Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Russia Once Built a Doomsday Device Nicknamed 'Dead Hand'


Russia Once Built a Doomsday Device Nicknamed 'Dead Hand' HowStuffWorks
Russia Once Built a Doomsday Device Nicknamed 'Dead Hand' HowStuffWorks

It's the 1980s. The U.S. and the Soviet Union are locked in the decades-old Cold War. U.S. President Ronald Reagan decides that the U.S. needs to signal its strength to the Soviets and the Strategic Defense Initiative is born. The idea was that the missile defense system popularly dubbed "Star Wars" could defend against a Soviet nuclear attack and the U.S. could still launch an attack.

The Soviet Union, for its part, wasn't going to be reduced to ash and rubble that easily. After all, it had "Mertvaya Ruka" or "Dead Hand" up its sleeve, a system that linked all of the country's nuclear weapons to one machine. Formally called Perimeter, the Soviet system hidden deep in a bunker was meant to guarantee that the country could respond to any nuclear attack, even if it had been bombed to smithereens.

How could it do that? And is it still around? Josh Clark gives you all the details in the BrainStuff video above. 



More to Explore