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Teen Kids News (Episode 1339)

23 minutes

Welcome to Teen Kids News. I'm Brandon. Let's begin with our top story.

If any of you never feel stressed out, now's a good time to get a snack. If you're part of the 99% of us who feel stress, listen up. Emily gets tips on how to deal with stress. The first thing you need to know is that stress is normal unless you're a genius, a gifted athlete, or a music or art prodigy. I wouldn't call them normal. Some stress is actually good. It can release adrenalin when we need it to avoid danger or accomplish a goal. Too much stress can be a problem. It can throw you off your game, make you sick. Knowing how to avoid being overstressed is something everyone needs to have in our toolkit. We're talking today with Dr. Megan Jones, a psychologist from Stanford University. Hi, Doctor. Hi. Whenever I have to take a big test, I feel lots of stress. What can I do about that? I think we all feel lots of stress before a big test. What you can do is pay attention to the thoughts that are making you feel so stressed. So, the way that we think affects how we feel. And you might want to pause and go somewhere where you have some privacy. Take a few minutes, and write down your thoughts. So, write down... ...whatever those thoughts are that are making you stressed. Then try to think positively and think confidently. So, what you tell yourself really matters. Let's go back to that stress thought, "I can't do this." What can you say instead? So revise that thought to: "I'm going to do well if I try hard enough." Or: "I can do this. I just need to focus." Things that make you feel more confident will help reduce that stress. Interesting. Now I've made myself feel more confident. Any other tips you can give me? Yes. A great in-the-moment tool for reducing your stress is to focus on your breathing. You can do that in a lot of different ways. One tool I find really easy and effective is counting your breaths. So, what you want to do here is count the number of breaths that you're taking. You say "one" when you're breathing in, and say "two" when you're breathing out, "three" when breathing in, "four" when breathing out. Just keep going until it feels right. It might be ten times. It might be 15 times. So let me show you what that looks like. My feet are on the floor. I'm sitting comfortably in a chair.

I'm going to breathe in. [inhales]

One. And breathe out.

[exhales] Two.

Breathe in. Three. [inhales]

Breathe out. Four. [exhales]

I'm feeling calmer. I hope you are too. I think I could definitely try that, Dr. Jones. Thank you. Thank you. The bottom line is, don't let stress take control of you. There are ways you can take control of your stress. We've got lots more to tell you about on Teen Kids News. There's an entire history lesson in the state flag. You just need to know what to look for.

[military drum solo]

Virginia is often called "the mother of presidents." Four of our first five presidents were born there. Since then, four more presidents have been Virginians. Virginia's state flag is a reference to overthrowing King George. You see the Roman goddess Virtus standing atop a tyrant. She's holding a sword in one hand, a spear in the other. The tyrant is laying on the ground with his crown knocked off his head.

(Veronique) It's hard to see, but the tyrant holds a broken chain and a broken whip. "Sic semper tyrannis" means... With "Flag Facts," I'm Veronique. Bet you didn't know one of your favorite childhood books was written on a bet. The publisher of the Dr. Seuss books challenged the author to write an entire book using fewer than 50 different words. Dr. Seuss rose to the challenge and wrote Green Eggs and Ham. Glad I am that he wrote Green Eggs and Ham. This important message is brought to you by the National Road Safety Foundation.

[hard rock music]

[slow synthesizer music]

[hard rock music]

I'm ready to go. [engine revs]

Dude, I'm running late. I'll be there as fast as I can.

[engine revving]

[engine revving]

[brakes screech] [car crashing]

[siren wailing]

[cheering]

[crowd cheering]

[cheering continues]

[heartbeat pounding]

[prolonged beeping]

[cheering]

Coming up, I'll tell you how a hole in the Tucson desert helped to keep our country safe from nuclear attack. Nuclear power, when used for peaceful purposes, it can light up entire cities. When used for war, nuclear power can devastate entire cities. Nicole reports on how weapons based on splitting a tiny atom set in motion a global arms race.

[explosion]

(Nicole) Nuclear weapons put an end to World War II. The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused terrible destruction and the surrender of Japan. Nuclear weapons have never been used since, except as a threat to prevent further war, not with the Japanese, but with the Soviet Russians. One of those threats was here in the Arizona desert. It's now a fascinating museum. This site was built because it was in the 1960s during the Cold War where we were sort of at war with the former Soviet Union.

