It’s not that hard to build a nuclear bomb. Get your hands on some uranium and materials for enrichment, and you’re golden. While that’s a gross oversimplification, I was able to learn the steps to build a nuclear warhead by spending two hours with a YouTube lecture; and in 1999, two University of Chicago students built a working nuclear reactor in their dorm room. For a weapon with unimaginable consequences, that’s a frightening statement to be able to make. In fact, the U.S. has spent the last 78 years tailoring its international security policy to ensure that other countries can’t take advantage of widely available information on how to construct a nuclear bomb. Specifically, the U.S. has focused on keeping nuclear weapons out of high-tension areas, including the Middle East.
If you’ve been through a college application cycle, then you’ve surely heard of the U.S. News Best Colleges Rankings report, which prides itself on having “expert advice, rankings and data to help you navigate your education journey and find the best college for you.” But how accurate is this ranking? How heavily should we rely on its advice? The U.S. News ranking uses 17 “measures of academic quality” such as class size, faculty salary and graduation rate, which are then weighted on a 100-point scale. These factors do impact a student’s college experience. However, the report's focus misses critical aspects of what makes a school a good fit for its students, such as successful job placement in a field relevant to a student’s major, student happiness and a feeling of belonging on campus.
I’m currently reading a book called “Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus. The story follows chemist Elizabeth Zott through the trials and tribulations of being a female chemist in the 1950s. It’s full of romance, funny stories about parenthood and stories of misogyny and sexism. Although this novel is set in the 1950s, it seems more relevant than ever as we face the loss of women’s rights. Women’s rights and autonomy took a serious hit with the overturning ofRoe v. Wade last summer, and last week, Walgreens put women on notice regarding their ability to access medical care as they will not sell the abortion pill Mifepristone in 21 states. This decision, prompted by Republican attorneys general, is an extreme show of cowardice by Walgreens. Not only are Republicans interfering with personal healthcare decisions, but this choice has once again made access to abortion much more limited for women who don’t live in urban areas.
“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald is my favorite book. Other favorites of mine include “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “The Lord of the Flies” by William Golding and “Animal Farm” by George Orwell. All of these books, in addition to at least hundreds of others, have been challenged, banned or removed from libraries all over the United States. A book ban occurs when a person or a group objects to the content of a book, and through successful challenge, that book is removed from libraries and school curricula.
Time moves forward toward the next exam, next semester, graduation, the future. Unfortunately, that future could be cut short according to the Doomsday Clock, which now sits at 90 seconds to midnight. Despite its somewhat ominous nomenclature, the Doomsday Clock is not a crazy, cultish phenomenon about the world ending, but a scientific measurement of how close we are to global human catastrophe. Scientists at the University of Chicago created the Doomsday Clock in 1947 to warn humans of the dangers of human-made technologies, like nuclear weapons. Manhattan Project scientists who helped build the first atomic bomb opposed its use against people and subsequently formed theBulletin of Atomic Scientists. The Bulletin needed a cover design for the June 1947 edition of their magazine, so they asked artist Martyl Langsdorf. Martyl was married to physicist Alexander Langsdorf Jr., who worked on the Manhattan Project. Hearing countless discussions about nuclear weapons and the risk they pose to humanity, “she sketched a clock to suggest that we didn’t have much time left to get atomic weapons under control.” The Doomsday Clock’s status is reassessed every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board and its Board of Sponsors, a group that includes 13 Nobel laureates. It provides an authoritative assessment of the world’s current risk of annihilation by human-made technologies.
Talia Wilcox is a sophomore studying international relations.