EMP: Elaborate Hoax Or Legitimate Threat?

Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

As a prepper and avid reader of post-apocalyptic fiction like One Second AfterAlas Babylon, and Going Home, an EMP has long been on my mind as one of the most catastrophic threats we could face.

After reading numerous reports from the Congressional EMP Commission, I figured that the reality of such a threat was a given. So when I recently wrote about making Faraday cages, imagine my surprise when I saw this comment:

I appreciate the attempt to help people prepare for all kinds of disasters, but I’m going to have to throw a conversational bomb into this room, so to speak.

EMP is a total scam. See here: https://www.lewrockwell.com/2018/02/david-hathaway/emp-hoax/

Not only is EMP a scam, nuclear weapons are probably a scam. Certainly they were at the time of abhorrent and immoral destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, both cities victimized by fire bombing like all the other Japanese cities.

I suppose protection against lightning might be useful, a system of lightning rods being an alternative. I wouldn’t lose sleep at night over this EMP nonsense, especially when there are real dangers we face every day.


I was really surprised to see this. I went to read the article at the link and discovered the author of it had written an entire book on the topic called EMP Hoax. The book had a forward written by Lew Rockwell, for whom I have the deepest respect. Mr. Rockwell wrote of a nuclear detonation over the Pacific Ocean in 1962:

One purpose of the blast was to study the impact, if any, of Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) effects. One incident is alleged to show such effects. Based on this incident, the government concluded that hostile powers could use EMPs to disable the electronic infrastructure of our country. Even after the Cold War ended, the government has continued to tout the threat posed by EMPs.

Hathaway comments: “The alleged incident happened on the island of Oahu which is made up of the City and County of Honolulu. This incident has developed a cult following within the EMP science community. The incident allegedly involved blown fuses in a small number (less than 1%) of street light strings. It has been trotted out for decades as the single definitive proof of EMP effects on power grid and long-wire infrastructure.”

Hathaway isn’t convinced. He presents a painstaking discussion of the incident, subsequent investigations, and the science behind EMP effects. He writes clearly about complicated science, and his conclusion is backed by abundant evidence: “EMP is a ridiculous notion; one that we are supposed to give up our money, our common sense, and our freedom to validate. From the state’s perspective, there is always some area of life where people haven’t yet developed the proper level of panic to make them tolerate the forced filling of state coffers in relation to that area. There is always something new to fear that the public can’t quite grasp without the government to ratchet up its fears.”

David Hathaway deserves our gratitude for his excellent and timely account of a little-known propaganda campaign by the State.” (source)

So with this in mind, I spent the weekend doing some research on the topic.

Some mainstream outlets concur that EMP is not a legitimate threat.

Vice interviewed an analyst from Stratfor about how concerned we should be about an EMP. The analyst was pretty thorough, and concluded that he believed it was “not impossible” but “unlikely.”

It’s not that EMPs are not a threat. It’s just that—although the effect would be massive—currently they’re not really a risk apart from nuclear strikes, so highlighting them as the greatest threat there is might not be entirely realistic…

…When we’re talking about realistic versus unrealistic threats, currently generating an EMP with a nuclear weapon is the most feasible way to do it. Homebuilt EMP weapons aren’t very feasible. The cost you would put into building such a system versus the benefit that you would actually gain is very, very impaired…

…Besides the weight, and the cost of whatever you use to generate that kind of electricity—a capacitor, a large amount of batteries, or whatever power generation method—the cost would be so high, but the damage you can do with it would be so limited, that other much cheaper methods might be more efficient when it comes to damaging the area that you’re targeting. (source)

Larry Kummer of FabiusMaximus.com believes the threat of EMP is pure propaganda and points out that the naysayers don’t get press but there are plenty of them out there. He wrote:

The threat of EMP’s has been debunked many times. But only in the back pages. Experts know that speaking against the fear narratives gets one blackballed from the defense gravy train and blacklisted by journalists. Only the threat mongers, the warmongers, get attention.

