Check the Doomsday Clock

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists was created by scientists who saw an immediate need for a public reckoning in the aftermath of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  These scientists anticipated that the atom bomb would be “only the first of many dangerous presents from the Pandora’s Box of modern science.” They now see multiple threats: climate change, cyber-attacks, and the misuse of genetic engineering and artificial intelligence.

They also created the Doomsday Clock as a symbol of these threats. I check it out when a new year is beginning. Founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet.

The Doomsday Clock is many things all at once: It’s a metaphor, it’s a logo, it’s a brand, and it’s one of the most recognizable symbols in the past 100 years. It has permeated not only the media landscape but also culture itself. The Doomsday Clock appears in novels by Stephen King and Piers Anthony, songs by The Who and the Clash, and comic books and graphic novels like Watchmen and Stormwatch.

They haven’t posted the 2023 version yet, but in 2022 we were “At doom’s doorstep: It is 100 seconds to midnight.”

“Leaders around the world must immediately commit themselves to renewed cooperation in the many ways and venues available for reducing existential risk. Citizens of the world can and should organize to demand that their leaders do so—and quickly. The doorstep of doom is no place to loiter.”

It has held at 100 seconds for the past three years, which I suppose could be considered to be a few ticks of optimism since in 2018 and 2019 it was at 120 seconds to a midnight apocalypse.

What do you think it will be for the start of 2023 – closer to midnight, the same or moved back a bit?

Last year’s announcement video.

The End and Stephen Hawking

Some of Stephen Hawking’s predictions are things that I don’t want to be around to see as they focus on the end of human life on Earth.

For one thing,Hawking was quite fearful of the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). He joined in an open letter with other scientists saying that when AI becomes equal to or exceeds human intelligence, the “robots” were likely to destroy the human race.

But he also feared an old enemy – ourselves. He feared that human aggression in the form of something like a major nuclear war could lead to the extinction of the human race.

And he warned about another enemy – alien life. He was of the belief that if intelligent alien life does exist, it is more likely not to be friendly towards humans. Conquering and colonizing Earth would be their logical plan for Earth.

I had heard these and other theories of Hawking’s in a 2010 documentary, Into the UniverseHis is a rather pessimistic view of the future. The depletion of our natural resources and the warming of the planet until it is as inhospitable as Venus are also possibilities for the end of us in his predictions.

I hope he’s wrong about all of these futures.

Enjoy the Solstice, Because Next Year…

Yes, today is the winter solstice.  Just one year to go until the solstice of 2012. You’ll be hearing more about that one throughout 2012. If you have been living in a remote cave or have been shipwrecked on a desert island, you missed a lot of hype about the next winter solstice.

It surprised me to discover that I have referenced 2012 on this blog more than a dozen times in one form or another.  Most of those references are about the end of the Mayan “Long Count Calendar.”  December 21, 2012, the next winter solstice, is when the Maya calculated that calendar would end. Not the end of the world, as some people say, but the end of a 5,126-year era.

The Long Count is a part of the Maya calendar which is circular. When we reach the end of the circle, we begin again like our January 1 new year. I’m not frightened of the end of the world because though because the Maya actually had names for much longer time spans than we are used to considering, like a calabtun which is about 158,000 of our years. So, I think we have some time.

But, if you through in some science and note that on the 2012 winter solstice the sun will be aligned with the center of the Milky Way for the first time in about 26,000 years – well, you get all kinds of theories. One is that whatever energy typically hits Earth from the center of the Milky Way will be disrupted. And that means…

Terence McKenna had plotted what he called “novelty” peaks that would occur after his death in 2000. One point he marked was near September 11, 2001 (terrorist attack on New York City) and November 2008 (election of Barack Obama). He also noted a spike in novelty for 12/21/12. People even like the way those numbers look on a page.

McKenna claimed that he arrived at that date without knowing about the Maya calendar’s “end” date. Ah, yes, synchronicity. Or coincidence. McKenna also claimed to be the first person to suggest in print (1975) that the winter solstice was moving closer and closer to the point on the ecliptic where it will eclipse the galactic center.

Along with Peter Meyer, he created a computer program called “Timewave Zero” that took his theories and created time maps based upon them.

Others have agreed with the overall suggestion of McKenna’s calculations. One theory suggests a galactic alignment which would create chaos on Earth because of the gravitational effect between the Sun and the Black Hole called Sagittarius A, which is located at the center of our galaxy.

A second theory I have heard involves a “polar shift” which means a reversal of the north and south magnetic poles. This is not science-fiction. Many scientists believe that the Earth is overdue for a geomagnetic reversal. But that’s a longterm process (up to 5,000 years) to complete. And no one would be able to mark a starting time unless they were looking back at the event. Other scientists say a polar shift is almost impossible because although continents do actually move slowly in time, a magnetic reversal in the next few millennia is unlikely and most likely wouldn’t cause any harm to life on Earth.

NASA scientists have concluded that 12/21/12 will be a normal December solstice. They say that no planetary alignments will occur in the next few decades and, if they did, the effects on us would be negligible.

Here in Paradelle, our solstice festival will be very traditional on that longest night of the year – evergreens, bright illumination, a fire, some feasting, being with loved ones, some dancing and singing. It worked for the ancients.

