During the Cold War, Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) were designed to send nuclear warheads hurtling across the globe, aimed at population centers. The outlook wasn't good. If the missiles were ever launched, not only the U.S. and Russia, but the entire world would have been plunged into a nuclear winter from which humanity would likely not emerge. But now, the clouds of that potential Armageddon could be parting.
At Japan's University of Tokyo, doctoral student Huai-Chien Chang has proposed the redeployment of these deadly relics of a bygone age — as vehicles of disaster relief. These humanitarian ICBMs, loaded with everything from food and water to emergency generators and fuel would be capable of reaching any corner of the globe in a single hour, just like their deadly predecessors.
Chang doesn't intend for his re-designated ICBMs to be launched willy-nilly. Instead he envisions them as a sort of niche-market first responder. Remote locations or those to where access has been cut off by traditional means could receive immediate aid. Food, water and electricity could be supplied while the roads are cleared, keeping survivors alive until human help arrives.
If all goes well, the world of tomorrow could be a place where missiles are viewed as saviors rather than weapons of mass destruction.