Author Topic: The Man Who Saved the World  (Read 107 times)

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Offline W1RC

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The Man Who Saved the World
« on: January 19, 2018, 10:57:41 AM »
THE AUTUMN EQUINOX ONCE TRIGGERED THE SOVIET UNION’S EARLY WARNING SYSTEM. A SOLE SOVIET OFFICER, ACTING ON INSTINCT, PREVENTED WORLD WAR III.

Shortly after midnight on September 26, 1983, a Soviet early warning satellite indicated first one, then two, then eventually five US nuclear missiles had been launched at the Soviet Union. Tensions were high between the two countries—it was the height of the Cold War and the Soviet Union had downed a South Korean passenger plane just weeks before.

Checks showed the satellites were working correctly. The officer on duty, Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov, had a matter of minutes to respond to the apparent attack. Going partly on gut instinct and believing “when people start a war, they don’t start it with only five missiles,” Petrov told his commanders it was a false alarm before he knew that to be true.

Later investigations revealed that satellites mistook sunlight reflecting off the tops of clouds for missile launches. The orbit used by Soviet satellites was designed to minimize the chances of false alerts, but that night, shortly after the autumn equinox, satellites, sun, and US missile fields aligned in a way that maximized the sun’s reflection. Petrov’s actions earned him the nickname “the man who saved the world.” But if the satellite data had indicated the launch of a hundred missiles—or if a different officer had been on duty—this false alarm could easily have turned into catastrophe.


http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-24280831

If this a story scares the bejesus out of you, here are more:

https://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear-weapons/close-calls?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=fb#.WmHLjKZOmhB

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