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I ran my own blog from November 2006 till October 2014. All posts are still online, but I don't have time to update it anymore. Please note that all images and media files have been removed when the backup was moved to a new host in early 2016. Enjoy!

The Man Who Saved The Earth

8. november 2007

Stanislaw Jewgrafowitsch Petrow, Lieutenant Colonel of the Soviet army, is the man who prevented a potential nuclear war. On September 26th 1983, only minutes after midnight, the Soviet electronic early warning system detected US missiles heading to the USSR. Petrow refused to believe that the alarm was genuine as only five missiles had been detected (while one would expect mirads of ICBMs in case of an actual attack) and concived his superiors not to take any actions, preventeing a Third World War and eventually saving the Earth.

The reliability of the satellite system had been questioned before, and the missiles were later identified to have been sun reflections on clouds in the proximity of the Malmstrom Air Force base in Montana. US intercontinental missiles were stationed there, which explains why the reflections had been misinterpreted as rocket launches.

Petrow violated several directives by refusing to take further actions and the incident revealed weaknesses of the Soviet military system. He was neither rewarded nor punished afterwards, but his promising career found a sudden end as his actions were generally not appreciated. 

Because of military secrecy and political tensions the incident was kept secret until 1998. Today, Petrow is a poor man living in a small village close to Moscow.