Two Who Saved the World
From Nuclear War
I arrived before he did and waited in a hallway between two conference rooms. A plaque indicated that one of them as the Arkhipov Room, honoring Vasali Arkhipov, a Soviet naval officer. During the Cuban missile crisis, Arkhipov was serving on a submarine in the Caribbean when U. S. destroyers set off depth charges nearby. His captain, unable to establish radio contact with Moscow, feared that the conflict had escalated and ordered a nuclear strike. But Arkhipov dissuaded him, and all-out atomic war was averted.
Across the hallway was the [Stanislav] Petrov* Room, named for another Soviet officer who prevented a global nuclear catastrophe. Bostrom later told me, "They may have saved more lives than most of the statesmen we celebrate on stamps."
---From Raffi Khatchadourian
"The Doomsday Invention"
The New Yorker
23 November 2015
* "[On September 26, 1983], Petrov was the duty officer at the command center for the Oko nuclear early-warning system when the system reported that a missile, followed by another one and then up to five more, were being launched from the United States. Petrov judged the report to be a false alarm, and his decision is credited with having prevented an erroneous retaliatory nuclear attack on the United States and its NATO allies that could have resulted in large-scale nuclear war. Investigation later confirmed that the satellite warning system had indeed malfunctioned."