An army major passed up an idea for us to look at a rectangular array of 10,000 Atlas engines, the most powerful rockets we had, all pointing horizontally in one direction. The idea was that in the event of early warning they would ignite simultaneously and stop the earth’s rotation for a few seconds and cause the Soviet missiles to overshoot their target. This was not a joke. But it was a back of the notebook calculation. I took it to a physicist who did the sums and said, ‘No ten thousand would not be enough’. I remember thinking, could I be in the wrong line of work?- a former employee of the RAND Corporation remembers in All Your Tomorrows Today, BBC Radio 3 (listen again here).
[P.S. 1 Sep: The Royal Society has now published a serious collection of articles on the topic (and I'm not being sarcastic). But thumbs down to them for not making all the articles freely accessible.]