Stanislav Petrov, ring a bell?  Me either, but it should. This man probably single handedly saved the World.

Stanislav Petrov was a member of the Soviet Union's Air Defense Forces. His main job was to keep a monitor on the Soviet union's satellite system. He was on an overnight shifteearly in the morning hours on Sept 26, 1983. At this time we were at the height of the cold war with the Soviet Union.  Stanislav's job was to look for any possible nuclear weapon launches from the U.S.

When the center's computers sounded an alarm that missles had been launched from the United States, Stanislav was frozen and instead of pickinng up the phone he hesitaed, even though according to his computor, the missiles would hit The Soviet Union in aproximately 20 minutes.

"There was no rule about how long we were allowed to think before we reported a strike," Petrov told the BBC. "But we knew that every second of procrastination took away valuable time, that the Soviet Union's military and political leadership needed to be informed without delay. All I had to do was to reach for the phone; to raise the direct line to our top commanders — but I couldn't move. I felt like I was sitting on a hot frying pan."

"[Petrov] just had this feeling in his gut that it wasn't right. It was five missiles. It didn't seem like enough. So even though by all of the protocols he had been trained to follow, he should absolutely have reported that up the chain of command and, you know, we should be talking about the great nuclear war of 1983 if any of us survived."

Several minutes later Petrov checked the computer for malfunctions and guess what? he was correct.  Had he picked up the phone to report our planet might now be a floating cinder.

Check out this video from the BBC

(BBC/NPR)

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