(Nicole) When the Soviets aimed nuclear missiles at the United States, we aimed missiles at them, missiles called ICBM's. ICBM stands for "intercontinental ballistic missile." That means it can fly from our continent to another continent carrying a nuclear warhead. One kind of ICBM was the Titan II. It was a giant rocket kept armed and ready to launch in an underground chamber called a "silo." In all, there were 54 silos spread across uninhabited areas of the U.S. They're no longer in use, but you can take a tour of one, thanks to the Arizona Aerospace Foundation. Welcome to Launch Complex 571-7. Thank you. We're going to go underground. Whoo-hoo. Nuclear missiles are always kept underground because that is the safest place you can be in a nuclear war. We're going to go down about 35 feet. Watch your step here.

(Nicole) Chuck explained what it was like to visit the site when it was manned by the Air Force and fully operational. Visitors didn't just drop by. This area we came through is called the "entrapment cage." We're going to keep everybody that comes in locked in this cage until we figure out they belong here. Looking at 'em on a close-circuit camera, they got to read a special code to get in. What's the code? The special code changes with every person on the complex. It's what's called a "one-time code."

(Nicole) Now that it's a museum, we don't need a code, but we still need to get past these special doors. They're designed so that one door only opens after the other door closes. And the walls down here are super thick-- four feet of concrete. Chuck led us to the nerve center of the big underground complex. This is the control center. Wow. And this is where the crew waited while they were waiting for the order to launch. Lucky for us that they never got that far and we're all still here. The cool thing about the control center is that it's a three-story building. The crews quarters is upstairs. Think about that. It's like a Motel 2. Downstairs is an equipment room. The three floors are not attached to the walls. The entire structure is bolted together and suspended from eight huge springs around the perimeter of the room. So, in response to a nuclear shock wave, we would just bounce up and down or sway from side to side, and we'd be safe. What all of this equipment is, all this is just designed to keep the missile in a constant state of readiness and to let us launch it if we get the order to do that.

(Nicole) When we return, I get to experience what it meant to be responsible for launching a Titan II nuclear missile.

We're in the command center at the Titan Missile Museum near Tucson, Arizona. Chuck is running me through the complex procedure of launching a Titan II nuclear missile. I'm going to ask you to have a seat in the commander's chair there, and we'll talk about what's the process for actually launching the missile. First of all, the only person in the United States who can authorize the use of nuclear weapons is... The president. I knew you would know that. Wherever the president goes, he's followed around by this guy with a briefcase they refer to as the "football."

(Nicole) If the president were to open the briefcase and send the message to launch, it'd set off a response like this at every missile silo.

[alarm blaring]

[man over radio] One, two, three,

Charlie, hotel... [distorted transmission continues] You and I are going to grab our decoder books and start writing down the message in these notebooks. We're going to write every letter and number that we hear. It goes on and on for 35 characters. When we're done copying the message, we're going to check each other's work. They'll read the message again. If we're convinced that we've copied the right message, then we have what is called a "valid message," an authorization to take these locks off this safe. There are two locks on the safe-- a lock for me and a lock for you. We know our own combinations. We don't know each other's. We have to agree to open the safe. Out of the safe we're going to take a couple of things. We're going to take a group of authenticator cards. In our message, they gave us a code word. Look at the first two letters of the code word. Say it's Q5. We're going to open this envelope. Inside, there's the whole code word. If that code word matches the code word in our message, then this is a legitimate order from the president. We have a valid launch order. Would you acknowledge? Have an update. The next thing we take out of the safe is our launch keys. It takes two to fire the missile. You put a key in here, because you're the commander. I put a key in here. The keys need to be turned within two seconds of each other and held for five seconds to start the launch. That guarantees that two people are required to do this. One person can't run back and forth. Also in our message we get the time of launch. Write it with a crayon across the face of the clock. And last but not least, we get the secret unlock code for the missile.

(Nicole) This next secret code will unlock valves to fuel the missile. It comes in with the launch order. The code is complex to make sure the launch is very deliberate. You need to accomplish four things to launch the missile: authenticate the message, install your keys, figure out the time of launch, enter the BBL combination. Once you've done that, you are good to go. All set, Commander? All set. Let's just reiterate that this is a retaliatory weapon. So we would not be asked to launch this unless the enemy had already fired at us. So we can assume that topside, up there, nuclear bombs are going off someplace. So this is our cue to go. Commander, you need to give me a countdown, like, "Three, two, one, turn keys." All right? By the way, crew always use their left hand to turn the key. Is there a reason for that? The reason the crew used their left hand is because, if you use your right, you obscure your view of these lights. It's important to see those lights. Commander, give me the countdown. Okay, three, two, one. Turn keys, and hold.

