Be The Smartest Person In The Room, Join The All That Is Interesting Newsletter

5 Times The World Was On The Very Brink Of Nuclear Annihilation

It’s astonishing how many times we’ve been on the cusp of Armageddon following the creation of the hydrogen bomb.

Nuclear War Radiological Training

A member of the United States Air Force undergoes training for chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks at a base in Ohio. Source: U.S. Air Force

Sixty-six years ago today, on January 31st, 1950, President Harry Truman told the American public that he was pushing forward the creation of a “super-bomb.” This would be the world’s first hydrogen bomb, and it would be a thousand times more powerful than the nuclear weapons the United States had dropped on two Japanese cities at the end of World War II. Truman’s announcement came months after the Soviet Union tested First Lightning, their inaugural nuclear warhead. The arms race had begun.

What followed—the creation and stockpiling of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons—has made the world a far more dangerous place. A snap reaction or a simple mistake could lead to the instantaneous annihilation of hundreds of thousands of human lives — and that hair-trigger moment has occurred uncomfortably often. Here are five of them:

The Four Forgotten Men Who Secretly Put Adolf Hitler In Power

Who’s worse? The dictator who leads one of history’s greatest waves of terror or the political schemers who put him in power for their own selfish ends? Read on and judge for yourself.

In 1929, Adolf Hitler was a strange combination of has-been and never-was. The fame and following he’d garnered after his failed 1923 coup d’etat–and subsequent jailing and publication of his autobiography (Mein Kampf)–had severely waned. His Nazi party had a paltry number of seats in Parliament and showed no signs of picking up steam.

The 1929 diaries of the British ambassador to Germany, reflecting upon Hitler’s career trajectory after his imprisonment, read, “He [Hitler] was finally released after six months and bound over for the rest of his sentence, thereafter fading into oblivion.”

Unbeknownst to most, and largely lost to the scrapheap of history, are the machinations and fateful miscalculations of a small number of men who helped pull Hitler from oblivion and back into the spotlight. These are the men without whom Hitler wouldn’t have become the Hitler we know.

Rest assured, with each of these men, it’s not a case of the butterfly effect: Each of these men, in a thoroughly concrete and direct way, helped make Hitler chancellor on January 29, 1933–and you’ve probably never even heard their names.

Continue Reading

The Curse Of January 30 — Could It Be The Worst Day In History?

Is any day in history as fraught with horrible events as January 30? From Hitler’s rise to power to the assassination of Gandhi, these are some of the absolute worst.

January 30 Calendar

History is complicated and unpredictable. When patterns do emerge, it’s usually because the same pressures are in play from one century to the next. Sometimes, though, weird stuff just seems to cluster around a single date. On the surface, January 30 doesn’t seem to be anything special—it’s no February 29, after all—but that date has attracted unpleasant news as if it was permanently under a cloud.

No obvious explanation occurs to us for the cluster of misfortune that this day represents, but this January 30, maybe call out sick and binge-watch Netflix or something. Here are some of the worst things to have befallen this day in history.

Photo Of The Day: The Surprising Origins Of The First Ever Guide Dog School

First Guide Dog School

The first graduating class of the first seeing eye dog school in America, The Seeing Eye, in February 1929. The first class had two students and two dogs, Tartar and Gala. Image Source: The Seeing Eye

Although they’re now an inextricable part of so many of our lives, no one knows exactly where and when humans first domesticated dogs. The conclusions of even the most recent studies are in stark conflict, but we can safely place the “consensus” of the time of first domestication at somewhere between 10,000 and 32,000 years ago. Whether you take the high end or the low end of that range, that’s thousands of years before recorded history even began.

So it’s rather remarkable to realize that the blind have only been using guide dogs for about 100 years. And it’s perhaps just as remarkable that that revolution probably wouldn’t have occurred without the efforts of one, lone man.

Continue Reading

Close Pop-in
Like All That Is Interesting

Get The Most Fascinating Content On The Web In Your Facebook & Twitter Feeds