The Wall Street Journal shows how the propaganda narrative works. There is a large body of analysis showing that the EMP threat is grossly exaggerated, especially versus the serious ones we face. For details see these posts about EMPs: Electromagnetic Pulse Weapons, generating waves of fear in America for 20 years and Renowned Physicists Cast Doubt on Gingrich’s Far-Fetched Scenario about EMP weapons. None of this appears in the WSJ, who give only the warnings. Some examples…

Then, Mr. Kummer rightly points out the threat of solar flares and other space weather events, which would wreak similar havoc to our electronics. He concludes, “Since natural threats don’t have anything like the military-industrial complex to shill for them, we remain vulnerable to events certain to occur eventually.”

Matthew Gault from War is Boring calls EMP an “overrated threat.” He interviewed cybersecurity expert Peter Singer, who had a LOT to say about his feeling that an EMP strike was unlikely. Here are some of the highlights from that interview.

“There’s this irony of the people who think it’s serious not realizing that they’re the joke,” he explained. “When you walk through the actual scenarios of use, it doesn’t pass the logic test.”

…Setting aside the geopolitical gymnastics that must occur to lead to that kind of exchange, if a foreign power detonated a 100 or more kiloton in an electromagnetic attack on America, then the world is at war and there’s little strategic benefit for the aggressor to not just go ahead and nuke a city.

“It doesn’t mean it can’t happen,” Singer told me. “But if the other side is using EMPs we’re moving into thermonuclear war.”

“A weapon of mass destruction is preferable to a weapon of mass disruption,” Butt explained. “A state would be highly unlikely to launch an EMP strike from their own territory because the rocket could be traced to the country of origin and would probably result in nuclear or massive conventional retaliation by the U.S.”

…However, we don’t know what the effects of an EMP might be. Studies conducted by both the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War produced dramatically different results every time.

An electromagnetic pulse is a highly unpredictable side effect of a predictably horrifying weapon. “It’s not a weapon we’ve seen past use of. Ever. Literally ever. Nor tests of,” Singer said. (source)

Patrick Disney of The Atlantic calls the hullabaloo a “campaign to terrify” us about the threat of an EMP and says it all goes back to the money trail of increased ballistic missile defenses. He believes the threat is unlikely to occur because of its unpredictable nature.

It may be that a terrorist, after going through the trouble of acquiring a nuclear warhead and a missile capable of delivering it to America’s shores, would be a fool to employ the ultimate weapon in such a cockamamie fashion. The effects of an EMP are far from universal; according to one commissioned study, a best-case scenario would impact 70 percent of electronics, while a worst-case estimate could be as low as 5 percent. Far better from the terrorist’s perspective to deliver the bomb as it was intended, rather than hang his hopes on a series of unpredictable events and second- or third-order consequences. After all, a nuclear bomb need not be made any more devastating to serve a terrorist’s purposes.

A slightly more plausible scenario could involve a state actor who, facing a vastly superior U.S. military massed on its border, might consider launching an EMP attack against U.S. troops as a way of evening the playing field. Because the U.S. military is much more highly dependent on technology than others, a rogue state facing the threat of invasion could conceivably attempt such a tactic against invading forces in the hopes that it could damage their capabilities without incurring the totally devastating retaliation that a “regular” nuclear strike would surely provoke. Of course, a wide-ranging EMP would knock out his own electronics as much as it would anyone else’s, so even this scenario is a bit far-fetched. (source)

These are all valid arguments. If a country or a group of terrorists acquired the nuclear capability to set off an EMP above America, would they do that even if they weren’t positive it would work? The retaliation if it didn’t work – heck, even if it DID work – would be formidable and thorough.

But all this doesn’t mean an EMP strike is impossible.

While it is possible we may be getting played by the fearmongers, it still doesn’t mean that a disaster that would take out our grid is impossible. It doesn’t mean that people who are preparing with Faraday cages and long-term supplies are being silly.

First of all, these preps will help us through a wide variety of disasters. The protected electronics would see us through a space weather event, and the other preps would help us through anything from World War 3 to a raging pandemic. I’ve mentioned my own plan to prep low-tech because it’s budget-friendly and it will get us through many different emergencies. There are all sorts of reasons the grid could be down for an extended period of time. Look no further than Puerto Rico to see that is a fact.

And furthermore, regarding an EMP, we simply don’t know what it would do because it has never happened.

