Beth Dreher

Stanislav Petrov Former Soviet missile defense forces officer Stanislav Petrov poses for a photo at his home in Fryazino, Moscow region, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. On Sept. 26, 1983, despite the data coming in from the Soviet Union's early-warning satellites over the United States, Petrov, a Soviet military officer, decided to consider it a false alarm. If he had decided otherwise, the Soviet leadership could have responded by ordering a retaliatory nuclear strike on the United States Tout icon

10 Split-Second Decisions That Changed History

Whether you consider these choices oversight, instinct, or pure luck, what followed could have easily gone another way. Read on for scary proof that the future often hinges on seemingly inconsequential decisions.