This man may have saved the world from nuclear war. His story is a heart-pumper.

It's being reported that Stanislav Petrov passed away earlier this year. He was 77.

And even if you don't know who Petrov was, he might be the reason you're alive today.

Petrov in 2015. Photo from Pavel Golovkin/AP.


In the 1980s, Petrov was a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Union's Air Defense Forces. He was in charge of watching the computers at one of the Soviety Union's nuclear early warning centers. If the Americans wanted to start a nuclear war, Petrov would be one of the first to know.

At this time, the United States and the Soviet Union were embroiled in the Cold War. Each had stockpiled tens of thousands of nuclear weapons and a nuclear war, though horrific, often seemed imminent.

Suddenly, in the early morning of Sept. 26, 1983, a siren started to scream. If Petrov's computer was to be believed, the Americans had just attacked the Soviet Union.

The word "LAUNCH" appeared in bold red letters across Petrov's computer's screen. Then it happened again and again — five missiles in all.

Petrov need to react. If a nuclear attack really was incoming, the Soviets only had a few minutes to save themselves and launch a nuclear counter attack of their own.

It was Petrov's job, his duty, to alert his superiors — but something seemed off.

Petrov sat there, trying to figure out what to do. If the Americans were attacking, why were there only six bombs? Why not the thousands they were capable of? Why weren't there corroborating reports from ground radar? Plus this particular computer system was new and unproven. It could be a malfunction.

Did Petrov really think this was enough evidence to potentially start a full-scale nuclear exchange? Kill millions of people? It was a heavy weight to bear.

"Nobody would be able to correct my mistake if I had made one," Petrov later told the BBC.

After a few pregnant minutes, Petrov made his decision.

He picked up the phone and, though he couldn't know for sure, told his superiors it was a false alarm. His level-headed thinking may have saved millions of lives.

He was right. It was a malfunction.

For his efforts, Petrov's reward would be a long time coming. In the immediate aftermath, he actually got reprimanded by his superiors. It wouldn't be until after the fall of the Soviet Union that the world learned just how close we all came to destruction and the one man who saved it.

Petrov reportedly died on May 19 this year in a home outside Moscow. The news was not widely reported until now.

If you want to hear Petrov describe the incident in his own words, check out this interview with Petrov from the BBC.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

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Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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