6 real heroes who literally saved the world

6 real heroes who literally saved the world

Each of these six people saved the world in a different way.

When it comes to "saving the world," most people imagine Superman intervening at the last minute, bomb squads disabling deadly devices just in time, and scientists discovering incredible weapons that can repel alien hordes. But the heroes who really saved the world have much more interesting stories to tell.

Humanity has repeatedly escaped destruction thanks to the coldness and rationality that some individuals have maintained in the face of danger. Some acts of heroism have taken place over years and decades, and are the result of the continuous and tireless work of formidable people. Some heroes have died without even knowing the consequences of their actions and how they would be remembered.

Regardless of what they've done, it's safe to say that these six real-life heroes really did save the world.

Stanislav Petrov - The Cold-Blooded Soldier

Stanislav Petrov House Nail 2016 – Wikimedia Commons

In September 1983, the true hero Stanislav Petrov single-handedly prevented the outbreak of a global nuclear war. How? Following his instincts and ignoring the alarm of an approaching missile.

Petrov had been on duty for several hours as a duty officer at Serpukhov-15, the secret command center outside Moscow that monitored Soviet satellites stationed over the United States of America. Suddenly alarms went off, indicating that five intercontinental ballistic missiles had just been launched from a US base.

Petrov did not panic. He knew that the alarm system was still in its infancy and he personally believed that the signal was false (although it was later discovered that there was a 50% chance that it was correct). Instead of reporting the missile attack, Petrov turned off the alarm and told his supervisor that there was a malfunction in the system.

Fortunately, Petrov was right: the missile alarm was a false positive. Had Petrov reported the attack as real, a global nuclear war could have been unleashed.

But by keeping a cool head and taking the time to assess the situation, Petrov saved the world.

"I had a weird feeling in my stomach," he told the Washington Post. “I didn't want to make a mistake. I just made a decision."

Quick thinking certainly helped: when he took stock of what was happening, he figured that if the Americans really were starting a war, the attack would be much more extensive and consistent.

"When someone wants to start a war, they don't do it with just 5 missiles." She said.

Vasili Arkhipov - The commander of the submarine B-59

The Young Commander Vasili Arkhipov, 1960 - Wikimedia Commons

During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, Vasili Arkhipov made the decision that, in hindsight, according to historians, is believed to have prevented the start of World War III.

Arkhipov was one of three commanders aboard the Soviet submarine B-59 on October 27, 1962, when he received orders from the Soviet command to stop in the Caribbean, not far from the US naval blockade surrounding the island. The submarine would provide support, secretly landing weapons on the island.

To hide its position from the Americans, the submarine was stationed deep underground, but that was not enough.

The American ships spotted the Soviet submarine and began detonating depth bombs to force the Soviets to resurface for identification. What the Americans did not know is that the B-59 was heavily armed: on board was a nuclear missile of the same power as the one that destroyed Hiroshima.

The Soviet submarine B-59 - Wikimedia Commons

When the submarine submerged, it lost communication with the surface. There was no way to communicate with Moscow to receive orders. Shocked by the charges exploded by the Americans, two of the sub's commanders believed it to be an attack and decided to launch the missile on board.

However, to launch the torpedo, the action had to be approved by all three commanders on board. Including Vasily Arkhipov.

However, the submarine's third commander kept a cool head, despite the vibrations caused by the depth charges. He suspected that these were not attacks but simply a way to force the B-59 to climb.

And he was right. After waiting until oxygen and fuel supplies were exhausted, the diver returned to the surface to find himself surrounded by American warships, thankfully without fighting them. A hasty retreat home followed, leaving the Americans empty-handed, but aware of the nuclear attack averted thanks to the true hero Vasili Arkhipov.

Norman Borlaug - The botanist who fed the world

Bolraug with his new variety of wheat - Flickr | Photo from LIFE magazine. November 1970 Mexico

Few scientists have won as many awards as Norman Borlaug, and hardly anyone deserves them as much as this true hero. After all, not many scientists are credited with saving millions of lives around the world.

Unlike the military Arkhipov and Petrov, Borlaug saved the world through his hard work over the years, rather than a decision made under pressure.

At the beginning of the XNUMXth century, the planet experienced a serious drop in agricultural production and, if things had not changed, it would have caused famines that would have devastated developing countries.

After graduating from the University of Minnesota with degrees in forestry, plant pathology, and genetics, Norman Borlaug went to work. He began studying wheat varieties to find one that could grow in different climates around the world. When he couldn't find it, he invented one.

Within a few years of graduating, Borlaug created a disease-resistant variety capable of producing more plants and growing more vigorously than any other type of grain that had come before. When combined with modern agricultural techniques, this new variety could be grown in developing countries.