(Nicole) I see a light come on. You may release. That's all there is to it. The green light says "launch enable." For all intents and purposes, that light should say: "Welcome to World War III."

[roaring]

(Nicole) It's comforting to point out that these missiles were only launched in drills. Red alert. Red alert. Red alert. Can I have contact, please? G-E-O loud and clear. Roger. Initiate terminal. Order has been received. Start locks only. Launch exercise. Checklist, please.

(Nicole) And one more thing. The museum wants everyone to know the missile here is no longer armed and dangerous. This is the top of the silo. Behind me is the silo door. It rides back and forth on railroad tracks, weighs 760 tons, can be fully opened in 20 seconds. The missile is right under that glass window. We put a window there to satisfy the Soviets so they can look down with spy satellites and figure out that it's not active. In time of war, this is where the missile would come out and begin its flight.

(Nicole) We'll continue our tour of this incredible museum when Teen Kids News returns.

(Nicole) We're below the surface of the Arizona desert. Today this is the Titan Missile National Historic Landmark, a museum. But for many years, this missile site was on constant alert. Just sitting in the commander's chair gives you the feeling of the tremendous responsibility these officers had. Yvonne Morris used to sit in it, for real. I spent four years in this chair, from 1980 to 1984, because I was a Titan II missile combat crew commander. I was stationed at this site.

(Nicole) She helps run the museum. Back in the day, she was in the hot seat. I was in charge of the crew that would have launched the missile based here. How did it keep us safe from attack? The Titan II, its job was peace through deterrence. That meant that we were supposed to show the former Soviet Union that if they ever launched their missiles against us, we would launch Titan II missiles, among others, against them, and that we would retaliate with such force that they would not be able to survive it. And that's called "mutual assured destruction."

[explosion]

(Nicole) It's mad, all right. The memory of that tense time is the reason this museum exists. We made it into a museum because you can't know what the future is gonna be. You can't influence the future if you don't understand where you came from. So, in the future, people are going to have to make very important decisions about nuclear weapons and how they're used. They can get at least some of the information they need to make those decisions right here.

(Nicole) Interesting as the control center was, there was still a lot more to see. Let's head down toward the silo. While we're going, we're going to stop quickly along the way. There's something I'd like to show you. These are propellant-handling suits. Wow. The propellant for Titan II is really toxic. To be working with it, you got to wear these suits. They're like moon suits, but they're not air-conditioned. If you're wearing one on the surface, and it's 105 degrees, 15 minutes is all you can stand. You want to try the helmet? Absolutely. Check this out. Oh, it's heavy. Yeah, the whole suit, everything-- the oxygen, everything-- weighs almost 50 pounds. To get to the silo, we need to walk through this tunnel. It's called a "cable way." A cable way is fully shock-isolated. These are springs on both sides. The reason is, it's carrying electric power cables from the silo. It's carrying missile telemetry cables over here. It's carrying piping to the control center on this side. The whole thing is shock-resistant? Right. If we got a hit, it'd all stay together. It never got tested? It never got tested. That's a good thing. We're going to go where we never take visitors. Right this way. Wow. Here it is. This is the missile? This is the missile. This is Titan II. And the only purpose of this whole big missile is to deliver that nuclear warhead to a target on the other side of the world. That bit of black at the top? That cone is the only part that makes it to the target. Everything else is thrown away. This huge missile. How big is it? I'll show you. Look over the edge.

[gasps] Wow!

There's ten stories straight down.

(Nicole) It's such a long way down that to visit the bottom of the missile, we had to take an elevator. All right. All righty. This is so cool. You'll love this. Wow! Look up.

[gasps] Oh, my goodness.

Is that something? Whoa! Fortunately, America has never had to fire a nuclear missile in wartime and hopefully never will. For Teen Kids News, I'm Nicole. That wraps up our show. Be sure to tune in to Teen Kids News again next week. Accessibility provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

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In this episode, get some tips on how to deal with stress. The top news story for this episode includes a special tour of the Titan Missile Museum in Arizona. Other segments include facts about Virginia's state flag, a children's book that was written on a bet, and driver safety tips. Part of the "Teen Kids News" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 23 minutes

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