On September 26, 1983, the USSR's missile early warning defense system mistook the sun's reflection off a cloud bank for five inbound US Minuteman ICBMs and began to flash the LAUNCH warning at the Soviet Union's missile command: Stanislav Petrov, the missile commander on duty, ignored the computer warning and forestalled a nuclear war that could have effectively ended human civilization.
After the Cold War, Petrov would receive a number of commendations for saving the world. He was honored at the United Nations, received the Dresden Peace Prize, and was profiled in the documentary The Man Who Saved the World. “I was just at the right place at the right time,” he told the filmmakers. He died in May 2017, at the age of 77. Two new books about the Petrov incident and other nuclear close calls in 1983 (related to the NATO exercise Able Archer) came out just this year: Taylor Downing’s 1983 and Marc Ambinder’s The Brink.
And for Petrov Day, 2018, the Future of Life Institute gave a $50,000 prize to Petrov’s daughter, Elena.Her brother, Petrov’s son Dmitry, missed the ceremony because of visa delays. “That a guy can’t get a visa to visit the city his dad saved from nuclear annihilation is emblematic of how frosty US-Russian relations have gotten, which increases the risk of accidental nuclear war,” Max Tegmark, an MIT professor and cofounder of the Future of Life Institute, commented in a statement.
35 years ago today, one man saved us from world-ending nuclear war
(Image: Queery-54, CC BY-SA, modified)
My latest LA Times review is for William Gibson's new novel Agency, sequel to his outstanding 2014 novel "The Peripheral," which marked his return to explicitly futuristic science fiction after his amazing and audacious "Pattern Recognition" novels, which treated the recent past as though it was a speculative future setting.
Joan and Peter Foldes directed this incredible animation, titled “A Short Vision,” in 1956. The couple created the film — based on a poem by Peter — in their kitchen. It was funded by a grant from the British Film Institute’s Experimental Film Fund. From Wikipedia: Ed Sullivan saw A Short Vision in England, and […]
Climate change. Pandemics. Nuclear war. While these are undoubtedly devastating realities or possibilities, could they wipe out humanity entirely? Highly unlikely, writes Seth Shostak, senior astronomer for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute. From Quartz: A century ago, the Spanish flu caused a staggering 20-50 million deaths, more than WWI. Still, the toll amounted […]
Entrepreneurs looking for new avenues to reach customers may not have considered one of the fastest-growing content mediums today: podcasting. And we don’t mean just dropping an advertisement for your product or service in the middle of a popular show. Right now, there are about 850,000 active podcasts reaching 165 million Americans. Those listeners are […]
Twitter rants and various online ugliness aside, social media has actually grown up a bit over the past 15 years. In general, users are warier of their interactions on platforms like Facebook or Instagram — and marketers have taken note. In fact, if you felt retailers you saw on social media were only looking to […]
Virus quarantines and shuttered restaurants sent millions of Americans back to their homes, only to rediscover the joys of firing up an oven and cooking something special for themselves. Whether by desire, necessity, or both, many of us have certainly been spending more time in the kitchen these last few months. And we haven’t just […]