Explaining the Design of the Peace Symbol

The peace symbol just celebrated its 60th birthday, but it had better not be thinking about retiring. Now that Putin has announced Russia has “invincible” new designs for nuclear weapons, including a nuclear underwater drone, we are going to need what that symbol represents more than ever.

Growing up, I thought the peace symbol was a B-52 bomber with a circle around it, meant to co-opt a symbol of warfare into one of peace. I was, of course, way wrong. Designed in 1958 by British designer Gerald Holtom, the peace symbol actually reads “N” and “D,” for “Nuclear Disarmament.” Not in the Roman alphabet; in semaphore.

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