Fail Safe

The site
has an article
about a man who may have saved the world.
According to the report, on September 26, 1983, Lieutenant
Colonel Petrov was in charge (a Lt. Colonel, in charge?) of
the Soviet Ballistic Missile Early Warning System. He was the
man who was responsible for pressing the button that would
launch the Soviet missiles in retaliation to a US first

At about half-past midnight, Lt. Colonel Petrov’s
monitoring systems indicated that the US had in fact launched
a single missile towards the USSR. A few seconds later, two,
then three, four, and finally five in bound missiles were
supposedly detected.

Petrov was dumb founded. None of the launch scenarios he
had been trained for covered this contingency. Why launch
only five when the US had thousands of missiles? What to do?
He had but minutes to decide whether to irrevocably launch
the Soviet Union’s missiles against the US.

Fortunately, for everyone, he had the courage to make the
decision that this was a false alarm. Which indeed it was. A
“bug” in the warning system had created the false report.

Now, I don’t know if Petrov knew before hand the system
was riddled with problems but, in any case, having a human
being in the loop is what may have saved mankind from a
nuclear winter.



One response to “Fail Safe

  1. Sounds like a good scenarion for the work I do daily. Try to debug that on a live system … with a nanager ranting on about deadlines …