I reached out to Dr. Arthur T. Bradley and asked him about his thoughts on whether an EMP was a legitimate threat or a gigantic hoax. Dr. Bradley is an electrical engineer at NASA and has done a lot of scholarly research on the possibilities of EMP and space weather events. He’s a prolific author and his book Disaster Preparedness for EMP Attacks and Solar Storms is a classic that belongs on every prepper’s bookshelf. (Find all of his books here.) Needless to say, Dr. Bradley is a pro and knows that of which he speaks.

Here’s his very thorough answer:

To address whether or not an EMP is a scam, we should first ask what it is we’re wanting to deny. An EMP is simply a broadband electromagnetic pulse. Such a pulse can be created by the sudden release of energy, such as a spark gap or on a larger scale, a bolt of lightning. Likewise, a very large explosion can release an EMP due to gamma rays ionizing nearby air molecules. EMPs from these events are well understood, and there are countless technical papers addressing the phenomenon. Even without expert confirmation, most people have experienced the phenomenon when their radio, phone, or TV suddenly “pops” when a bolt of lightning strikes nearby. Simply put, to say that “EMP is a scam” is to deny science.

The real question at hand is are the effects of a nuclear-generated EMP really as significant as people claim. The short answer to that is no one knows for sure. The US government observed EMPs during nuclear testing in the 60’s, such as during the Starfish experiments, and it was identified as a possible weapon to disrupt an enemy’s infrastructures. The Russians also did extensive EMP testing during the same period, including the Soviet Test 184 in 1962 that caused extensive damage on the ground, including destroying the Karaganda power plant.

The US Air Force later built a very large $60 million wooden structure, known as ATLAS-I (aka Trestle), to study how best to harden systems against an EMP. More recently, the government commissioned a group of technical experts to assess the nation’s vulnerabilities to such an attack.

This council was known as the EMP Commission and issued a Critical National Infrastructures Report in April of 2008. In it, the commission discussed in detail how the nation’s critical infrastructures and citizens could be disrupted by a high-altitude nuclear-generated EMP, and the feasibility of hardening military and civilian systems. The EMP Commission was later reestablished in 2006 to make specific recommendations on reducing our susceptibilities.

Their conclusion was that an EMP “has the capability to produce significant damage to critical infrastructures that support the fabric of U.S. society and the ability of the United States and Western nations to project influence and military power,” and “damage to or loss of these components could leave significant parts of the electric power grid out of service for months to a year or more.” The loss of electricity would lead to the subsequent disruption of every other infrastructure, including food and water distribution, telecommunications, banking, transportation, emergency services, government, and energy production.

Whether or not the commission’s assessments would prove accurate is impossible to say, since no country has ever suffered a wide-scale EMP attack. What can be said is that a group of highly-trained experts commissioned by the government came to some very dire conclusions about the effects of an EMP attack. 

So can it happen? We have a very decisive agreement on “maybe.”

My own conclusion? Keep prepping.

After reading all of this, it’s pretty clear that nobody knows for sure whether an EMP attack is likely or would work as an enemy might hope. There is compelling evidence from both sides of the argument that leave us up in the air.

As a prepper who wants to be ready for everything, here’s my advice.

An EMP that takes the grid down indefinitely is only one possibility among many others that could cause a long-term power outage.

So obviously, this isn’t an “it can never happen” scenario. Being ready for a long-term power outage and shutdown of the supply line is just common sense.

The twist of an EMP is that it would be longer-term and you can protect some of your devices from such an event. Faraday cages would also protect your electronics from a solar event. A Faraday cage is simple and inexpensive to make (learn how here) and the devices you would protect would be things that you would use anyway in certain types of emergencies, like communications devices, a backup laptop, and solar chargers. So, really, it isn’t costing you very much extra money to additionally make some preparations for the possibility that an EMP could occur.

As far as low-tech, off-grid systems, I think they’re a good idea for all sorts of reasons. Here are a few examples:

  • When I lived in the boondocks, I had no washing machine at my house. Having a backup way to do laundry helped me lengthen the time between my one-hour drive each way to the laundromat.

  • Having solar chargers and lights have been nothing but helpful in power-outage situations.

  • I yearn for solar panels on my roof to reduce my electric bill and decrease my dependence on public utilities.

  • California has had rolling power outages for years to manage the extra demand for power in the heat of summer – wouldn’t off-grid supplies make that more comfortable?

