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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Dr. Strangelove can be found here.
The device was an extremely powerful nuclear bomb which was wired up to systems which would automatically detonate it if they detected a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. The bomb would produce enough nuclear fallout to wipe out all life on Earth within 10 months; except, perhaps, for those within fallout shelters such as those discussed by the President and his advisers in the final scene of the film. The device resembles the real-life Soviet "Dead Hand" system, developed decades later, in the 1980s. The system was capable, without human intervention or authorisation, of automatically launching nuclear missiles at predesignated targets if it detected a nuclear attack on Russia. It is believed to still be in use by Russia today, but by most accounts it is only activated during rare crisis situations in which a nuclear attack is thought to be imminent. In the book "Red Alert", on which the film is based, the doomsday device was a number of hydrogen bombs hidden in the Ural mountains, each with a cobalt shroud. The radioactive cobalt would then be spread through the atmosphere across the entire world, killing all life in the process.
In the film, the device is triggered by the bomb dropped on Russia by Major Kong's B-52. In the book, it was under the control of the Soviet leadership and was therefore a manual process.
It was meant to be Russia's way of deterring a nuclear attack. The theory goes like this: The Device was hooked up to enough bombs to create the fatal "doomsday shroud" that would eventually annihilate all life on earth. It was also unstoppable once it was triggered by a nuclear explosion. The desired effect was that no one would want to risk attacking Russia for fear of setting off the device, especially since no amount of negotiation with the Russians afterwards could possibly stop the thing from going off. As Strangelove said, the whole point of the Device is lost when it is kept a secret, which is one of the ultimate ironies of the film. Russia had hesitated too long between implementing the Device and announcing it to the world, and in the interim, General Ripper had taken the initiative to attack.
He was taking a picture of the big board, just as Buck Turgidson had feared he would.
To illustrate Kubrick's main point: That despite it all, both sides are simply aiming to get ahead of each other with no regard for the reality of a given situation. Everyone knows that the doomsday device has been activated, but the first thing on the Ambassador's mind is using the distraction to spy on the War Room.The Ambassador's sneaky photography is mirrored on the Americans' side by Buck Turgidson, who proclaims that they "cannot allow a mineshaft gap!" In this, he means that he truly believes that in the century or so of hiding in mineshafts, people will still be very concerned about staying one step ahead of Russia.In brief: Even at the end of the world, prejudice wins out over reason.
It was a very popular conspiracy theory in the 1940s and '50s, and is believed by some people even today
Water fluoridation has frequently been the subject of conspiracy theories. During the "Red Scare" in the United States during the late 1940s and 1950s, and to a lesser extent in the 1960s, activists on the far right of American politics routinely asserted that fluoridation was part of a far-reaching plot to impose a socialist or communist regime.
Operation Paperclip was a campaign to get Nazi supporting scientists to help the American government (mainly it was the moon mission, and usually they wouldn't have strong German accents and call people "Mein Fuhrer"...)
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