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Which scenario is the most likely to end civilization as we know it?

By James Dacey

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On Tuesday, the famous Doomsday Clock swung a minute closer to midnight, suggesting that humanity has recently edged slightly nearer to self-destruction. The time on the Doomsday clock now reads five minutes to midnight, having being wound back to six minutes before midnight back in January 2010.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS), who created and control the clock, attributed the change to inadequate progress on nuclear weapons reduction and proliferation, and continuing inaction on climate change.

We have addressed this rather gloomy topic of Doomsday scenarios in this week’s Facebook poll in which we are asking the following question:

Which scenario is the most likely to lead to the end of civilization as we know it?

A nuclear world war
Runaway climate change
An asteroid impact
An act of bioterrorism
An alien invasion

To cast your vote, please visit our Facebook page. And, of course, if you believe that some other ghastly scenario is more likely to wipe bring us to an unsavoury end, please feel free to post a comment.

In last week’s poll we asked you to select the person you believe to be the greatest living physicist from a shortlist of five. It quickly became a two-horse race between the two Steves: Steven Weinberg and Stephen Hawking that is. But in the end Weinberg narrowly won out, gathering 36% of the vote, compared with Hawking’s 34%. In third place was Ed Witten, accruing 15% of the vote. In 4th place was Philip Anderson with 14%, and in last place was Franck Wilczek with just 2% of the vote.

The poll also attracted a lot of comments and various other scientists were proposed for this mantle of greatest living physicist. The suggestions included: Murray Gell-Mann, Leonard Susskind, Gerard ‘t Hooft, Sean Carroll and Peter Higgs.

Thank you for all of your votes and comments and we look forward to hearing from you again in this week’s poll. And we promise to ask a slightly more cheerful question next week!

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