Lawrence Krauss, the celebrity physicist who has become embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal, has resigned as chair of the elite scientific organization responsible for the “Doomsday Clock.” That symbolic clock, maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, is intended to warn how close humanity is to a nuclear apocalypse.
On Feb. 22, BuzzFeed News revealed a long history of allegations against Krauss, including unwanted touching of women and making inappropriate comments to students and employees. He has denied all of the allegations, and reiterated his denial in his resignation letter to the Bulletin today.
“Amid the reactions immediately following the recent BuzzFeed article about me, I expect that many Bulletin subscribers and fans were upset. I want to assure them, and you, that the claims about me in the story are incorrect,” he wrote. “BuzzFeed was provided with abundant counter-evidence that was ignored or distorted in the story.”
Krauss has chaired the board of sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 2009. His resignation letter indicates that fellow board members urged him to step down to avoid becoming a distraction:
“I appreciate the kind words you relayed from my colleagues on the board and understand from our discussions that the board feels that as a result of the various reactions to the article my presence on the Board of Sponsors at this time distracts from the ability of the Bulletin to effectively carry out that work.”
In a brief statement, Bulletin President Rachel Bronson said: “Lawrence Krauss has been a valued member of the Board, and has greatly contributed to the Bulletin’s mission during this perilous moment in global affairs.”
The Bulletin was founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and former Manhattan Project scientists who were concerned about the destructive power of the weapons they had created. It publishes a well-respected journal, and its board of sponsors includes 15 Nobel laureates.
The group’s Doomsday Clock serves as a symbolic warning of the threat of nuclear annihilation. The scientists who decide whether to move the clock’s hands nowadays also consider the threat of climate change.
In January, Krauss and other board members moved the clock’s hands from two and a half minutes to two minutes to midnight, in response to increasing tensions over nuclear threats and denial by political leaders of the science of climate change.
Krauss’s resignation from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists follows the American Physical Society’s decision to withdraw his invitation to its April meeting. And on Monday the Center for Inquiry, a leading group in the US skeptic community that promotes reason and science, suspended its association with him. Krauss had been an honorary member of CFI’s board of directors since 2011.