The “Doomsday Clock” is a symbolic dial that shows the countdown to a global catastrophe (the closer to midnight, the greater the danger). In January 2018, the hands of the clock approached midnight for 30 seconds, showing 23:58. The hand has not come so close to the “end of the world” since 1953—since the first test of the hydrogen bomb. The history of man’s origin and development totals about 70,000 years, but only the last five centuries are marked by the rapid and phenomenal growth of his power. One of the most serious scientific breakthroughs that scientists have unravelled is the mystery of the energy contained in the atomic nucleus. In 1939, German physicists Otto Gahn, Fritz Strassmann and Austrian physicist Lisa Meitner experimentally confirmed the splitting of irradiated uranium nuclei—the heaviest element existing in nature. A year later, Soviet physicists Georgy Flerov and Konstantin Petrzhak conducted a successful experiment on the fission of uranium-235. At the same time in France, physicist Frederic Joliot-Curie and his colleagues received five patents for the creation of a nuclear reactor. In the U.S., the Uranium Committee was organized in 1939, and in 1943 the Manhattan Project began its work on a large-scale program to create a new kind of super weapons.

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