Being a native of Seattle in the 1950s and 60s, I have a history with bombs. There was always the lingering concern that in the event of nuclear war, Seattle would be one of the primary targets due to the presence of Boeing, which manufactured B-52 bombers and Minuteman missiles. This was a constant backdrop to my childhood, with drills for various catastrophes in school where we had to remember what to do in case of an earthquake versus a nuclear attack.
Summer getaways with friends into the wilderness were always overshadowed by the fear of emerging to a world in ashes. This fear was further ignited in 1971 when a massive earthquake struck Santa Monica, and I woke up to the thought that a nuclear blast was the cause of the chaos.
The recent announcement by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, regarding the Doomsday Clock, brought back these memories. The clock, initially created to symbolize the nuclear threat during the Cold War, was a stark reminder of the looming danger of nuclear annihilation. Even after moments of optimism, such as the end of the Cold War, the Doomsday Clock has continually warned about the imminent nuclear peril. With the recent threats from Russia and talks of nuclear war, the Clock is still positioned at 90 seconds to midnight, the closest it has ever been to doomsday.
The recent announcement coincided with the release of “Oppenheimer,” a movie that explores the life of Robert J. Oppenheimer, the man behind the creation of the atomic bomb. In an interview, the director, Christopher Nolan, described Oppenheimer as the most important figure in history, whose invention has shaped the world in ways that have either prevented war or brought about our demise.