Tuesday, October 06, 2009
"Space Wars" on "The Universe" of History Channel: EMP was the biggest "practical" issue in the documentary
“Space Wars”, of the History Channel “The Universe” series, aired on Oct. 6, 2009, link here.
Probably the most alarming portion of the show concerned the EMP (electromagnetic pulse effect), powerful “lightning-like” currents shot to earth by nuclear explosions. The higher the explosion, the wider the area affected. In 1962, a nuclear hydrogen bomb test disabled electronics from New Zealand to Hawaii, which resulted in the US and Soviets stopping high altitude nuclear tests (although enforcing the ban was tricky, as I would learn when I worked for the Navy Department as a programmer in summers and then permanently in ensuing years).
The rest of the show was closer to the “StarWars” scenarios. There were, however, many exotic ideas proposed. One is gattling rods fired from the stratosphere as the ultimate bunker busters.
Some scenarios, with e-pulses from above, were less melodramatic, but could disrupt GPS timing signals, meaning the electronic funds transfers don’t work.
Space battles with human combatants would be limited by the acceleration that humans can take, about 10G. “Ray guns” however would require fusion-sized reactors packed into a handgun-sized devices.
The show speculates that aliens could build a base on Mars, but we could sling an asteroid at them. Or perhaps aliens could detonate a high-altitude EMP blast before settling on the Earth (this happens in ne of my screenplays, but before hand some earth people are abducted and taken to the aliens’ static, dying world where people live in time slices, in structured moneyless societies, in a narrow ring on a small planet always facing its sun, which is threatened by an approaching brown dwarf.)
The show concludes with a brief discussion of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, and speculation as to how countries would behave once we colonize the Moon and other planets like Mars.
Also, take a look at MSNBC's slide show :"8 space crashes and smashes: NASA’s LCROSS probe won’t be the only spacecraft to meet its demise", link here.