The U.S. Air Force began preparing for war on May 23, 1967
May 23, 2017 8:15 AM   Subscribe

On this day, another atomic war scare. "a colossal solar radio burst" (McMath Plage Region 8818) hit important high-altitude sensors, and was interpreted as Soviet radio jamming, which could have been part of an unfolding attack. Space weather forecasters, aided by Pioneer 7, saved the day. (Abstract)
posted by doctornemo (7 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Luckily, those were the days when our leaders believed in science.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:51 AM on May 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

It never occurred to me how the rare chances to see aurora in the mid 30s of latitude could have such a sinister undertone. I guess the Soviets didn't have similar over the horizon radar that was affected so severely by geomagnetic storms yet? Given that we've heard about several other close calls on their side, I'd expect to have heard about it if they had been affected by the same event.
posted by wierdo at 9:49 AM on May 23, 2017

Huh, so I nearly got nuked the day I was born? It amazes me that we got out of the 20th century alive.
posted by tavella at 10:53 AM on May 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Happy birthday, tavella!
posted by ZaphodB at 11:00 AM on May 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

It was also the day the Pink Floyd recorded See Emily Play.

Cosmic, man.
posted by Devonian at 2:43 PM on May 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks, ZaphodB!
posted by tavella at 2:48 PM on May 23, 2017

Interesting timing. Because on July 2, 1967 the Vela satellite program, looking for nuclear weapons signatures, chanced on the first evidence of gamma-ray bursts.

It took 6 years for the discovery to be published ... but it was.
This alerted the astronomical community to the existence of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), now recognised as the most violent events in the universe.
So at least, not all of that self-destructive, paranoia-fuelled junk was a complete waste of money. Not that we quit doing that, of course.
posted by Twang at 5:36 PM on May 23, 2017

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