Skype conversation with John Mecklin:

Group: Armando Dollero, Ousmane Sow, Oscar Fossum

What questions did we ask?

  1. What inputs do you consider in calculating the time until midnight?
  2. About this idea of “misperception”: what happens if you get down to seconds? Do you fear that as the clock approaches midnight that the clock could lead to misperception with real consequences?


Why were these questions important?

  1. It is important to consider the inputs that go into calculating the amount of time to midnight on the Doomsday Clock because it questions whether there is a scientific method for determining the remaining time on the Doomsday Clock. This helps us decide whether the Doomsday Clock is a real representation of the nuclear situation, or if it is a device to create fear. A short amount of time until midnight can evoke fear.
  2. We locked into an idea of “misperception” that John mentioned in response to another group’s question. Using a device like this to publicize the “imminent arrival” of a nuclear apocalypse has implications on an international scale. Might other countries see a move of the minute hand as evidence that nuclear action has been made?


What was his response to the questions? (paraphrased)

  1. “It’s not a scientific calculations, but neither is it arbitrary. While there is not a scientific process for quantifying the amount of time that we adjust on the Doomsday Clock, I don’t find it an arbitrary representation of the current nuclear threat. Using a clock representation is one of the most effective visual ways of translating the reality of an existential nuclear threats to communicate the gravity to large groups of people.”
  2. “It’s a “real-estate problem. Once you’re closer to midnight, each minute towards midnight is a much closer move to midnight (i.e. it moves 50% from 2 minutes to 1 minute, but only 10% from 10 to 9). This “real-estate” problem is something we’re still considering, as it is important for us to be able to have meaningful visual representation of the changing nuclear threat. The Board will be discussing this issue of our “real-estate” problem very soon here.”