Posted by: drgeophysics | September 18, 2017

September 26, Stanislov Petrov day


The olds well remember how close the US and USSR came by nuclear war in the 1980’s.   Many people of this generation still have nightmares recalling preparing for the aftermath of such as almost unimaginable nightmare.  For younger people who didn’t live it, this dangerous global situation is simply unimaginable imo.

Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov was a 44 year old Soviet military officer on the front lines of this world and received a message on September 26, 1983 that the United States had launched five nuclear missiles towards Moscow.  For those of this age, nightmares about the results of such a strike are still common, this was an unimaginable scenario, now fully verified, checked and rechecked, or at least it seemed.  He had 20 minutes to determine what to do.   The bright red “Launch” button in front of him was activated and alarm sirens sounded throughout his command.   So would end the world.

Petrov was unusual for the commanders in this branch of the military, he was one of the few officers who had received a civilian education,  and reasoned that this was most likely a false alarm despite the high quality of the alarm and the multiple checks already applied.   Other false alarms include this 1979 event, and this 1983 NATO activity.

The world is very, very, very lucky that Lt. Col Petrov was on duty that evening.  His decision and action, not to launch,  took true courage, which he displayed.  Details from him, including an interview can be found here.

When you enjoy September 26, 2017, be sure to think of the late Stanislov Petrov (Sept 9, 1939-May 19, 2017).  We enjoy this world and day because of his actions:  A single person saving the world late in the evening, using his education and best thinking.

Want more? Oh yeah, there’s a movie too.


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