at its closest ever for two years running.

What happens when the Doomsday Clock hits midnight?

Midnight would mean that experts think things on Earth have become extremely bad, but it isn't really intended to reach midnight.

Remember, it's not an actual clock, nor a countdown, it just serves as a warning to sort things out.

In real terms, if the clock really did hit midnight, nothing would actually happen there and then anyway.

It is purely illustrative based on the opinions and predictions of the Science and Security Board that run it.

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What is the closest we have been to midnight on the Doomsday Clock?

2020 was the closest the Doomsday Clock has ever been in its history.

It was moved to 100 seconds to midnight, over concerns about nuclear war and climate change.

Experts described the international security situation as "dire", blaming world leaders for failing major arms control negotiations, political conflicts with Iran and North Korea, as well as poor US-Russia relations.

A year later in 2021, scientists kept the clock at 100 seconds.

This time, they blamed the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, saying it revealed "just how unprepared and unwilling countries and the international system are to handle global emergencies properly".

At 3pm GMT / 10am EST on Thursday, we'll find out whether the hand will tip even closer to midnight as the pandemic continues to be a problem.

In other news, personalised smart guns, which can be fired only by verified users, may finally become available to U.S. consumers this year.

Tech giant Microsoft is trying to make the world more woke by rolling out an “inclusiveness” checker in its Word software.

And a federal anti-trust case against Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, has been given the go-ahead.

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