Found in 20 comments on Hacker News
gxqoz · 2022-04-07 · Original thread
Perhaps you might want to read Command and Control, a book about the terrifying history of near misses in terms of nuclear weapons. It may well be true that nuclear weapons have reduced hot wars. But it can be equally true that had a few small things gone a different way, the world could have been subjected to an even more horrible nuclear war. And this is still very much the situation.

Have a read of Eric Schlosser's book, Command and Control

The ways we could end up in a nuclear war are frightening to the point of madness.

I'm reading Eric Schlosser's Command and Control right now (1). Housing becomes quite elastic in the face of bombing. Fred Iklé actually developed a formula based on WW2 Germany for RAND:

Fully compensating increase in housing density = (P1 - F) / (H2) - (P1 / H1)

* P1 = Population of city before destruction

* P2 = Population of city after destruction

* H1 = Housing units before destruction

* H2 = Housing units after destruction

* F = Fatalities

The tipping point seemed to be reached when about 70% of a city's homes were destroyed. That's when people began to leave en masse and seek shelter in the countryside.


teeray · 2021-12-10 · Original thread
Command & Control[0] details the stupid mistakes very well. There were many, many glitches.


res0nat0r · 2021-02-24 · Original thread
On the contrary, the USA has accidently dropped nuclear missiles from planes, and have experience all kinds of other incompetence over the decades.

Obligatory recommendation of the riveting book Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser

TigeriusKirk · 2021-01-09 · Original thread
Another similar book is Command And Control by Eric Schlosser.

It goes into a lot of detail about how nuclear weapons and their control systems evolved. Covers a number of accidents and near apocalypses along the way. One of my favorite books of the last decade, informative and very readable at the same time.

iaw · 2020-11-18 · Original thread
If you take Command and Control[0] to be an authoritative source, then no I don't believe so. We've come close to accidentally launching on both sides but no combat deployment has occurred, if it did it would likely be the end of our current civilization.


teeray · 2020-01-16 · Original thread
Command and Control by Eric Schlosser[0] was a fascinating (and chilling) read about many of the incidents people have mentioned in the comments here. It focuses closely on the 374-7 Damascus Incident, but covers many many other “Broken Arrow”[1] incidents that have occurred.

It’s not a short read, but it’s eye-opening from the engineering perspective that nuclear arsenals are wildly complicated beasts with on-going maintenance, like any machine.

EDIT: It’s also available as a documentary on Netflix[2] Not as in-depth, but it covers the Damascus incident pretty well.




sorenbs · 2017-09-03 · Original thread
Eric schlossers Command and Control provide accounts of many 'close calls' in the US nuclear program

Highly suggest reading "command and control" by eric schlosser (fast food nation). Terrifying but amazing book:

I'm really not sure why we're still alive.

MichaelGG · 2017-03-12 · Original thread
That hasn't been historically true. It might be true for newer ones but older designs could have gone off. There's also incidents where the bomb was armed accidentally, say, by it slipping while in a plane. Some of the "intentional" detonators were very simple and could be triggered by a surge.


sorenbs · 2017-03-04 · Original thread
I highly recommend reading

Turns out the answer to your question is simply: luck.

rrggrr · 2016-06-23 · Original thread
Despite three major armed conflicts fought between nuclear powers by proxy, none thankfully have resulted in nuclear war. Deterrence works. What doesn't work, and a flaw that is growing exponentially with nuclear proliferation is failures in design, command and control. The incredible and incredibly frightening book "Command and Control" (see link at bottom), highlights several near catastrophic misses in the US nuclear arsenal. Now multiply by all nuclear states, the risks of accident are terrifying. The world would do well to open source safeguards so that even rogue states (eg. North Korea) can benefit from control and process that mitigate risk of unintended nuclear detonation.

avar · 2015-09-14 · Original thread
You left out the worst incident I know of:

The US was one arming switch away from nuking North Carolina in 1961. This and a bunch of other really scary nuclear-related accidents are covered in Command & Control:

justizin · 2015-04-09 · Original thread
Command and Control, a historical account of failures in safety and other procedures with america's nuclear arsenal:

rrggrr · 2015-02-02 · Original thread
"I think the fears about “evil killer robots” are overblown. There’s a big difference between intelligence and sentience. Our software is becoming more intelligent, but that does not imply it is about to become sentient."

It is the period between sentience and "advanced" artificial intelligence that should be worrying for two reasons: First, it is close at hand. More importantly, the unintended consequences of tech are never well thought out in the initial stages of adoption.

I'm reading Eric Schlosser's book on the early days of nuclear weapons and the many, many near misses the US experienced as it adopted nuclear arms without much thought to risk management. I see parallels in the race to develop and deploy pre-sentient A.I. Link below to Schlosser's book.

cmsmith · 2014-11-08 · Original thread
For those who are still interested after reading the article the information is taken from the author's book [1], which I just finished and thoroughly enjoyed/was terrified by.


timr · 2014-05-26 · Original thread
The SAC had plenty of nasty screw ups, including littering large areas of Spain and (iirc) Greenland with plutonium dust from nuclear weapons accidents. It's also pretty much dumb luck that we've never had an accidental detonation of an SAC-controlled nuclear weapon:

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