Alternative history: Strangelove, 1962

Strangelove, 1962mrblo

1945: During post-war efforts to bring scientists who worked for the Third Reich into the United States, the US War Department obeys President Truman’s order to exclude scientists who supported Nazism, rather than rewriting candidates’ files to conceal the evidence. The United States and the Soviet Union divide the German scientists with more equality. In particular, the Soviet Union acquires Arthur Rudolf, former operations director of the Mittelwerk factory at the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camps.

 

January, 1946: Rather than anticipating a post-war crisis of overproduction in the USA, Soviet economists predict that the United States will try to avoid the crisis by maintaining its wartime military industry and trying to open the new Europe and Asia to free trade. Based on their advice, Stalin now views the United States as the chief threat to the Soviet Union, instead of the reemergence of Germany or Japan.

 

June, 1946: The first Soviet plutonium-production reactor goes into operation at the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow, manufacturing fissile material the Soviets will use in future nuclear tests.

 

November, 1947: The Soviet Union attempts to counter Western involvement in the Greek civil war by supporting the Communist Party of Greece. As a result, the war drags on until the end of 1951, leaving Greece in ruins.

 

December, 1947: The bomb drops off target at a United States nuclear test in Bikini Atoll lagoon, Marshal Islands, sinking a United States observation vessel as well as the target ships.

 

July, 1948: The Soviet Union counter United States involvement in the Italian elections of 1948, providing fifty cents US to the socialist Democratic Popular Front for every dollar the United States provides to the Christian Democrats. The Democratic Popular Front wins the election with fifty-two percent of the vote, beginning an era of socialist control in Italy.

 

August, 1948: The United States test launches a V-2 rocket from White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico to an altitude of ninety kilometres. Over the next eight years, the White Sands Proving Ground will launch V-2 rockets at an average rate of one rocket per month.

 

September, 1948: The American biochemist Linus Pauling determines the structure of the alpha complex, an important component of proteins.

 

October, 1948: The Soviet Union detonate their first nuclear bomb at the Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan.

The board of directors of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago move the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic clock they’ve used since 1947 to express the prospects for nuclear war, from seven minutes to five minutes from midnight.

 

November, 1948: Alarmed by the Soviet nuclear test, President Truman rescinds the order to exclude German scientists who supported Nazism from US recruiting programs.

 

January, 1949: The American virologist Thomas Weller discovers the first known interferon, a natural protein critical to the immune response.

 

February, 1949: During a test flight, a Soviet rocket photographs over one hundred million hectares of Earth’s surface.

 

March, 1949: A gifted research group at CalTech led by Linus Pauling determines the structure of DNA.

 

April, 1949: The Soviets explode a plutonium implosion bomb with a yield of 40 kilotons at the Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan.

 

March, 1950: The United States test launches a V-2 from the deck of an aircraft carrier, the first large rocket launched from a ship at sea.

 

May, 1950: The American biochemist Arthur Kornberg discovers DNA polymerase, an enzyme involved in the replication of DNA.

 

December, 1950: The Soviet Union detonate a two-stage fusion bomb with a yield of 1600 kilotons at the Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan.

 

August, 1951: Instead of assigning him to work in chemical warfare, the USA assigns the German physician Kurt Blome (who had experimented with Sarin gas on Auschwitz prisoners) to an Air Force research program examining the effects of high-altitude exposure on US pilots.

 

December, 1951: The United States begins their study of viral hepatitis at the Willowbrook State School for retarded children twelve years early. Studies on healthy children they inject with the virus reveal for the first time that viral hepatitis has two strains: hepatitis A and hepatitis B.

 

April, 1952: The Soviet Union launches a two-stage rocket to an altitude of three hundred kilometres.

 

May, 1952: A biochemistry laboratory at Harvard University led by Konrad Emil Block discovers the hepatitis B virus and constructs a vaccine against it.

 

June, 1952: Chinese Nationalist General Li Mi rejects United States offers to help him invade the Peoples Republic of China, and instead establishes an independent state in Burma to run the opium trade.

 

December, 1952: The American geneticist George Beadle describes the first know retrovirus, a virus that inserts its own genetic information into its host’s genetic material.

 

1953: After the United States funded coup to dispose Iranian Prime Minister Mosaddeq, the Shah of Iran appoints Ahmad Ghavam os-Saltaneh as Prime Minister instead of Fazlollah Zahedi. The new Prime Minister (besides promising to restore the flow of oil to world markets) announces public support for the independence of Azerbaijan, increasing tension between Iran and the Soviet Union.

 

1954: Instead of organising a coup to depose Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, the United States responds to lobbying by the United Fruit Company by paying six million dollars in compensation to the United Fruit Company.

 

1955: The US Atomic Energy Commission begins their study of testicular irradiation eight years early, finding that doses of one-hundred to four-hundred rads suffice to produce temporary sterility in Washington State Prison inmates.

 

1956: The United States detonate a two-stage fusion bomb with a yield of 10 megatons at Elugelab Island, Enewetak Atoll. The test destroys the island, leaving a crater two kilometres across.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moves the Doomsday Clock to three minutes to midnight.

 

1957: The naturalised American microbiologist Salvador Luria discovers enzymes that cut double-stranded DNA.

 

1958: A United States nuclear test goes wrong near Nam Island, Bikini Atoll, blanketing Marshallese Islanders on nearby atolls, personnel in the firing bunker, and a Japanese fishing ship with the fallout plume.

 

1959: The World Health Organisation leads a vigorous vaccination campaign against smallpox that succeeds in eradicating the disease worldwide.

 

1960: Two weeks before the scheduled opening of the East-West summit in Paris, the USSR shoots down an American spy plane sent to photograph nuclear missile sites in Sverdlovsk in the Soviet Union. The USSR captures the pilot, Francis Gary Powers, after he bails out near Sverdlovsk. Two days after announcing Powers’ capture, the USSR announce that he has died while trying to escape from custody. For reasons still mysterious, the United States do not challenge the claim.

 

July, 1961: Belief in various ‘End Times’ movements has grown in the West since the mid fifties. In an interview in July, United States Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis LeMay appears to imply that he believes Scripture foreordains worldwide nuclear war as the cataclysm that will precipitate the divine utopia of God’s Kingdom on earth.

 

September, 1961: The American chemist Stanley Miller sequences the complete genome, of 5386 bases, of the DNA virus PhiX174, becoming the first person to sequence the entire genome of any organism.

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