Science Hub

Citing Climate Change As Looming Threat, Doomsday Clock Moves Ahead to Three Minutes to Midnight

ClockIn 1947 members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’s Science and Security Board introduced the concept of the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic representation of the world’s proximity to a global catastrophe.

Since its inception the meaning of the clock’s countdown has been further expanded to include the imminent threat posed by climate change, and it’s that same threat that recently prompted the Bulletin to update the clock’s reading ahead two minutes to 23:57 (three minutes to midnight.)

"In 2015, unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity," the Bulletin’s statement on the update explains. "World leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth."


Historically the Clock’s reading has shifted back and forth in response to the behavior of the world’s various superpowers. The Clock has read 23:57 twice before (1949 and 1984), both times following the escalation of nuclear arms by a particular international actor. Climate change was added to the Clock’s list of influential factors in 2007 and was related to both of its most recent adjustments in 2010 and 2012. The clock has only once read 23:58 (two minutues to midnight) once back in 1953 during the U.S. and Soviet Union tests of thermoculear devices during the Cold War. 

"We call upon world leaders to take coordinated and rapid action to drastically reduce global emissions of heat-trapping gases, especially carbon dioxide," said Richard Somerville, a member of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Science and Security Board. "We also urge the citizens of the world to demand action from their leaders. This threat looms over all of humanity. We all need to respond now, while there is still time."

Neil deGrasse Tyson Sciences The Meaning Of Life: VIDEO

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Astrophysicist extraordinaire Neil deGrasse Tyson hosted a lecture on the 15th at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston, and as  part of his presentation took some questions from the audience. One of those who spoke up was six-year-old "Young Jack" - which sounds like the name of a Scott Pilgrim character - who wants to be Neil deGrasse Tyson when he grows up, who enquired, "What's the meaning of life?"

Tyson, only mildly caught off guard by the question, went into a long and insightful response, saying in part,

To learn is to become closer to nature, and to learn how things work gives you power to influence events, gives you power to help people who may need it, the power to help yourselves, to shape a trajectory. So, when I think of 'What is the meaning of life?' to me that's not an eternal, unanswerable question. To me, that is in arm's reach of me every day. And so for you, at age six-and-three-quarters, may I suggest that for you, you should explore nature as much as you possibly can, and occasionally that means getting your clothes dirty because you might want to jump into puddles and your parents don't want you to do that. You tell them that I gave you permission.

The video is terrible - and vertical! - but the audio on the recording is just fine, so you can watch Tyson's full response AFTER THE JUMP...

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The Evolution Of Dogs, With Bill Nye: VIDEO

Bill Nye

Following up his delightful video explaining evolution with emojis, science guy Bill Nye delves into the evolution of the dog. While not an in-depth dissertation - the video is only 3.5 minutes, after all - he hits on the major points, such as how the evolution of dogs was very likely a deliberate human intervention. Domestic foxes, for example, develop doglike physical characteristics such as floppy ears in as little as three generations.

He also ties in the comparison between breed and race, in that both are artificial constructs. Two dogs, whatever the breed, will result in more dogs; two humans, whatever the race, will result in more humans.

You can watch him explain it all AFTER THE JUMP...

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Watch Derby The Dog Run On 3D Printed Front Legs - VIDEO

  Derby the Dog

Pioneering 3D printing company 3D Systems and Derby's foster mom Tara Anderson have come to the rescue of Derby, a dog born with deformed front legs by creating a set of 3D-printed prosthetic limbs.

Get a dose of the feels as Derby finds a dandy dog's life with the help of technology, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Bill Nye Explains Evolution Using Emojis: VIDEO

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 4.36.48 PM

Scientist Bill Nye uses emojis to explain the theory of evolution in a recent YouTube video. Right wingers will no doubt continue to deny evolution's validity despite how easy Nye makes the subject to understand. Watch Nye break things down in a digestible, fun way for the rest of us AFTER THE JUMP...

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Lexicon Valley Explores the Origins of the 'Gay Voice' - LISTEN


Slate magazine’s Lexicon Valley podcast typically takes a deeper look at the social underpinnings of different words. This week, however, Slate’s Mike Vuolo, WNYC’s Bob Garfield, and University of Minnesota professor Benjamin Munson unpack the recent history and contemporary research of the often maligned “gay voice.”

Often dismissively attributed to an inherent affinity for femininity the gay voice, Munson explains, is rooted in a number of culturally complex social practices.

“If you think about what people thought about homosexuality in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, you know they still thought about it in very freudian terms as a state of arrested psychosocial development.

And so if you think of it as, you know, gay men are in an arrested childlike state of psychosocial development, it just stands to reason then that gay men would produce speech in a childlike way. And one of the most salient stereotypes of what children sound like is a speech error like a frontal ‘s.’”

Give this week's episode of Lexicon Valley a listen AFTER THE JUMP...

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