It's 25 years to the day since one Stanislav Petrov, an officer in the Soviet Military, prevented a likely full scale nuclear exchange between the superpowers.
He did so by using common sense, not robotically following procedure, not an easy call in the USSR.
Though how serious the potential was for such a catastrophe, has been questioned by some, considering the deep chill in relations back then, with the Soviet leadership mostly old, paranoid men, with Andropov himself very ill and effectively hospitalised for much of his brief leadership, the likelihood was that Petrov indeed did in reality, what countless movie/comic heroes/superheroes, from James Bond to Marvel comics, do in fantasy.
Perhaps the most frightening aspect to all this, was that at the time, no one in West had a real handle on just how various events in the autumn of 1983, including this one, was to accidentally starting a full scale nuclear exchange.
At least in 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis was obvious to all.
The main background here;
Last year, a documentary on UK television, covered this whole period, including Petrov's incident.
Well in 8 parts, here it is;
(One chilling part, was how Soviet agents in the West searched for signs of the expected NATO attack, including lights on at night in places like the Ministry Of Defence building in London. Of course they were, how else could the office cleaners do their job!)
[Edited 2008-09-26 11:21:08]