Thirty-two years ago today, one guy decided not to start a nuclear war.
He was a Soviet military man named Stanislav Petrov, whose job at the time involved checking whether America had launched at nuclear missiles at Russia lately. If they had, he was to escalate this up the chain of command, where the standard strategy that would presumably be enacted would be for Russia to launch some of its nuclear missiles back at America.
On 26 September 1983, due to some technical glitch, it looked like America had launched a nuclear missile at Russia.
Stanislav Petrov decided not to report this to his superiors, and so Russia did not launch any of its nuclear missiles at America. No superpowers killed millions of each others’ citizens that day.
Let’s spare a moment today to appreciate the line of reasoning which led to this decision.