Weight of Errors: 45 Disastrous Mistakes and Blunders That Shaped History

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1Vladimir Komarov

Vladimir Komarov

In 1967, the Soviet cosmonaut, Vladimir Komarov died in an accident on the Soyuz 1 mission, making him the first human to die in a space flight. Komarov was aware of the faulty design of the shuttle and specifically asked the authorities to give him an open casket funeral after the mission.

2. The Castle Bravo test, which was the largest nuclear bomb to ever be tested by the United States, ended up accidentally being three times stronger than expected due to a miscalculation. This resulted in most of the test equipment being destroyed or vaporized, rendering the experiment a failure.

3. Because of a typographical error, the "wicked bible" stated "thou shalt commit adultery." Published in 1631, this Bible is also known as an "adulterous Bible" or the "sinners' Bible." Only several hundred copies remain and they're worth $100,000 to collectors.

4. The South Atlantic Anomaly is a region in space right above the South Atlantic where computers crash and astronauts lose part of their vision. It is caused by the Earth being misaligned with its magnetic field. The Hubble Space Telescope does not take observations while passing through it and it even destroyed Japan's most powerful X-ray telescope which is thought to have been caused by a guidance computer crash.

5. In 1983, due to a unit conversion error (lbs instead of kg), Air Canada flight 143 ran out of fuel at 41,000 feet and glided down on an abandoned airfield being used as a racing circuit. Everyone survived and the plane was barely damaged. It was then flown out to be repaired.

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6Australian $50 Typo

Australian $50 Typo

About 46 million dollars’ worth of Australian $50 bills that went into circulation in October 2018 had a typo error on it. It went unnoticed for months until it was spotted by a radio listener. The central bank misspelled the word "responsibility" as "responsibilty." The error was fixed in future print runs.

7. In 1999, NASA lost a $125 million Mars Climate Orbiter because of a calculation error. The mistake occurred because Lockheed Martin engineers used English (inch, ft) measurements in their calculations in contrast to NASA's metric (cm, m) calculations.

8. In 2014, due to an error, U.S Government’s Selective Service System accidentally drafted 14,000 Pennsylvania men born between 1893 and 1897. The letters which were sent out ordered them to register for the nation's military draft, warning that failure to do so was "punishable by a fine and imprisonment."

9. Devil's Tower in Wyoming was mistakenly named so when Col. Richard Irving Dodge's interpreter botched a translation, calling it 'Bad God's Tower,' which was eventually shortened to Devils Tower.

10. In 2005, a Japanese company called Mizuho Securities Company lost at least $225 million on a stock trade due to a typo error. The typo accidentally listed 610,000 shares of their company at 1 yen apiece, instead of what they intended: one share for 610,000 yen ($5,041).

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111971 Blunder Bowl

1971 Blunder Bowl

In 1971, Super Bowl V was the first Super Bowl after the AFL / NFL Merger and was known as the Blunder Bowl because there were 11 turnovers and numerous other miscues by both teams and referees. The MVP award was given to Chuck Howley from the losing team-the only time that's ever happened.

12. The City of St. Albert in Alberta forgot which Saint Albert they were named after (Albert of Louvain), and erroneously built a statue of and promoted the wrong St. Albert (St. Albert the Great) for 23 years until they realized the mistake.

13. In New York City, there is a pizza-sized plot of land sitting in the middle of a sidewalk. As a result of a surveying error, it was left as part of an estate. The heirs refused to donate this small plot of land to New York City and instead put a mosaic on the plot in 1922. The mosaic is still there, surrounded by a sidewalk.

14. During the American Civil War, an entire regiment of 864 men was accidentally awarded the Medal of Honor as a result of a typographical error.

15. On Nov 20, 1980, a Texaco oil rig accidentally drilled into the Diamond Crystal Salt Company salt mine under the Lake Peigneur. Due to a miscalculation, the 14-inch (36 cm) drill bit entered the mine, starting a chain of events that turned the lake from freshwater to saltwater.

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16Fall Of The Berlin Wall

Fall Of The Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall came down by mistake. The East Germans had planned to slowly open the border and announced it at a press conference without including a plan. When a reporter asked when it would be opened, the party official mistakenly said "Immediately, without delay" causing a run on the wall.

17. US President George Washington's official portrait has a spelling error: one of the books in the painting is titled "Laws and Constitution of the United S-a-t-e-s."

18. The film "It's a Wonderful Life" was considered a box office failure upon release in 1946. A clerical error placed the film in the public domain in 1974 causing many local TV networks to play the film for free, popularizing it as a Christmas classic.

19. Richard Harris was so drunk through the 1970s that he forgot he owned a Rolls Royce. It sat in a New York garage for 25 years before he found an old photo of himself with it and his accountant confirmed it was still there running up $90k in garage storage costs.

20. The oldest animal (at least, the oldest whose age has been identified) was a 507-year-old clam that washed up on the beach in Iceland. Researchers, not realizing how old the clam was, killed it while they were examining it.

21Hulk Color Error

Hulk Color Error

The original Hulk was not supposed to be green, but gray. Due to a printing error, the Hulk showed up as green instead of grey.

22. In 1916, a miscalculation of Montana's population led to 40,000 men being drafted into World War I, which at that time was 10% of the state's population.

23. Cosmic Rays can trigger bitflips (Soft Errors) in computers, glitching them in disastrous ways.

24. In 2013, a bank worker in Germany fell asleep on his keyboard's number 2 button, causing him to transfer 222,222,222 euros on a transfer that should've been worth only 62 euros. His co-worker was later sacked for not spotting the error.

25. Leap year was introduced in 46 B.C., but around 10 B.C., it was found that the priests in charge of computing the calendar had been adding leap years every three years instead of the four decreed by Caesar. As a result of this error, no more leap years were added until 8 A.D.

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