None of these preps are outrageous and most are very multipurpose. I think it’s very important to diversify your basic preps to see you through a wide variety of emergencies, and the potential (or lack thereof) of an EMP is no different.


any_mouse DontWorry Mon, 05/14/2018 - 21:50 Permalink

Those "highly-trained experts", such as the man made global warming crowd?

The threat of EMP creates a need to study EMP, a study that cannot be ever tested in real life.

What we do know:

The power grid is relatively ancient and has many structural points of failure.

Components that are built to order only when required as replacements or for new service.

We are doing nothing to address these real issues, instead spending resources on a perceived threat of a side effect of an all out war affecting CONUS.

Expending resources for better living in peacetime loses to expending resources for limited survivability in wartime.

In reply to by DontWorry

King of Ruperts Land ShorTed Mon, 05/14/2018 - 22:36 Permalink

There is a straw man constructed above. I have no doubt nukes exist and produce the instant toasting of flesh, fire starting, blast effec, prompt radiation exposure and fallout exposure and some (minor) EMP effects. There is an EMP effect, but if your flesh is on fire, you have been exposed to fatal (within a few days) radiation and you are trapped under rubble, it is not your major problem. I just object to the 1 year power outages and mass disaster. The levels of EMP effect are too minor and men are too good at fixing and repairing to be as much of a disaster as claimed. Lightning creates EMP but a lightning rod protects from direct lightning strike but not from the EMP generated by lightning. You can hear the EMP from lightning as a crackle on an AM radio. Does it kill your car? No. There is EMP created from fuel injectors in cars. The standard reference for nuclear EMP is observations from high altitude test explosions.

The overall danger is like the threat from lightning storms and birds and squirrels being electrocuted and casing breakers to trip.

Caveat: I have heard no reports of any specially designed weapon to intentionally maximize the energy of the EMP pulse. Perhaps a weapon could create stronger EMP intentionally. However the ordinary effects as described above are so "good" (as a weapon) why waste them.

To nuke out the USA one doesn't need to do EMP just nuke all cities of >20,000 population, as is the original total retaliation plan.

This is the USA retaliation plan: Nuke all USSR and China cities over 20,000 population. So I assume the Ruskies have the same capability. And No, USA is not protected by anti basaltic missile interceptors. Moscow is, but in the US only North Dakota is.

In reply to by ShorTed

Perimetr King of Ruperts Land Mon, 05/14/2018 - 23:31 Permalink

Another uninformed article by semi-literate prepper 

who has no real knowledge of history or science.

The Soviets conducted a number of tests of EMP shortly before the test ban treaty went into effect.

One 300 kiloton detonation over Kazakhstan induced enough current into a buried powerline to burn down a power station 500 miles away. And that was long before everything had microcircuits, which are orders of magnitude more susceptible to EMP than 1960s electronics were.

EMP will fry any electronic device connected to a power line or the grid.  It will fry your solar system if you are where the E1 component is strong.  It is like having a lightning bolt hit every couple square yards of Earth's surface. 

The Congressional Report on EMP was sanitized to remove what would happen to nuclear power plants -- they all would melt down.

The fuel pools will also have their cooling systems destroyed, so they will boil off and the fuel rods will rupture, releasing enormous amounts of ionizing radiation. 

There are a number of bogus studies out there that were created by the Federal government to make EMP appear to be unimportant. They did the same thing for nuclear winter.  It's bad for business to be anti-nuclear, you know.


In reply to by King of Ruperts Land

cbxer55 Perimetr Mon, 05/14/2018 - 23:41 Permalink

Wow, there's sanity here after all. Very good, I agree. Upticked ya. I read that whole damn boring EMP Commission report. What I remember was on one page, think it was 46, they said that "large portions of the US will cease to be habitable by civilization as we know it. Something like that. Was some years ago, and I refuse to read it again. Refuse to prep for it as well. I'm 56, lived a good life. I don't want to exist like we did in the 1800's, HELL NO! I'd rather be pushin up daisies. 

In reply to by Perimetr

Sir Edge cbxer55 Tue, 05/15/2018 - 00:15 Permalink


For God's Sake... Do NOT Watch The Following Video Because It's 3 Hours Long... Wait... 

