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.

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash
True

It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Keep Reading Show less

Former President George W. Bush and current president Donald Trump may both be Republicans but they have contrasting views when it comes to immigration.

Trump has been one of the most anti-immigrant presidents of recent memory. His Administration separated undocumented families at the border, placed bans on travelers from majority-Muslim countries, and he's proudly proclaimed, "Our country is full."

George W. Bush's legacy on immigration is a bit more nuanced. He ended catch-and-release and called for heightened security at the U.S.-Mexico border, but he also championed an immigration bill that created a guest worker program and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people.

Unfortunately, that bill did not pass.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Picsea on Unsplash
True

It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Keep Reading Show less

I saw this poster today and I was going to just let it go, but then I kept feeling tugged to say something.

Melanie Cholish/Facebook

While this poster is great to bring attention to the issue of child trafficking, it is a "shocking" picture of a young girl tied up. It has that dark gritty feeling. I picture her in a basement tied to a dripping pipe.

While that sounds awful, it's important to know that trafficking children in the US is not all of that. I can't say it never is—I don't know. What I do know is most young trafficked children aren't sitting in a basement tied up. They have families, and someone—usually in their family—is trafficking them.

Keep Reading Show less

Roland Pollard and his 4-year-old daughter Jayden have been doing cheer and tumbling stunts together since Jayden could walk. When you see videos of their skills, the level of commitment is apparent—as is the supportive relationship this daddy has with his daughter.

Pollard, a former competitive cheerleader and cheer coach, told In The Know that he didn't expect Jayden to catch on to her flying skills at age 3, but she did. He said he never pressures her to perform stunts and that she enjoys it. And as a viral video of Jayden almost falling during a stunt shows, excelling at a skill requires good teaching—something Pollard appears to have mastered.

Keep Reading Show less