Practice English Speaking&Listening with: The Secret Doomsday Device Could Destroy the Planet But Is It Real?

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Hey Thoughty2 here.

The atom bomb, hydrogen bomb, nuclear bomb, whatever you want to call it, is the single

most destructive thing humanity has ever created, one nuclear device could flatten a city the

size of London.

And the United States of America has lost eight of them.

Permanently misplaced, these estranged nuclear warheads are called "broken arrows" by the

Department of Defense.

How does the world's largest superpower lose over 1,000 kilograms of nuclear explosives,

eight times?

The first was lost on February 13th, 1950.

A B-36 bomber was flying from Alaska to Texas, it lost power and began to free-fall.

To prevent the bomb from detonating when the plane crashed he dropped the payload, a Fat

Man nuclear bomb into the Pacific Ocean.

Submarine search teams were dispatched to find it, but it was never located and to this

day, one of the world's most powerful nuclear bombs remains undetonated, somewhere at the

bottom of the Pacific.

Another two bombs with a combined yield of 3.4 megatons went missing in 1956, when a

B-47 left from Florida.

Whilst traveling over the Mediterranean sea, through thick fog, it went missing, it was

never heard from again, the nuclear weapons were never found.

Another went missing in a swamp, another bomb rolled off a US navy vessel just off the coast

of Japan, which Japan weren't too pleased about, to say the least.

And another two were lost at sea when a US submarine mysteriously sank along with all

99 crewe members.

But whilst America has been busy losing nuclear warheads, Russia were hard at work building


At the height of the cold war, in 1985, the Soviet Union had a terrifying 39,197 nuclear

weapons, many more than the count of America's peak stockpile of 31,139.

It has often been said that nuclear war is madness and mad it is.

M.A.D. as in Mutually Assured Destruction.

The only thing that has so far prevented the end of the world.

A doctrine of war that means if one side uses their full nuclear arsenal on the other, then

the other side will automatically use their nuclear arsenal upon the attacker in response,

therefore wiping out both countries.

It is based on the Nash equilibrium, which dictates that when both opponents possess

the same strategy, neither side has anything to gain by using their strategy and therefore

the best course of action is to do nothing.

And so the world is frozen in a constant state of being on the brink of blowing each other


But how did it come to this?

Fleeing persecution from the Nazi regime, many Jewish scientists fled to the West during

the early days of the war, including highly influential physicists such as Albert Einstein,

Hans Bethe, Edward Teller and John von Neumann.

Most of them joined the Manhattan project, a brand new, top-secret program between United

States, United Kingdom and Canada with one primary goal, to invent the atomic bomb.

The enormous project employed 130,000 people and cost the US the modern-day equivalent

of $25 billion dollars.

Just three years after the project was established the US detonated the world's first ever nuclear

weapon in the New Mexico dessert.

It was codenamed Trinity.

They didn't waste any time and just three weeks later they detonated a Uranium bomb

over Hiroshima, killing over 140,000 people.

In the bloody aftermath of the war there was a twilight struggle between the Communist

Soviet Union and Capitalist America to gain control of and shape how the post-world war

would look.

Russia had also gone nuclear and the arms race had begun.

An arms race that would last 44 years, this was the Cold War.

It was the ultimate contest of might and each side went to extraordinary lengths just to

prove they were the most endowed country.

The USA seriously considered a plan to airdrop enormous condoms labelled "Medium" into the

USSR to demoralise the Soviets and give the impression that Americans had a greater "manhood".

The US also developed a top secret plan to detonate a nuclear bomb on the moon as a display

of military prowess but it was a tad too expensive.

So when that didn't work out, they created project Acoustic Kitty.

The CIA implanted microphones attached to a radio transmitter inside cats.

The plan was to use cats to spy on the Kremlin, but during the very first test, the cat was

accidentally run over by a car, so that threw a spanner of doubt into the general reliability

of spy cats and the Acoustic Kitty program was scrapped.

The tension grew until it all came to a climax during the most intense and uncertain 13 days

of the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis.

October 16th 1962, Russia gets a bee in its bonnet over ballistic missiles that America

had deployed in Italy and Turkey, conveniently in easy reach and pointed right at the USSR.

Russia responded by placing a bunch of their nuclear weapons in Cuba, in frightfully close

proximity to the US, giving Russia the opportunity to destroy any number of American cities with


During these nail-biting thirteen days the world was closer to complete nuclear annihilation

that it has ever been.

Eventually an agreement was reached between John F. Kennedy and Khrushchev that both parties

would dismantle and remove their respective weapons from, Italy, Turkey and Cuba.

But what few people know is that during the Cuban Missile Crisis we came just a hairsbreadth

from total nuclear annihilation, because of three men in a submarine.

During the crisis Kennedy put a blockade on all sea traffic to Cuba to prevent Russia

from delivering even more nuclear weapons to the small island nation.

