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Five Minutes to Midnight

The University of Chicago publishes the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a magazine about topics related to nuclear technology. On the cover of every issue of the magazine, there is a picture of a clock. Since it first appeared, the time on the clock has ranged between 11:43 and 11:58. The time it shows does not indicate the time of day, though. Instead, the time displayed represents how close we are to midnight, a time symbolizing the destruction of mankind.

The idea for the clock came about in 1947, shortly after atomic bombs had been dropped on Japan. Scientists had seen the destructive power of these weapons, and they concluded that nuclear war would be a catastrophe for the entire planet. They created the doomsday clock to show how close humans had come to destroying themselves. The first time it showed was 11:53. After that, the clock has been turned ahead or back based on world events. In 1949, when the Soviet Union tested its first atomic bomb, for example, the clock was turned ahead four minutes, to 11:57. In 1953, with the US and USSR both testing more destructive nuclear weapons within months of each other, it was turned ahead another minute. The clock has never been that close to midnight before or since.

These days, the threat of global nuclear war is much lower. However, scientists have added global warming and other factors like nanotechnology to their calculations of the time for the doomsday clock. As a result, the clock is currently at 11:55, five minutes to midnight. Of the nineteen times the doomsday clock has displayed over the years, this one is the fifth-closest to 12:00. It is a silent warning that global affairs are currently heading towards destruction, and it reminds us to be careful in order to keep time from running out.

     
  1.

What first caused scientists to create the doomsday clock?

       
    (A) Russia's first atomic test.
    (B)

The atomic bomb attack on Japan.

    (C) The publication of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
    (D) A worldwide natural disaster.
       
  2. Which event would be most likely to cause the clock's time to be turned ahead?
       
    (A) A major peace treaty being signed by two countries.
    (B)

The invasion of one powerful nation by another.

    (C) One of the important stock markets crashing.
    (D) The extinction of an important species of animal.
       
  3. How is the current doomsday clock different from the original clock?
       
    (A)

It is based on more than just the problem of nuclear war.

    (B) Its time is the closest to 12:00.
    (C) Nuclear war is no longer part of its calculations.
    (D) Its time is fixed at 11:55 since the threat of nuclear war is gone.
       
  4. The current time on the doomsday clock indicates that the world is _____.
       
    (A) unlikely to experience anything bad any time soon
    (B) already certain to be destroyed by mankind
    (C) in more danger now than ever before
    (D)

getting dangerously close to the destruction of human being

       
      catastrophe   a sudden event that causes very great trouble or destruction
           
      doomsday   the end of the world
           
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  Answers : 1) B    2) B    3) A    4) D
 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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