I Mean Do Not Watch The Following Video...  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8vUfLrWkvo

...Because It Offers The Counter Argument explaining that Nuclear Weapons Are Fake... 

Got It...

The US Government and Governments around the world lie about almost everything but not Nukes...

Common... They are Real...  

I got the PERFECT video that proves it... You can see It's Impossible To Fake Nukes...

..... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwmHoWfwHiw    

See I told ya... It is Impossible to Fake A Nuke Explosion... Case Closed... 

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were Nuked... Yes Nuked... Not Firebombed... Read it right here... !!


and finally here are TWO short 1.5 minute videos that show 100 ton TNT explosion... and you can clearly these explosions do not look anything like a nuclear bomb what so ever when they use TNT... so again Case Closed... 



Now get off my back... I am with you... I Believe... I Believe... The US Gov Does Not Lie... Ever... 

In reply to by cbxer55

King of Ruperts Land Perimetr Tue, 05/15/2018 - 00:16 Permalink

Perimetr, a 500 mile power line could develop enough voltage to be effected by a Soviet test, but contrary to what you claim, devices have been made more resistant to EMP over time.

I have no problem with Electrical Engineers studying this and improving EMI resistance. However this doomsday crap directed at the public has one of two causes:

1. Certain interest scheme to make money off the "problem"

2. The US realizes that the only sure defense to an incoming ICBM is to intercept it with a nuke. Then even if it wasn't a nuke incoming the USA could say threat the enemy EMP'd us.

In reply to by Perimetr

Theosebes Goodfellow King of Ruperts Land Mon, 05/14/2018 - 23:39 Permalink

~"To nuke out the USA one doesn't need to do EMP just nuke all cities of >20,000 population, as is the original total retaliation plan."~

1.) To nuke the USA, your highness, all it takes is one nuke, detonated high enough above Kansas to pulse almost all of the 48 states lower and a good portion of Canada.

2.) Whatever amount of shielding anyone does can be mitigated by upping the voltage of the detonation. When you try to shield your stuff, you have to take a stab at what you think the pulse will be and hope you have insulated the things you are trying to shelter enough. (Hint: multiple levels of insulation and grounding work best.

3.) Shielding is dirt cheap. Think aluminum foil, chicken wire, and grounding stakes inside grounded, metal buildings. Redundancy can be pricey. If you have a vehicle with modern electronics, you will need a complete spare set of electronic components for it to run, more than likely. That's why the old points ignition vehicles are very cool to have. Just throw several spare sets of points and condensers in the Faraday cage and you're good to go. That applies to computers, hard drives, electronics boards for the newer gennies, microwaves, communication devices, the list does not end there.

4.) Fuel, water, medical care, police services all will be impacted. If you have the only vehicle running in your area because you had the foresight to prepare for it, be prepared to have your vehicle, generators, fuel, etc. commandeered by your local LEOs  who didn't have your amount of wit but still have a badge and a gun. Remember, cops do not take to "Go fuck yourself" too kindly for some reason, even more so when they are under duress from an apparent cataclysmic event.

5.) The sad fact is that most folks do not have enough food in their houses to feed themselves for more than about 3 days. Most have even less. Try to imagine what it would be like to try to shop in say a Walmart with the power off, (presuming they actually opened their doors). The aforementioned folks will be there starting on day one. By day four they will be animals. Do you really need to jump into that action? Don't want that? Larder harder.

If/When an EMP occurs, you want to be able to stay home, securing your shit, for as long as possible. Your property rights will suck hind titty to folks who have nothing to do, (because their TV is dead), but try to "make the most out of a bad situation", especially if they think your shit is an easy grab.

How much scratch you throw at this is similar to how much money you put towards insurance. If you think you will never need cancer insurance, don't spend money on it. If you don't think you will ever see an EMP, don't prep.  

In reply to by King of Ruperts Land

Theosebes Goodfellow King of Ruperts Land Tue, 05/15/2018 - 10:31 Permalink

~"I won't respond to every point in your ludicrous tirade, but I assure you that law enforcement will have better things to do than to commander your vehicle."~

"Why, your Regency, how monarchical of you to respond this way!" [tongue-in-cheek]

Now think for a minute. After an EMP and the world has appeared to cease to function, and you drive to town to "check things out", do you really think the first cop you run into, (whose vehicle is not running and whose radio is not working), is going to hesitate one second from relieving you of your functioning ride so that said LEO can go on to "protect and serve"? You're right, they first have to catch you in your working car, but that car cannot outrun a bullet, and shoot you they might if you were ignoring a lawful order to stop. YMMV.

