Seven times technology almost destroyed the world

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In this article, we take you through seven times technology almost destroyed the world. We discuss the year when this when happened, what triggered this, and what was the background. This is an interesting read for those of you who thing technology is a boon.

 

NOVEMBER 1961

CATEGORY

Nuclear Armageddon.

BACKGROUD

In the 1950’s the USA built a series of early warning radar systems which were designed to detect Russian nuclear strikes.

These radar systems were linked directly to strategic Air command and NORAD, from where the USA could coordinate a full scale nuclear assualt.

 

WHAT HAPPENED?

On November 24, 1961 all communications between the radar sites and strategic Air command suddenly went dead, signaling an attack. To make matters even worse, the SAC discovered that phone lines were dead, cutting off their communications with NORAD.

 

HOW CLOSE?

When three radar sites disappeared from the map, B-52 bomber crews started their engines, ready to launch.

Radio contact was eventually made with a B-52 fleet on airborne alert over Alaska, who confirmed the false alarm.

 

THE  CAUSE?

It turned out that all radar sites and phone lines were routed through a single relay station in Colorado, which had overheated and shut down, Phew.

 

OCTOBER 1962

CATEGORY

Nuclear Armageddon.

BACKGROUND

At the height of the Cuban missile crisis and with Cold War paranoia at an all time high, a guard at Duluth sector direction center spotted a shadowy figure climbing the security fence. Quite rightly, he activated the sabotage alarm.

 

WHAT HAPPENED?

The sabotage alarm set off additional alarms at all surrounding air force bases.

The problem however, was thst at one base-york field, Wisconsin, the wrong alarm went off. Yep, you guessed it. It was the alarm that signalled the start of World War III.

 

HOW CLOSE?

The timing couldn’t have been worse. The USA was at DEFCON 3 for the first time in its history and bomber crews were at full readiness. knowing that there would be no practice drills while DEFCON 3 was in force, asquandron of nuclear armed F-106A interceptors started to take off.

Only a single car racing down the runway and flashing its lights prevented the planes from taking off.

“WoW”.

THE CAUSE?

Someone had incorrectly wired the alarm system at Volk Field and mixed up the sabotage siren with the World War III Has just started siren… Oh, and the original intruder turned out to be a curious bear.

 

NOVEMBER 1979

CATEGORY:

Nuclear  Armageddon.

BACKGROUND

With America and Russia fighting proxy wars in Afghanistan, South America and Southern Africa, tensions were predictably high in 1979.

 

WHAT HAPPENED?

At 8.50am on November 9, 1979 the Pentagon, NORAD and the SAC watched in horror of a soviet nuclear attack appear on their screens.

launch control centers for America’s Minutemen ballistic missles recieved a preliminary launch warning and started working through the lainch sequence.

 

HOW CLOSE?

For a full 6 minutes, the entire of the USA’s military top brass were convinced that they were under a full scale soviet nuclear attack.

The entire continental air defense force was put on alert and number of planes launched. The Presidents’ ”doomsday   plane”, the National Emergency Airborne Command Post, also launched.

 

THE  CAUSE?

Back in 1979, the missile defence and warning system was stored on a good fashioned tape. A careless technician had loaded an attack simulation tape into the system by mistake… Oops.

 

 

JUNE 1980

CATEGORY;

Nuclear Armageddon.

 BACKGROUND

Less than a year since the last close call, the USA experienced another underpants altering false alarm.

 

WHAT HAPPENED?

Under normal circumstances America’s missile alert system at NORAD would display “0000 ICBMs detected, 0000 SLBMs detected”. On June 3, 1980 this changed.

The display was now showing that 2 missiles had been launched, then 200. Obviously, this wasn’t a good thing.

 

HOW CLOSE?

The President was informed and an immediate meeting of the USA top military advisers was scheduled. Luckily, it became apparent quite quickly that the threat was a false alarm; although it still led to the nuclear bomber crews starting their engines and the launch of Pacific Command’s Airborne Command Post.

 

THE CAUSE?

It turned out that a computer chip casting less than 50 cents had failed, causing the error.

                                                                                            SEPTEMBER 1983

CATEGORY

Nuclear Armageddon.

BACKGROUND

The Russians had recently developed a highly accurate missile launch detection system, based on satellite monitoring.

 

WHAT HAPPENED?

On 26 September, 1983 the Russians missile detection system reported multiple ICBMs had been launched from the USA.

The newly installed system was more accurate than previous methods and relied on a series of Russians satellites monitoring the horizon for silhouettes of American ICBMs. Deep in a Soviet nuclear bunker, one man Stanislav Petrov, had to decide whether to respond with a full scale nuclear retaliation or whether to wait it out.

 

HOW CLOSE?

Lieutenant Colonel Petrov decided that it was more than likely a false alarm, saying “when people start a war, they don’t start it only five missiles,” His boss, Soviet Chairman Andropov was renowned for his mistrust of the USA and it is highly likely that if Petrov had declared the satellite warnings valid, such an erroneous report could have provoked the Soviet leadership into attacking.

 

THE CAUSE?

The false alarm was due to naturally accuring phenomenon around the Autumn equinox. Russian satellites, the sun and the USA’s missile fields alligned at exactly the wrong time.

 

 

JUNE 1992

CATEGORY

Genetically modified crops.

BACKGROUND

A European biotech firm had developed a variation of the klebsiella planticola bacterium, designed to turn food waste into fuel.

 

WHAT HAPPENED?

The genetically modified bacteria was designed to produce ethanol from food waste, with the left over sludge being converted into fertilizer for use with crops. The USA’s Environment Protection Agency had tested the bacteria thoroughly and had concluded that it posed no harm to humans or the environment.

 

HOW CLOSE?

Only by chance, an Oregan state University academic decided to test the bacteria in non-sterile soil to monitor the effects.

Had a scientific skeptic not tested the bacterium in a real world scenario, we’d probably all be dead by now.

 

THE CAUSE?

When it was tested in non-sterile soil, klebsiella planticola killed every single plant it came into contact with. Had the bacterium been released, it could have spread worldwide and destroyed every single plant on earth.

 

 

JANUARY 1995

CATEGORY

Nuclear Armageddon.

BACKGROUND

On January 25, 1995 Norwegian scientists and their American colleagues launched a rocket designed to study the northern lights.

 

WHAT HAPPENED?

To the Russians, the rocket looked exactly like an American Trident nuclear missile and followed the same trajectory as a delibrate satellite strike. The estimated flight time to Moscow was under 10 minutes, which left very little time for the Russian early warning center to decide whether World War III had just started.

 

HOW CLOSE?

The next day, Boris Yellsin stated that he had activated his “nuclear football” – a device that allowed the Russian President to communicate directly with his top millitary advisers. The early warning control and command center switched to combat mode. For almost 10 minutes,russian was armed and ready to end the world in a fiery flameball of death.

 

THE CAUSE?

Norway had informed 35 countries of its intended experiment, including the Russians. The news had apparently reached the Russian Defence Ministry, but hadn’t been passed onto the early warning personnel.

 

Writer: Charles Hyacinth.

www.ictechs.blogspot.com

 

 

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