But a Soviet submarine is hiding, deep in the Caribbean sea around Cuba.

US navy vessels pick it up on their radars and start dropping depth charges to the left

and right of the submarine, to try and deter it back to Russia.

The sub is violently shaking, the on-board temperature rapidly rising, a decision has

to be made quickly.

The sub hadn't made contact with Russia for several days, they were too deep for their

communications to reach the surface, they had no idea what was going on above the water.

Completely in the dark, the three Soviet submarine commanders on board the vessel came to the

conclusion that full-scale nuclear war had erupted above the surface.

They thought World War III was underway, hence the aggression they were receiving.

Little did the Americans know that this submarine was equipped with an enormous nuclear torpedo,

capable of wiping out a nearby fleet of US destroyers or an entire city.

One of the submarine captains proclaimed "We're gonna blast them now!".

They readied the nuclear torpedo and their hand was hovering over the red button.

If they had fired the nuclear weapon, it would have lead to a chain of events that would

have actually caused full-scale nuclear war and the end of the world.

But they didn't fire the nuclear torpedo because of the calm temperament one man, Vasili Alexandrovich


Soviet submarines were only allowed to fire their nuclear weapons if all three on-board

commanders agreed to do so, unanimously.

The other two commanders had agreed to fire and were pushing Vasili to acquiesce, but

he would not.

He believed this was not an attack but just a not-so-subtle way of America telling them

to get away from Cuba.

He remained calm and talked down the other two commanders, saving the world.

These instances aren't as rare as you might hope, in total, there have been 13 events

were nuclear weapons were nearly launched due to accidents or false alarms.

But why is nuclear war MAD?

Why does Mutually Assured Destruction have to be the only way?

Is it not possible that America could use their full nuclear force on Russia's nuclear

facilities in a pre-emptive strike, completely wiping Russia off the map before they even

have a chance to retaliate?

Or vice-versa?

Well, at the height of the cold war Russia feared this very scenario and America had

begun to develop sophisticated anti-ballistic missile systems that could detonate Russian

missiles at altitude, way before they hit their target.

Russia didn't like this, so they developed the ultimate weapon, a world destroying weapon

that would leave no survivors, The Doomsday Device.

The Soviet Union created the largest nuclear bomb in history.

Named Tsar Bomba, the "King of Bombs", it was tested in 1961 in the wilds of Siberia.

It had 1,600 times the combined power of the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Even the soviets were surprised by how immensely powerful the blast was, it destroyed an entire

nearby village, flattening stone houses.

And it shattered windows a thousand miles away in Finland and Norway.

But Nikita Khrushchev wasn't satisfied.

It's no use having the world's most powerful weapon if nobody is left alive to use it.

So he came up with a plan, a real life doomsday device that Dr. Strangelove would be proud


The plan was to take a large cargo ship and turn the entire vessel into a nuclear bomb.

The entire cargo hold would be filled with fissionable radioactive material, it would

be many times more powerful than the Tsar Bomba and truly powerful enough to destroy

the entire planet, all on its own.

It would permanently circle the coastline of Russia and onboard sensors would detect

radiation levels.

If at any point extremely high radiation was detected, indicating Russia had been hit with

a nuclear weapon.

The ship would automatically, with no human intervention, detonate itself, destroying

the planet.

It was completely automated and would ensure that even if no Russian was left alive that

they would still have the last laugh by killing everything.

What a truly terrifying prospect, luckily Russian scientists managed to persuade Khrushchev

to drop the idea.

It never went ahead.

But another plan did, a real doomsday device that still exists today.

Dr Strangelove may have been fictional, but the Doomsday Device is very real and it's

called "Russia's Dead Hand" because even when Russia is dead, they can still play their


The system was code-named "Perimeter".

Thousands of sensors were placed all around Russia.

These sensors measure seismic activity, light levels, radioactivity, overpressure and sound


All this is fed back to underground computers.

The data is crunched and if the data suggests that Russia has been hit by a nuclear blast

the system automatically activates itself.

Once activated the Dead Hand system sends a signal to every missile silo in the country

and they will automatically and instantaneously fire at every major city around the world,

but mostly America.

Absolutely no human interaction is needed for the system to function.

This seems pointless and totally excessive but it serves a very important function.

It is the only real deterrent that can stop America from launching a pre-emptive strike

on Russia's nuclear facilities and heads of government, disabling their retaliation abilities.

So in a twisted way, the world's most chilling device is actually the only thing saving us


The scariest part?

You would think such a system would have been turned off at the end of the Cold War, but

high-ranking Russian insiders have reported that the system is still fully functional

and remains activated today.

But Russia committed the cardinal sin of a Doomsday system, they forget to tell anyone.

Russia kept the existence of their Dead Hand top secret for years, until a high-ranking

official leaked knowledge of it in the 90s.

And in the words of Dr. Strangelove "The whole point of the doomsday machine is lost, if

you keep it a secret!"

Thanks for watching.

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