Now, on your second point, that of the whole "fully engaged with haulage tasks to help your community", implies a rather thorough inclination towards altruism.

Ayn Rand describes Altruism rightly when she declared that it is nothing more than one surrendering a greater value for a lesser one. The very word implies sacrifice. Why are the interests of other men greater than mine? Why should I surrender the fruits of my sagacious planning for the interests of those without foresight? Can the business of drayage be profitable during times of great need? Absolutely, but not when it is coerced on one. I would think that in such a scenario as has been discussed here, the going rate for drayage services would be 3 times the amount of fuel to be consumed for said services and the supplying of a deputized armed guard to ride shotgun, (literately), to prevent the next asshat you run into from thinking they could hijack you as well. Again, not gas, no pass. Altruism be damned. 


In reply to by King of Ruperts Land

mkkby King of Ruperts Land Mon, 05/14/2018 - 23:40 Permalink

Hoax.  In Hawaii there were a few very small outages.  Easily fixed quickly.  Certainly NOT island wide.

Another myth is your household electronics/appliances/car would short out.  No.  It only affects very long power lines that can act as an antenna.  Short lengths of wire/circuits would not be affected.

For all you millenials who scare easily -- don't worry, your iPhone would be fine.

In reply to by King of Ruperts Land

Libertarian777 King of Ruperts Land Tue, 05/15/2018 - 01:28 Permalink

i suggest you read 'one second after' by william forstchen, and do some research into the compton effect.

Why would a 2bit actor with a few nukes choose an EMP strike instead of an all-out nuclear strike?

Couple reasons:

1. Compton effect enhances an EMP (more bang for your buck)

2. Nukes could be hidden in container ships (http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/israel-and-russia-testing-…)

3. a 2bit actor can only afford to build say 2-5 nukes. Using them in a direct attack mode we could easily trace where they're from and am more able to intercept fewer warheads.

4. re-entry technology can be hard. NK was apparently struggling with this. What if it didn't matter? EMPs are detonated before re-entry of the warhead is required.

5. power gone for 'a few weeks'? Look at Puerto Rico. Look at NYC (https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-07-18/when-lights-went-out-new-york-ci…)

6. EMPs are easier to build than hydrogen bombs, are lighter and smaller.

7. an average lightning bolt has 1 gigajoule (1x109 joules). A 100kt nuclear weapon has 4x1014 joules. Or 100 000 x the power of a single lightning bolt.


In reply to by King of Ruperts Land

kellys_eye Libertarian777 Tue, 05/15/2018 - 05:39 Permalink

an average lightning bolt has 1 gigajoule (1x109 joules). A 100kt nuclear weapon has 4x1014 joules. Or 100 000 x the power of a single lightning bolt.

although you aren't quoting like-for-like (the nuclear explosion energy content being more heat than magnetic) yes, but a lightning strike is VERY located - we have them within 'yards' of our property and suffer no ill effects (although I wouldn't like to comment on a direct hit!)

Inverse square law is a brilliant 'equalizer'......

In reply to by Libertarian777

shortonoil King of Ruperts Land Tue, 05/15/2018 - 08:35 Permalink

A Russian EMP test burned down a power plant 500 miles away? How did it do that? Did someone have a bucket of gasoline next to a transformer that blew out? Was the plant built out of paper? This sounds like 9/11. A plane flies into a 100 story building, that was designed to take such an impact 10 times over, and the building falls into its own foot print. Sure. This crap has MIC fear mongering written all over it! An EMP pulse falls off by the square of the distance. At 100 miles it might reset your cell phone. Hogwash. Keep your check book handy, the MIC needs your money a lot more than you do, so make sure you stay terrified! The best sheep are scared sheep, and they will believe anything that they are told; no matter how ridiculous it is!

In reply to by King of Ruperts Land

LetThemEatRand bobcatz Mon, 05/14/2018 - 21:41 Permalink

The EMP threat is the only way for TPTB to convince us that we need to invade any country that has a nuke or two.  "yes you're right, we could wipe them off the planet if they lob a nuke at us, but they could destroy our power grid first so we must invade just in case!"