More posts on 2012

Just Another Judgment Day

I saw a billboard in Rockaway, New Jersey yesterday that said “Judgment Day is coming May 21.” It wasn’t a movie promo.

It’s one of three dozen billboards like it in New Jersey communities. I’m imagining all the commuters driving along and wondering about the apocalypse as they head for work.

They were put up by a California radio station that is headed up by 89-year-old Howard Camping. His Family Radio  has supposedly put 1000 billboards nationwide.

The NJ newspaper The Star-Ledger did an article and pointed out that NJ is more Catholic and Catholics don’t have a prediction for the end of this world.

In the Bible, God tells Noah the world will end in seven days. He starts building and filling up his ark. All his friends and neighbors think he is crazy. (You’ve seen the movies.)  Do the calculations. From what I read, a  Bible day equals 1000 years. The flood was calculated as being in 4990 BC.  Those in the know add 7000 plus one  (for the missing “zero” year) and you come to 2011.  Students of eschatology (that branch of theology that examines the end of the world) and the Bible say that if you translate a month and date from the Hebrew calendar to the Gregorian calendar, you end up with May 21.

That’s the Judgment Day. Then comes the gathering of saved souls and five months of chaos and tribulation. All of that brings us to the end of the world on October 21. (Great. The day after my birthday.)

The group of believers known as the Adventists were convinced that the end would be October 22, 1844. That one was wrong.

Howard Camping got it wrong once before. He wrote a book called 1994 that picked that year as the year of the Second Coming.  Others came up with the same date. Didn’t happen.

Warnings of the end times are more popular in times of strife and stress. I wrote about this just a few weeks ago (see World’s End) and our current economic tough times and earthquakes, tsunamis, revolutions and war adds lots of fuel to the end times talk.

And this doesn’t have any real connection to all the Mayan calendar’s 2012 end date, (NOT the end of the world, by the way) but it all adds spice to the mix.

When the news reads like something from the Gospel of Luke and  it does seem like nations are rising against nation, and great earthquake in diverse places. I haven’t seen any famines or pestilences lately. I don’t count the occasional birds falling out of the sky stories. In a Star-Ledger article this past weekend, a NJ Department of Agriculture suggested perhaps a pestilence of bedbugs, brown marmorated stink bug. The emerald ash borer would be the end of the world – if you are an ash tree.

The popular “Left Behind” series” of 16 books (and a few movies) about the Rapture have been around since 1995. They deal with a  “Christian dispensationalist End Times, pretribulation, premillennial, Christian eschatological viewpoint of the end of the world.”  I don’t think anyone read them and expected there to really be a Tribulation Force battling a Global Community led  by Nicolae Carpathia—the Antichrist. But they certainly got many people (especially young people) thinking about it.

May 21 is a Saturday and October 21 is a Friday,  so I’ll be here in Paradelle for both days. I hope everyone else is around too.

The Color of Anxiety

The color of anxiety is gold. It’s a popular color today because we are in anxious times. You’ll see it in print ads and you’ll see it on television commercials – especially late at night when the anxious can’t sleep.

Buy gold.

It’s your personal hedge fund. When you can’t trust putting your remaining money anywhere else, buy gold.

People have been preparing for the worst – stock market crashes to apocalypse – by having gold. Within a few clicks of this web page, there are investment and survivalist pages that will explain the why and how of gold.

When Ron Paul made his presidential run last time around, he used the Net well for fundraising. He knew where his base was doing searches. TEOTWAWKI The end of the world as we know it. Paul says that honest money is gold-backed money, and the U.S. cut its last link to that kind of money in 1971.

The decisions to leave gold behind go back earlier. There were bank panics and credit crises before WWI that had the government moving towards printing more money than gold.

High gold prices also has plenty of people selling their jewelry. Sentimental value? Forget it. Get rid of it for cash. You can mail it, go to stores and even sell it at parties held in people’s homes.

Gold – the substance – is pretty amazing. It can be pounded into a sheet so thin its transparent, but it won’t crack. They make it into wires thinner than a hair and it conducts electricity fine.  Implanted in your body it resists bacteria. It doesn’t rust.

One of my cousins has been stocking up on gold for years. He is a survivalist in the religious sense. The end is coming and the Bible tells him all about it.

I love talking to him about it because it never makes sense and we can go round and round on the subject. Shouldn’t he be happy for this end because he gets to go to heaven? No, because those last days will be horrible. Then why save gold? Are you going to barter for water and food with your gold and a gun? Seems like it would be better to just die than live through a Cormac McCarthy novel.

He was buying gold back in 2007 (pre-recession) when it was as low as $607 an ounce. Last December, he could tell me that it had doubled in value –  and its still up there. He maintains that it still hold its value from Biblical times.

Well, in January 1980, it was at $675 and in January 2001 it was $265. But he views that as holding its value because it was on par with everything else.

I considered buying one of those gold funds, but my cousin told me I needed to buy the real thing. No one will give me food and water for a paper that says I own gold.

But, the last time we talked about all this, he told me that he was moving into silver… What does he know that he isn’t telling me?