For a lot of people, there’s nothing scarier than death. At Trinity College Dublin, this fear is embodied at the Science Gallery. A beautiful and intriguing museum, it is currently displaying an exhibition about survival and the end of the world. Titled “In Case of Emergency,” it looks into humanity’s end. Exhibits range from an interactive “Situation Room,” in which six people make off-the-cuff decisions on how they would react to crises if they were in charge of the government, to “The Marker Project,” a painting series that speculates how a government would warn people 10,000 years in the future, given that language will have completely changed, of the danger of a nuclear waste site. At a varied and extraordinary museum, my personal favorite exhibit was titled “Doomsday Clock.”
The Doomsday Clock is a model created in 1947 by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that is intended to warn humanity of how close it is to the end of the world. When the clock strikes midnight, the apocalypse begins, and humanity crumbles. The clock was initially set at seven minutes to midnight, an arbitrary number. At the time of the idea’s creation, nuclear war was the biggest threat to human survival. In 2007, climate change was added to the decision-making process. In total, the clock has been reset 22 times. The most recent change brought it a mere two and a half minutes from midnight in 2017. This is the closest it’s been since 1953, when nuclear disaster was just two minutes away with both the United States and the Soviet Union getting their hands on the atomic bomb. Global catastrophe has never been more distant than 17 minutes, when in 1991 America and Russia began slowly dealing away their nuclear arsenals in the wake of the Cold War.
The clock shows just how truly fragile world peace is. It is particularly intriguing today, especially for Americans with Donald Trump in power, it seems the only thing keeping us from all-out nuclear war is the touch of a very sensitive individual’s fingers. And possibly even more intriguing is the climate change facet of the clock – though nuclear war is a terrifying, immediate possibility, climate change is an inevitable monstrosity that only leaders with true foresight seem willing to engage with. Regardless, this exhibit truly is thought-provoking, and I would highly recommend it to any who find themselves in Dublin.