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Vlogger Starts World War III (Sort Of)

The YouTuber behind the science channel Veritasium got to pretend to blow up the world at a decommissioned nuclear launch site in Arizona.

by John Ambrosio
Jul 28 2015, 1:00pm

I can say with some authority that bloggers should not be trusted with nuclear launch codes.

Luckily, that rarely happens and, as in the case of Derek Muller of the popular YouTube science channel Veritasium, the silos they're given codes to are usually decommissioned. As part of a tour of an old Titan II missile silo in Arizona, Muller was given codes that until 1982 could've sparked the end of all things.

In the video, Muller asks Chuck Penson, a historian who works at the silo-turned-museum to explain the process of launching bombs—in this case, bombs 650 times as powerful as the one dropped on Hiroshima.

Penson then guides Muller through a process that anyone who's watched a Cold War thriller should be familiar with: a pre-recorded, coded message blares over a loudspeaker, Muller and Penson authenticate the message as an order to launch, turn and hold their launch keys, get the unlock code, and then turn their keys one more time, beginning the launch sequence.

"For all intents and purposes that button should say 'welcome to World War III' because that's pretty much all it boils down to," Penson reminds Muller, after turning the key. "There is no 'oops' button."

A scary thought, considering the whole process takes only a couple minutes from start to finish.

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