We all make mistakes, but often do not think what kind of ripple effect they may have in the future until it is too late. After all, accidentally spilling your coffee isn’t going to result in World War III – or will it? If you review history’s tiniest mistakes, you will notice that any misstep can have life-altering ramifications.
Germany Lost Normandy Because of A Birthday Party
In 1944, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel was in charge of defending Europe from the Allied Invasion. However, on June 6 he did what any loving husband would do; he took the weekend off to celebrate his wife’s birthday. While he was singing “Happy Birthday” the Allies landed at Normandy, leading to the largest German defeat of World War II.
A Loose Bolt Destroyed the Soviet N1 Moon Rocket
In 1969, the Soviets built the N1 rocket in hopes of reaching the moon first. Yet, a single loose bolt was overlooked during the rocket’s construction. The bolt managed to wedge itself into the fuel pump resulting in an explosion only 20 seconds into the mission. This catastrophe became one of the largest artificial non-nuclear explosions in history.
One Missed Switch Led To A New York Riot
In July 1977, lightning struck the New York Con Edison building. Numerous switches needed to be flipped in order to regain power. Yet, the operator overlooked one switch, leaving all of New York without power for 25 hours. The city descended into looting, arson, and vandalism, estimating $300,000,000 worth of destruction.
A Late Coal Delivery Destroyed Halifax Harbour
In 1917 the SS Imo, a Norwegian ship, was docked in the Halifax Harbour awaiting a coal delivery that was, in fact, two days behind schedule. By the time the ship was preparing to leave, the Mont-Blanc was headed in through the same channel that the SS Imo was positioned on. After unsuccessful navigating, both ships attempted to correct their courses but inevitably collided. Since the Mont-Blanc was carrying explosives the impact to the harbor and surrounding city was devastating.
NASA Lost The Mars Climate Orbiter Because of The Imperial System
In 1999, the Lockheed Martin team built the jet thrusters for NASA’s Mars Climate Orbiter. However, they utilized the imperial system rather than the metric system. The orbiter proceeded well off course and NASA was forced to list the equipment as “lost”.
A mistaken bureaucrat led to the Berlin Wall’s Destruction
In 1989, Gunter Schabowski held a press conference where he was expected to explain minor changes to the travel code. However, during his speech, Gunter misspoke insinuating that the travel restrictions would be removed completely. When questioned about this change, he casually advised that all changes would take effect right away. This resulted in travelers swarmed the border requesting passage. The authorities had no choice but to remove the wall.
Constantinople Defeated By An Unlocked Gate
For 1000 years, the citadel of the Roman Easter Empire was undefeated. Yet, in 1453, Sultan Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire raged war on the citadel. Two months into the siege, someone forgot to lock the gates of Constantinople. This allowed Mehmed’s army to gain control of the city and enslave the people.
A Typo Cost NASA $80,000,000
In 1962, NASA launched its first interplanetary probe, the Mariner 1. Its destination was intended for Venus. Yet a single typo in the computer’s equation, a missing hyphen, resulted in the craft veering off course. NASA was forced to detonate Mariner 1 a mere five minutes into its mission. This was considered one of NASA’s most expensive errors in history.
Titanic Sank Because of a Missing Key
April 1912, the Titanic sailed it’s maiden voyage with Charles Lightoller as it’s the second officer. Prior to launch, Lightoller forgot to obtain all of the keys from the previous officer, David Blair; including the key to the cabinet containing the binoculars. The lookout on board claimed that had he had a set of binoculars, he would have seen the iceberg with plenty of time to change Titanic’s course.
A Single Isotope Led To The Irradiation of Bikini Atoll
In 1954, many scientists assumed that Lithium-7 was an inactive compound and placed it inside of a nuclear bomb for testing. This resulted in a mushroom cloud explosion one thousand times more powerful than the bombs in Hiroshima. Traces of radiation spread to India, Japan, Australia, Europe and the United States.
The Bay of Pigs Invasion Failed Because of Time Difference
In 1961, the Pentagon planned a two-part invasion on Cuba which included both air and ground troops. Yet, the Pentagon neglected to confirm the time zone difference between Cuba and Nicaragua. As a result, the air troops arrived one hour late for the attack.