All The Times We Nearly Blew Up The World

All The Times We Nearly Blew Up The World

This is a video about some of the many times we have nearly blown up the world. Part of this video is brought to you by Henson — head over to and enter code ‘Veritasium’ for 100 free blades with the purchase of a razor. Make sure to add both the razor and the blades to your cart for the code to take effect.

List of Broken Arrows —
Declassified Goldsboro Report —
Operation ChromeDome —
CIA website —

Cataclysmic cargo: The hunt for four missing nuclear bombs after a B-52 crash —
The Voice of Larry Messinger is from this documentary —
Even Without Detonation, 4 Hydrogen Bombs From ’66 Scar Spanish Village —
Decades Later, Sickness Among Airmen After a Hydrogen Bomb Accident —
Picture of ReVelle —
Great NPR where the audio of ReVelle is from —
CIA Website —

Special thanks to our Patreon supporters:
Anton Ragin, Balkrishna Heroor, Bernard McGee, Bill Linder, Burt Humburg, Dave Kircher, Diffbot, Evgeny Skvortsov, Gnare, Jesse Brandsoy, John H. Austin, Jr., john kiehl, Josh Hibschman, Juan Benet, KeyWestr, Lee Redden, Marinus Kuivenhoven, Mario Bottion, MaxPal, Meekay, meg noah, Michael Krugman, Orlando Bassotto, Paul Peijzel, Richard Sundvall, Sam Lutfi, Stephen Wilcox, Tj Steyn, TTST, Ubiquity Ventures

Directed by Petr Lebedev
Written by Petr Lebedev and Derek Muller
Edited by Peter Nelson
Animated by Fabio Albertelli, Jakub Misiek, Ivy Tello and Mike Radjabov
Filmed by Derek Muller
Produced by Petr Lebedev and Derek Muller
Additional video/photos supplied by Getty Images and Pond5
Music from Epidemic Sound

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33 Responses

  1. Aleksandr Vilkov says:

    Stanislav Petrov’s case is still mind-blowing. Billions of people were saved because of the decision of a single man. If it had not happened, I would not have been born

    • Alexander Hoogerhuis says:

      …and we Norwegians are seen as a peaceful folk, except when we almost got us all nuked. :p

    • Michael says:

      “After this incident, Petrov took an early retirement, and later suffered a nervous breakdown.” No f-ing kidding. I can’t fathom what it must have been like to have made that kind of call.

    • Kamil Stenzel says:

      I like to think that the faulty system explanation was just a later excuse for his superiors and in the moment he thought “Screw it, let’s have at least half the planet survive this”

  2. sixcrowns says:

    I’m from the small town of Fryazino, a place where Stanislav Petrov lived after the incident. It was great to see you mentioning him! I want to add to what you mentioned, that he had never received any reward for his actions in USSR or Russia, even though he was highly praised in Europe and USA. Quite the opposite, he was moved to another less important position and later had to leave the army, had a mental crisis, and lived a difficult life, being a person who may have singlehandedly saved the world.

    • Franko says:

      And he died in poverty, google for the pictures.

    • Dash Vash says:

      That’s really sad. Military leaders who operate with millions of lives in their hands should be able to make rational decisions like Petrov and Vasily.

      There’s always something to be said for following operating procedures but, as we’ve seen, those can be incredibly otherworldly dangerous when dealing in nukes.

      Poor guy should have gotten promoted to a higher position of authority or as a diplomat. No clue who he was as a person but if he was anything but terrible he did an amazing thing and deserved better.

    • Darth Nosam says:

      Likely because his valor arose through disobedience of a direct order. The soviets couldn’t stand embarrassment

    • FarmerGiles says:

      May he rest in peace. His reward is in heaven, for God knows his service. May his memory be eternal!

      Isn’t it interesting that in all these stories, from east and west, it is the subordinates, the lower-ranking, who notice the crucial things, and who stand up for rational behavior. If the decisions had been left to politicians and other powerful people, the penalties would have exceeded that of all other wars ever fought.

    • Noi Jadis Cailleach says:

      Face it. He will only be canonized as a hero when countries are treated like cities today.
      When there is a world government.
      Probably in 800 years. Give or take.

  3. Nahom Merk says:

    There should be statues commemorating the Russian officers who kept their calm and thought critically in literally THE most stressful situation anyone can be in!! They are not just national heroes, they are global heroes! 👏👏

  4. Ferarn McÆternitum says:

    My favorite near miss is the one where someone mistook a bear scaling a fence for a person in Wisconsin, raised the alarm, the alarm turned out to be miswired and went directly to telling the airbase to scramble and launch, then one guy floored it to stop the jets from taking off because of a phone call, as once the jets took off they were to go radio silent.

    • Martineski says:

      Sheeeesh, that’s a crazy chain of events.

    • enrico says:

      can’t they still receive messages once they go radio silent?

    • Adrien Debosse says:

      I looked a couple weeks ago at all the near misses in the french wikipedia. There’s a similar event in the french nuclear forces in the 60ies, where a false alarm triggered a mirage F4 (nuclear supersonic bomber) to strike the USSR. When he got radioed to come back, nothing happened, as the procedure was to shut off radio. The pilot came back for one specific reason, the refueler plane was absent at the refueling point, which promped him to come back.

    • ZΞTTΛ says:

      Is there a reason jets go radio silent? Or it’s just something to spice up your story?

    • ZΞTTΛ says:

      @Adrien Debosse What is the reason for radio silence? That seems way too reckless to me. All you got is 5 minutes of take off time and if you can’t call it off within that time world is ending. Lol.

  5. Lizlodude says:

    On the one hand, it’s awesome that Petrov and Arkhipov both almost single-handedly prevented the destruction of at least 2 continents.
    On the other hand, can we _please_ stop putting ourselves in situations where the destruction of 2 continents is even an option? Please?

  6. cosmiclightning says:

    Seen a bunch of these near miss stories before. This should be part of every high schooler’s education. Understanding nuclear weapons is a civic duty.

  7. Henrik Orre says:

    The nuclear bomb animations are ridiculously good. Props to the animators!

  8. Александр says:

    How is it possible to keep creating such exceptional content for so many years!? Thank you making Youtube useful!

    • vagkalosynakis says:

      While I do agree Veritasium content is great, this topic has been covered on other channels extensively. Most notably, Lemmino did an amazing job at it a few years ago and I feel like the production value of Lemmino is even greater than that of Veritasium.

  9. Michael Rydzinski says:

    Not only is it insane that we’ve lost these things, its nuts that we just had these bombs flying around fuggin’ EVERYWHERE.

  10. Randy Suyematsu says:

    I was surprised you didn’t mention the close call during exercise Able Archer in 1983. I was a part of Able Archer and worked in the HQ of the 59th Ordnance Brigade. This exercise was suspected by Russia to be a cover for a nuclear attack by the US. There are a few videos about this, and even a German television series based on Able Archer, “Deutchland ‘83”.

    • Rhys B says:

      Perhaps the reason he didn’t mention it was because it’s already been adequately covered elsewhere. It wouldn’t have been as interesting a video if it was just a listicle of the most famous close calls.

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