Viking mythology says that there will be a long winter before Ragnarök, the end of the world. Long as three normal winters but with no summer in-between. After that winter there would be war. Maybe this Fimbulwinter really happened and inspired the mythology? In the year 536 there was a volcano eruption covering the sky and blocking the sun (and probably another eruption 540). Harsh years followed and crops failed. A lot of people died, not just in the Nordics. We’re just learning more about this event.
Smithsonian: Sixth-Century Misery Tied to Not One, But Two, Volcanic Eruptions
The Telegraph: Did American volcanos trigger the fall of the Roman Empire?
Wikipedia: Extreme weather events of 535-536 | Fimbulwinter | Caldera
The Stanley Kubric’s movie ”Dr. Strangelove” from 1964 is about an automatic Russian Doomsday Machine. This machine would guarantee nuclear retaliation in the case the Soviet Union were hit by an U.S. surprise attack. The movie is purely fiction but reality caught up with the movie in 1985 when the Russian PERIMETR system went online. The system goes by different names like Dead Hand and Mertvaya Ruka. The information we got is contradictory, the details vary and some is speculation. We simply don’t know the facts. This is a summary of the available information:
Perimetr is not fully automatic. The system needs to be activated. It will then use its sensors to detect nuclear detonations and listen for Russian military radio. If contact over radio is not possible the system reports to a small spherical bunker deep under the Ural mountains. In this command center there are three officers waiting for Perimetr to indicate that the conditions for a counter attack is met. It’s then up to the officers to push the button. The Perimetr is then fully automatic. Command missiles will launch and also try to detect military radio. If not detected it will send launch codes to missiles on the ground.
The system was unknown until 1993 when Valery Yarynich and Bruce Blair started writing about it. The Russians are rarely talking about this system but as late as 2011 the commander of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces confirmed that the system is still operational.
Jalopnik: The Soviets made a real Doomsday device in the 80’s
Arms Control Wonk: Putin’s Dead Hand (great links and a good podcast)
Bruce Blair: Russia’s Doomsday Machine (first known article from 1993)
The Washington Post: Valery Yarnich, the man who told of the Soviet’s doomsday machine
Wired: Inside the apocalyptic Soviet doomsday machine
Perimetr site (site in Russian) (translated here)
Number Stations: The myth of the Dead Hand
Tales from the nuclear age: Perimetr
Wikipedia: Dead Hand | Bruce G Blair | David E Hoffman | Leo Szilard | Dr. Strangelove
This is a movie to look forward to: Earthling’s Quest. Meet the guys behind the search for extraterrestrial life. The movie is expected in 2019 or at least before E.T. calls. The funding period on Kickstarter was a bit short and the goal was not met but they are carrying on.
What you should read are the articles in the AstroArt blog at Astronomers without borders: Part 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
You can follow this project at Facebook: Earthling’s Quest
Production company: Fosfor Produktion
SETI Institute: Seth Shostak | Jill Tarter | Jon Richards | Douglas Vakoch (has now left for METI) | All
METI International: Douglas Vakoch
Astronomy Without Borders | Facebook page
Wikipedia: SETI Institute | Seth Shostak | Jill Tarter
Disney’s theme park is the result of what was once plans for a real futuristic city: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. The plans included new transportation and communication systems. I haven’t been to the theme park but now I got really interested. Paleofuture, Disney Avenue and The Original Epcot has great articles about this past future.
Gizmodo Paleofuture: Long lost proposal shows plan for EPCOT’s cashless city of the future
Gizmodo Paleofuture: Revisiting Epcot Center
Disney Avenue: RCA’s 1968 Proposal to Build a Communication System at Disney World
Disney Avenue: The amazing EPCOT model
Disney Avenue: The RCA System Communication Center
The Original Epcot
Follow Shiaparelli’s descent to the Mars surface here: http://livestream.com/ESA/marsarrival
Except ESA’s Livestream channel you can follow the mission at ESA.
Media kit: PDF