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Thread: National Geographic Explorer: Electronic Armageddon

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    GuncoHolic Black Blade's Avatar
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    Default National Geographic Explorer: Electronic Armageddon

    I don't get National Geographic but this may be interesting.

    Explorer | Video | | National Geographic Channel

    Teaser: Explore what could happen when a high altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP) occurs and cripples our electrical grid.

    Airs June 15 at 11 pm est, June 19 at 5 pm est and June 22 at 4 pm est.
    When you're born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America , you get a front row seat. - George Carlin


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    Much of the Northeast blacked out for a while in 1977:

    New York City blackout of 1977 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    And again in 2003:

    Northeast Blackout of 2003 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    We lost power for a week in an ice storm in '01. Texarkana lost it for over 10 days.

    Your house goes dark, of course. If you have a land line, it usually stays on; the telcos have their own backup power. Hospitals and nursing homes usually have generators. Police stations generally don't. After the tornados of '07 Mountain Home, Arkansas was dark except for Wal-Mart.

    Locally, the refrigerator-sized traffic light control boxes don't appear to have any batteries in them; when the power goes off, we lose traffic signals. You can't buy gas anywhere; every gas station has electric pumps. You can't buy gas most places if the phones go down, since everyone is connected to the mothership somewhere else. Cell towers usually have generators, but in some urban areas they might not, due to the crazoids who hate the antennas and manage to get installations restricted in various ways.

    After a week or so you'll lose water. The water towers hold 3 to 10 days worth, most places... but without the pumps to refill them, when it's gone, it's gone.

    Some places, the sewer system depends on electric pumps to stairstep the flow up changes in grade. If your house is downhill from the local sewer main, you probably have a pump in the house or out in the yard. And around here, if you have a fairly recent septic system, code requires a macerator pump before the settling tank.

    Most newer gas water heaters use electric ignition instead of a pilot light. They're not designed to be lit with a match, either.

    I've seen new gas meters with digital displays on them. I don't know anything about them (or where they get their power from!), but you might be concerned about interruption in your gas supply if the power goes out in the winter.


    Basically, if your power goes out, fill whatever you have with drinking water if you don't have any stocked up already. And be aware the toilet may quit working after a while. Other than that, you're on your own...

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    Happy Camper hcpookie's Avatar
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    Alarmist hype. They talk about "worst case scenario" and explore that. As in GIANT NUKULAR KABLOOIE scenario.

    I read up on EMP years ago. There is a plethora of practical information on EMP damage and what can be done about it around the Internets (thank you Al Gore) Civillian Defense resources are a good starting point.

    They make it sound like arcs of electricity is going to be dancing off of the power lines and onto my laptop and back to the house. EMP damage doesn't happen that way however. Power grid outages due to a nuke-generated EMP pulse would be temporary at best and would not even affect certain things such as diesel engines (ever wonder why the military uses diesel so much). Generators should also be OK. Hospital equipment may be OK, depends on the shielding. Standard gasoline vehicles would most likely stall, probably even old point-driven engines. Computers that are turned off won't have any problems and those that are on may have some problems, however the typical computer is shielded and you have varying degrees of shielding on cables, etc. At most you may experience data loss, but it wouldn't explode in an arc of brilliant light. An EMP that can fry a computer would have to be HUGE and the computer would have to be relatively close to it or unshielded.

    Heck there have been issues with welders being too close to computers (welding on HVAC equipment on one side of a wall with the computer on the other side) and the EM field generated affected the system but only until it was shut off. No long-term data corruption.

    I think the biggest thing in today's world that would be affected would have to be wireless communications. An EMP would be close in effect to a lightning storm or possibly a solar flare. Cellular would obviously be affected, and the microwave comm relay towers. Other than that land lines etc. should still work OK. The duration of an EMP would vary but I believe around 30-90 minutes for an "average" city-sized nuke is expected. EMP is essentially a static electric field and dissipates over time just like static on a rug. The NUKULAR KABLOOIE this show explores would be bigger and would last longer but not more than a few hours.