In doing so, Norman Bourlaug assured developing countries of a profitable export, a stable source of food, and a basis for economic growth. Before his invention, it was believed that the majority of subcontinental Indians (over a billion people) would die before 1980. Instead, India is now experiencing a population boom.

Henrietta Lacks - Unknowingly saved thousands of lives

Henrietta Lacks – Wikimedia Commons

In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, a poor black mother with five children in her care, saved the world without even knowing it.

Henrietta visited Johns Hopkins Hospital for a checkup after noticing swelling near her cervix. Her doctor took a biopsy and informed the unfortunate Lacks that she had cervical cancer: the lump was a tumor. The treatments of the 50s were not comparable to those of today, and the woman's chances of survival were limited.

As Lacks' condition worsened, his doctor noticed an oddity while studying samples of his tissue: While cells obtained from other patients died in a short time, Lacks's cells continued to multiply at an incredible rate.

Unfortunately, this also meant that the cancer cells multiplied faster than the treatment could kill them. Seven months later, Henrietta Lacks died.

Portrait of Henrietta Lacks - National Portrait Gallery

Still, Henrietta Lacks's cells survived. To the amazement of all the doctors at Johns Hopkins, the cells seemed unkillable and multiplied at an astonishing rate.

The doctors sent samples to physicians across the country, curious as to what they could do with them. One of the professionals was Jonas Salk, who created the Lacks cell polio vaccine.

Dozens of scientific discoveries were made possible with Henrietta Lacks' cells. Among them, the vaccines against poliomyelitis and the papilloma virus, the Human Genome project, the discoveries on cellular aging and the creation of the field of virology.

Henrietta Lacks never knew she had contributed to the world of medicine, as tissue samples were taken and distributed without family consent, a common practice at the time but one that has raised ethical questions ever since.

Although moral uncertainty surrounds her story, there is no doubt that Henrietta Lacks deserves a place on the list of people who saved the world.

James Harrison - The Man with the Golden Arm

James Harrison - The Man with the Golden Arm

Australian James Harrison, like Henrietta Lacks, was given the power to change the world by chance, but it was his decision on how to use this power that made him a true hero.

James Harrison began donating blood at the age of 18, unaware that he was doing something extraordinary. It wasn't until years later, in the mid-60s, that Harrison's doctors realized there was something special about his blood: It contained an unusual antibody that could be used to prevent a rare and potentially fatal condition in children known as erythroblastosis fetalis or fetalis. Hemolytic disease of the newborn.

When a mother with Rh-negative blood carries an Rh-positive baby in her womb, the mother's body responds to the baby's blood as if it were an external threat. Although the mother is not affected by any health problems, the baby can have very serious repercussions: this disease can kill the baby or she can give birth with diseases such as anemia and jaundice.

But if this condition is diagnosed early, the mother can be injected with a drug known as Anti-D, which can treat the disease and allow the baby to be born healthy. This treatment is only possible because of people like Harrison, who have a specific combination of Rh-negative blood and Rh-positive antibodies in their blood.

In short, Harrison's blood saves lives. After being warned about this, Harrison went to work and, until 2018, he donated blood once a week, every week, for a total of more than 1.100 donations. For this reason, he has been dubbed "the man with the golden arm" and doctors estimate that more than 3 million doses of Anti-D have been made from his blood, saving the lives of approximately 2.4 million people. kids.

Alexander Akimov - The Chernobyl Engineer

Alexander Fiódorovich Akímov – Wikimedia Commons

The Chernobyl disaster is one of the most famous nuclear catastrophes in the world, but before the advent of the television series of the same name, few knew that if it were not for one man and his team, the damage would have been great. worse. .

On the night of April 26, 1986, Alexander Akimov was working as a supervisor for the crew of reactor 4 of the Chernobyl NPP.

At first, when he received the news that something had gone wrong, Akimov did not believe it. In fact, he passed on false information to his supervisors for several hours, a terrible mistake that he would correct later that night.

When Akimov realized the extent of the damage to the reactor, he stayed behind to remedy the situation as much as possible. He declared a state of emergency as soon as the plant was closed, although the damage had already been done: the reactor had exploded, spreading radioactive material and emitting very high radiation.

While the evacuation was taking place, Akimov stayed there and with his team tried to activate the water pumps to flood the reactor in emergencies like this, but the electrical power had gone out and could no longer be restored. So the supervisor stayed in the reactor building, along with some of his fellow engineers, manually pumping water to flood the reactor, without radiation protection.

The work of these engineers ended up costing them their lives, but it drastically reduced the impact of the disaster, saving countless lives.


These people had the opportunity to save the world, they took advantage of it, and therefore they can be defined in all respects as true heroes.

But you can also be a hero in real life: with your actions you can help the people around you, safeguard the environment and leave a positive mark on this world.

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