Fear mongering, neo-con, bullshit.

That said, I still prefer the EMP bullshit to the "guys in caves are going to kill us all so we must occupy the Middle East forever and take in all refugees after we destroy their countries because we are so humanitarian," bullshit.

In reply to by bobcatz

Automatic Choke curbjob Mon, 05/14/2018 - 21:58 Permalink

Speaking as a physicist, i tend to concur with the view that the risk is way over-stated.   Many of the events of widespread damage do indeed rely on scant evidence, and date back to early days of power grid, where protection was unknown.   Nowadays, you can't put wiring in a house without good grounding practice, good breakers, etc.   Every power strip is outfitted with MOVs for transient absorption.  Yes, there would be damage....no, it wouldn't blow out every electronic device in sight.

If your desktop is in a metal case and plugged into a decent power strip, it will likely survive anything other than a direct lightning bolt.


In reply to by curbjob

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 Automatic Choke Mon, 05/14/2018 - 22:11 Permalink

There was an excellent demonstration on the history channel or Nat geo recently (last six months) that showed an EMP directed pulse being used on various autos. The auto drove into the area of a directed EMP pulse and immediately shut down. I didn't take notes at the time. How much more evidence do you people need? The people were unharmed, btw.

Oh look! https://gizmodo.com/5454295/this-emp-cannon-stops-cars-almost-instantly
And here: https://www.policeone.com/police-products/Pursuit-Management-Technology…

And if you want to make your own, look here: https://m.wikihow.com/Build-an-EMP-Generator

In reply to by Automatic Choke

DCFusor Automatic Choke Mon, 05/14/2018 - 23:40 Permalink

AC - have you heard of HERF or HERP weapons?  They're a little hard to search for (esp HERP as you get herpes results from auto-fuckup).  Basically they are high explosive driven, narrowband tuned EMP generators for battlefield use - not the type people are trying to get us scared of that fry substation transformers - the kind you can tune to blow past what amount to the slot antennas in many devices, especially comm and computer stuff.  Just putting that out there.  Most here wouldn't understand the details of a pulsed capacitor initial field with conductors then driven through it via HE and then put into a tuned antenna (gyrotron not required, really)...but such things exist.

There are lots of reasons to use a high altitude nuke instead of low, FWIW - you can still get plenty of destruction from a nominal 5 MT one (lots of fire), but skip most of the fallout as dirt isn't entrained and neutron-irradiated.  The idea being you might manage to limit the exchange.

That's just for those who say go ahead and nuke the city - a high altitude burst is one good way to do just that - with a cherry on top.

That said, I personally don't give a damn.  My hobby fusion reactor has made enough accidental lightning bolts (arcs) to teach me how to harden everything near as is.  Y'all, probably not so much.

In reply to by Automatic Choke

Automatic Choke DCFusor Tue, 05/15/2018 - 03:33 Permalink

Hi DCF, I've heard of some of these, and have no doubt that many others exist.   I've seen some demos of gyrotron based directed energy weapons (I used to do gyrotron antenna design for fusion, actually).  The things that you are talking about, though, are generally used with high gain antennas to take out something specific within a limited range.  I will grant that the effectiveness of a partial Faraday cage (i.e. a simple metal computer case with lots of holes in it), and MOV or TVS transient absorption & decent filtering on input wires will be limited if you are at ground zero of a nuke EMP, or in range of a military directed energy weapon.  That isn't what all the scare articles are talking about, though -- they are talking about the moderately nasty EM transients with a single nuke exploded over a wide area (i.e. positioned to "take out" 25% of the USA).   Worrying about that is pretty silly IMO.

Also, not clear if you are talking about a different thing entirely:   in radar, you need very sensitive receivers, and you have to protect them against the direct VSWR reflections from the antenna on the pulse transmission.  These duplexers are usually only good to block so much power, and can be fried by directing very high energy pulses at a high gain radar receiver.   That sort of stuff works even better if you can time the pulses to hit the receiver when the duplexer is open for the latest reflected pulse.   Killing military radars has a high value in the battlefield, but is not so applicable for wiping out...for example.... all the mp3 players in the state of kansas.


In reply to by DCFusor