    Satellites are also be shielded against cosmic rays, etc. and would only feel the effects of an EMP during the residual, but would start working normally after the EM field dissipates.

    If a nuke pops over MY city, I would be more concerned about the heat, blast, and nukular fallout than the EMP. Hell even my rad detector runs on batteries!

    Sounds like NG is exploring entertaining "this is how the world could end" scenarios. Could be a fun show to watch!
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    BANNED nalioth's Avatar
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    Fearmongering is the name of the game nowadays, sad to say.

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    GuncoHolic Black Blade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nalioth View Post
    Fearmongering is the name of the game nowadays, sad to say.
    And if you are wrong?
    When you're born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America , you get a front row seat. - George Carlin


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    Happy Camper hcpookie's Avatar
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    Correcting myself - apparently only electronic ignition is affected:

    Office of Radiation Protection - Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)Fact Sheet - Washington State Department of Health



    From here:
    Electromagnetic Pulse-From Chaos To A Manageable Solution

    Although the EMP effect was known to exist during the
    detonationtion of conventional explosives prior to the first atomic
    explosion and was predicted in nuclear weapons' tests, the extent and
    potentially serious nature of EMP were not realized for several
    years. Several incidents related to the 1963 detonation of a 1.4
    megaton nuclear device 250 miles above Johnston Island highlighted
    the potential effects of EMP. Immediately following the detonation,
    the island of Oahu, Hawaii, which was located 800 miles from ground
    zero, experienced several power outages, the activation of hundreds
    of burglar alarms and the short-circuiting of thirty strings of
    streetlights (1).
    Good links here (not necessarily good info):

    ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE RISKS AND TERRORISM


    Good info on how to reduce EMP and how it would really take a huge KABLOOIE to fry (not just affect) electronics:

    AusSurvivalist - EMP Protection

    More goodness:

    Electromagnetic Pulse Protection - EMP - Futurescience.com
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    THE 9mm ADDICT MUSIBIKE's Avatar
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    An EMP attack is the most probable one. If they start up in the Middle East, they will surely want to put the US mainland on ICE. But now, in the Summer time is not good timing!
    M U S I B I K E

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    Gunco Veteran nkluksda's Avatar
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    EMP shielding isn't trivial, and modern electronics are far more vulnerable than most people realize. It doesn't take much induced voltage to punch through gate oxide, which renders an integrated circuit pretty useless. With modern chip densities, it only takes a few volts to punch through the oxide (which is only a few nanometers thick). EM is tough because it has a coupled electric and magnetic fields. Shielding the electric field is trivial, but not the magnetic field. Even if powered off, an EMP burst can cause inductive currents, which can then ruin the electronics.

    In a good EMP burst, figure that every car with an engine computer will become useless. Power grids, with their electronic controls, could collapse (but given the field strength that the thyristors have to put up with to switch the mains, that's not a given); more likely, the control circuitry would fail. Most modern appliances with embedded computers could be affected.

    Several folks have been, for years, advocating that the US government take the issue of national security seriously, and actively rebuild civil defense, including taking steps to harden our power and communication infrastructures against EMP type attacks. Of course, the liberals that hate the US think we should be vulnerable to blackmail by any two-bit moon-worshiping head-banging fanatic regime that happens to get a bomb. Or makes a conventional EMP weapon which doesn't need an A-bomb.
    Q - What is Bambi?

    A - Viable Target

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    THE 9mm ADDICT MUSIBIKE's Avatar
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    EMP will be the cheapest and most effective completely disabling thing they could use.

    Well, almost the cheapest. Purifying enough uranium for a 5 megaton one shot and igniting it correctly will cost a good penny.
    M U S I B I K E

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    Cranky Curmudgeon zoom6zoom's Avatar
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    Nah, all the czars in DC are already disabling and destroying our infrastructure.

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