5 small misunderstandings that almost ruined the whole world
1. Cheap computer chip declares nuclear war
At two o'clock in the morning on June 3, 1980, one staff member of the United Command of the North American Air Defense (NORAD) checked the data of the instruments, and found that the device, which always showed “0 attacking missiles”, now shows “2 attacking missiles”. This was already enough to panic, but the next second the device reported "220 attacking missiles."
Alarms screamed across America. Bombers with atomic bombs on board began to take off into the air one by one. A launch preparation team arrived at the intercontinental ballistic missile launchers. For ten minutes the world was balancing on the verge of a nuclear apocalypse.
Fortunately, before the Americans had time to press the launch, someone noticed that hundreds of suspected warheads did not appear on the radar screens.The alarm was declared false, the bombers returned to their airfields and they all exhaled.
Clarifying the causes of the strange incident took three days. It turned out that the fault was a defective computer chip, worth 46 cents.
2. The accident at the telephone station almost led to a nuclear war
In the 1950s, the US Air Force built a network of early warning radar stations, which should, if anything, report on the Soviet flying missiles as early as possible. These stations were connected by special lines of communication with the main command of the Strategic Air Command of the Air Force in Nebraska, with air force bases, missile bases and the Joint Air Defense Command of the North American continent located in Wyoming.
So when, on November 24, 1961, the connection with the aviation command and radar stations was suddenly interrupted, a real panic began. It seemed that these stations were suddenly erased by someone from the face of the earth.
They tried to contact the stations via the backup line - it is useless. They tried to call ordinary city phones - long beeps and no answer.
A logical explanation for all this could be only one thing - the Soviet Union bombed all the radar stations, and at the same time the command of the air defense, and this, apparently,The first wave of deadly attacks, which can only be followed by the end of the world. Crews of strategic bombers B-52 across America have taken seats in their aircraft. For the next 12 minutes, the US Air Force waited for an order to begin the global extermination of the human race.
Fortunately for future generations, one of the B-52s was already in the air at that moment, and was just flying over one of these radar stations. Instead of the supposed smoking ruins, he saw the usual peaceful landscape with radar in its usual place. The pilot immediately reported this to where it should be and everyone calmed down.
And this is what happened: For some ridiculous technical reason, absolutely all the telephone lines connecting aircraft to the aforementioned bases and stations, including emergency and civilian, were served by the same relay station located in Colorado. There was an accident that night there, and all possible lines of communication between those in whose hands were nuclear weapons and those who could order not to use them were broken off.
3. United Command North America Air Defense Command (NORAD) informs America of the end of the world
An emergency alert system is usually used to warn citizens of impending danger such as a hurricane or tornado. In the United States, such a system was created during the Cold War years in case of a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union. She was tested every Saturday by sending meaningless teletype messages to all of America’s radio stations — just to check that there is a connection and everything works. It was a common practice, and no one paid particular attention to these messages until ...
On February 20, 1971, at 9:33 am, an ordinary civilian radio-telephony radio operator Weyland Eberhard, by distraction, launched into the alert system not the message that followed. Instead of the words “This is just a test”, NORAD sent a chilling message through the cities and villages of America that in a few minutes the president himself was going to address the nation.
In the understanding of the average American during the Cold War, there was only one reason why the president could break into a favorite with millions of shows with an urgent message. This could only mean one thing: atomic bombs are already flying from Russia.
Radio hosts across the country repeated the announcement of a mystical emergency, people rushed to call their relatives and friends, to speak all words in case of the end of the world and to ask each other for forgiveness for all sins.
NORAD employees realized what had happened, almost instantly, but, despite all the desperate efforts to cancel the alarm, for a long time they could not find the necessary code to certify the canceling message. So about 45 minutes, the nation was preparing for imminent death.
In the end, the code was found after all, the error message was sent and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
In this story there was another grave danger. The fact is that the USSR and the United States closely followed each other for any signs of a possible nuclear attack. If, for example, the Americans would suddenly begin, for no reason, to shove their citizens at bomb shelters, in Russia they could easily regard it as a sign of bad intentions and respond accordingly. So if the panic lasted a little longer, things could really end up very sad.
4. Virtual war is taken for terrifying reality.
This story began on November 9, 1979 at 9 am. One low-ranking air force officer sat down at a computer and downloaded a training program that simulated the launch of thousands of Soviet nuclear missiles. Towards America, naturally.
The officer did not know that this computer was connected to the central unit of the air defense hardware command. When he launched his program, computers from NORAD to the Pentagon began to report that all Russian atomic bombs were on their way to America. “They were absolutely sure that the rockets were about to be here,” recalled Senator Charles Percy.
Reports of the attack were sent to every missile launch site in America and an order to prepare for launch. Military aircraft began to fly into the air, preparing to shoot down Soviet bombers. The presidential air command center was ready for shipment, and could not take off just because no one could find Jimmy Carter.
Fortunately, the commander of NORAD decided to double-check the reality of the Soviet attack before giving the go-ahead and making Armageddon. He called the radar stations and asked what was happening there.They reported that nothing suspicious was observed and everything was clear.
Great luck that on that day even the phones worked fine.
5. Russia accepts scientific experiment for the beginning of the Third World War
On January 25, 1995, scientists from Norway launched an absolutely harmless rocket to study the northern lights. And although the Cold War had already ended several years ago, when the Russian radar recorded something similar to an American ballistic missile, panic began.
In accordance with the scenario developed for such a case, then President Boris Yeltsin had 10 minutes to decide on a retaliatory strike against the United States. As is known, the Russian president always carries with him a nuclear briefcase with a secret code, with which it can arrange a doomsday at any time. This was the first time the case was opened.
Fortunately, Yeltsin could not believe the reality of the threat and did not hurry to press the red button. A few minutes later it was reported that the rocket fell into the ocean, without causing anyone any harm.
Later it turned out that the Norwegian scientists for three weeks warned about the planned launch of 30 countries, including the Russian Federation. But this information was ignored.