You're Alive, Thanks To This Man

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Mr Scientific
Published at : 23 Jan 2021
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On 1st September 1983 a South Korean flight mistakenly entered Soviet airspace. Fearing a US attack, Soviets quickly shot it down. Killing 269 people on board, including 1 US congressman tensions were high, as Soviets thought US could attack.

Three weeks later on 26th September 1983, Soviet Union’s Nuclear Warning System became active and twice reported the launch of American Minuteman ICBM directly coming towards Russia from the US bases. Stanislav Petrov was an officer in Soviet Air Defense he was in a bunker command center at that time. When computers reported an ICBM attack Petrov considered the detection a computer error.

He thought a first-strike would involve 100s of missile launches to prevent the enemy from ever attacking back. After a few minutes, computers gave another warning this time it was 4 missiles in the air. Petrov again said that the system was malfunctioning and 5 missiles were very illogical start a Nuclear War. He asked everyone to stay calm and not do anything.

He was right. Later investigation showed that it was a mistake. The satellite warning system had malfunctioned due to a rare alignment of sunlight and satellite orbit. Petrov was honored by UN in 2006. A documentary was also made, The Man Who Saved the World. Petrov passed away in May 2017 at 77.

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