We’re back in the 60s; the United States are engaged in an economic battle against the Soviet Union, and this intense competition will determine the most powerful state in the world. This famous competition made history under the name of cold war, a war led without weapons, and whose stake was the world power. Since all of this is common information, perhaps there are few that know that the cold war was on the verge of becoming World War III.
This is no conspiracy theory. A new study shows that there was a colossal solar storm on the 23rd of May, 1967. This phenomenon caused American radars to fail in providing officials with information. The lack of response from the radars led them to believe that the Russians were affecting them and had something in store for them. As a consequence, the Americans were also ready to fight back.
The story has a happy ending: no war took place, as the activity of the radars was disturbed by a natural phenomenon, namely a solar storm. Today, Professor Delores Knipp (University of Colorado) is the author of a study that confirms this hypothesis:
“Had it not been for the fact that we had invested very early on in solar and geomagnetic storm observations and forecasting, the impact [of the storm] likely would have been much greater. This was a lesson learned in how important it is to be prepared.”
Luckily, the scientists in 1967 also understood that there was no threat to the nation, but a solar storm or solar flare. Sunspots could be observed on the surface of the sun, which unveiled the event and clarified the malfunction of the radars.
A former official at Solar Forecast Center talks about the unique day of work he had on May 23, 1967:
“I specifically recall responding with excitement, ‘Yes, half the sun has blown away,’ and then related the event details in a calmer, more quantitative way.” (Colonel Arnold L. Snyder)
Thanks to the people at Solar Forecast Center, who immediately send the information to the army to stop any military activity, no war came to happen.
Another remarkable solar storm took place in September 1859, and one of its effects was that the aurora borealis, with its beautiful, almost magic lights, could be seen in many regions of the world.
Image courtesy of: Wikipedia