Friday, June 11, 2010

NatGeo offers brief video on EMP threat (from high altitude nuclear blast)

MSN Bing gave a link this evening to a NatGeo 4 minute video “Could Electromagnetic Pulse Make U.S. Dark?” The URL is here. There was no embed code.

Dr. Richard Muller explains how EMP works: a high altitude nuclear blast causes no blast effect on the ground but emits gamma rays that set up electric currents in the atmosphere that fry all the electronics on the ground.

But the US Air Force has planes designed to withstand EMP. But civilization would go back to the dark ages.

Conservatives have been concerned that rogue states could give Al Qaeda or a similar group the ability to launch an EMP rocket from the high seas of a US coast. (Theoretically an extraterrestrial alien civilization could use one to cripple us and there would be nothing we could do.) Smaller EMP devices non-nuclear in nature based on microwaves have been built by the military and have limited use even today in Iraq and Afghanistan to disable mines and weapons (the "Hurt Locker" effect). (Example from US Army Ordnance Museum in Aberdeen MD shown below.)

Since National Geographic offers this video, there is some evidence that concern about the EMP problem is moving away fromt he realms of the extreme "Right". 

But the EMP threat is one more reason to rein in on loose nuclear material, as discussed in the previous posting about “The Unit” show.

Wikipedia attribution link for US Army map diagram here.

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