What is an EMP?
- An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is a high-intensity burst of electromagnetic energy caused by the rapid acceleration of charged particles.
- An EMP can also be defined as an intense pulse of electromagnetic radiation, especially one generated by a nuclear explosion and occurring (detonating) high above the earth's surface.
- An EMP attack is said to have the potential to decimate (destroy) America’s electrical and technological infrastructure to the point of effectively sending the U.S. back to the 19th century in terms of societal advancements.
- This is because the society’s vulnerability to an EMP attack increases as the society grows more and more reliant on electronic devices.
- An electromagnetic pulse is considered a weapon of mass destruction.
- An EMP can span a continent-sized area, and can affect systems on air, land and in water.
- An EMP lasts for only 1 nanosecond.
- An EMP radiates at 50 km/v, which is at the speed of light.
- At such a high altitude, an EMP could happen in a blink of an eye; therefore. and EMP may not necessarily be immediately associated with any type of explosion or blast.
All About EMP's
- Scientists discovered that nuclear explosions, heat, and gamma radiation can produce a strong electromagnetic pulse that has the capacity of passing thousands of volts of electrical energy to almost anything that conducts electricity.
- An electromagnetic pulse can be generated by the interaction of gamma rays, released by a nuclear explosion, with the atmosphere and the Earth.
- The resulting pulse, which is also known as the “Common Effect”, sends out huge currents, similar to how a radio signal sends out currents to metallic objects that act like a receiving antenna. However, in the case of an EMP, the resulting pulse sends out currents much larger than those emitted by radio signals, causing a large variety of objects (i.e. antennas, pipelines, underground gas and water pipes, metal fences, iron railroad tracks, power lines, telephone wires, electric cables) to act like antennas and receive the huge currents.
- The reception of this huge current produced by the resulting pulse has the potential of starting fires, igniting explosions, and frying all forms of circuity beyond repair.
- Electromagnetic pulses cannot directly harm us humans or other living organisms because our bodies and other living bodies do not conduct this current.
- Transistors are the most vulnerable to this high current of an EMP.
- Transistors are the small devices found inside electronic devices and components, such as computer chips, radios, cell phones, ATM machines, automotive ignition systems, gas pumps, calculators, lights, clocks, and other important accessories and machines used in our daily lives.
- If an EMP attack were to occur, all of the devices that use transistors would be rendered useless, repairing them would not be a possible option.
- Everything that relies on modern electrical technology will be useless.
- An electromagnetic pulse contains enough energy to destroy anything and everything that is electronic.
- An EMP has the capability to burn out all electronic devices and cause them to be irreparable.
- All of the transistors in electronic devices will have to be thrown out, and new ones will have to be made with new wiring installed.
How does an EMP "melt" the circuits and transistors in electronic devices?
The sudden pulse of current in an EMP overwhelms the device and literally melts the circuitry, thus rendering it useless. In the case of computers, cell phones and other such devices where everything is designed for small amounts of electromagnetic energy, a sudden surge measuring in the tens of thousands of volts and amperes is enough to melt the entire device and even start fires that will bring down the rest of the infrastructure that is non-electrical.
How Nuclear EMP-Weapons Work
- The weapon itself does not cause the EMP. The pulse is generated by the weapon's effect on the Earth's ionosphere.
- EMP's are generated by suddenly moving a high-intense charge of energy. A nuclear weapon on its own does not have these extra charges to move around, but rather the Earth's ionosphere does.
- Between 40 and 300 miles above our heads, there is a layer of charged particles called the ionosphere. The ionosphere is created by radiation from space (mostly the Sun), moving electrons free of their host atoms.
- A nuclear EMP-weapon basically releases enough heat (in the form of an explosion) that results in the upward shift of the particles in the ionosphere. That moving charge is what causes the bulk of the EMP.
- A nuclear EMP-weapon also ionizes the surrounding air, and then moves that, thus creating a high-intense charge of electromagnetic radiation.
- A nuclear EMP-weapon is actually an electromagnetic multi-pulse. An EMP is usually composed of 3 components: E1, E2. E3.
- The E1 pulse is a high, very fast pulse that can induce very high voltages in equipment and along electrical wiring and cables.
- This is the component of the EMP that destroys computers and communications equipment.
- This component is what causes the gamma rays of a nuclear detonation to hit the upper atmosphere, knocking out electrons in the atoms of the upper atmosphere, creating the intense pulse of electromagnetic radiation.
- The E2 pulse is the easiest to protect against out of the 3 pulses. It has similarities in strength and timing to electrical pulses produced by lightning.
- The E3 pulse is very different from the E1 and E2 pulses of an EMP.
- The E3 pulse is a very slow pulse that lasts tens to hundreds to seconds, and is caused by the nuclear detonation, heaving Earth’s magnetic field out of the way, followed by the restoration of the magnetic field to its natural place.
- The E3 component has similarities to a geomagnetic storm caused by a severe solar storm.
- The low frequencies of the E3 component make shielding and isolation from an EMP attack difficult.
- A nuclear EMP-weapon is actually an electromagnetic multi-pulse. An EMP is usually composed of 3 components: E1, E2. E3.
EMP Bomb Attacks
- EMP bomb attacks are basically nuclear detonations that occur high in the atmosphere. If the U.S. were to experience an EMP bomb attack, the effects have the potential of spreading throughout all of North America.
- EMP weapons are attractive not just to foreign militaries, but also to terrorist and criminal organizations.
There are two types of EMP bombs: nuclear EMP and non-nuclear EMP
- The non-nuclear EMP bombs have become the fastest growing risk in the world of EMP. These non-nuclear devices are becoming more powerful and easier to construct.
- Non-nuclear EMP bombs (also known as E-bombs) shoot out an energy pulse similar to a nuclear EMP; however E-bombs create local damage, whereas nuclear EMP bombs create regional or national damage.
- Non-nuclear EMP bombs are commonly used by terrorists and other organizations to damage electronics at a distance of a hundred feet to a quarter mile.
- Nuclear EMP bombs cannot be turned on or off, but non-nuclear EMP bombs can be turned on and off at will, and they are not destroyed by single use. This means that E-bombs can be used over and over again, and they are much easier to build and use compared to nuclear EMP bombs.
- E-bombs do not need an explosion to take effect, unlike nuclear EMP bombs.
- Example of Usage of E-bomb: A terrorist may use an E-bomb, and place it within their car and drive around populated cities. The terrorist could drive around the city, turning on the device when near sensitive targets, and the closer a vehicle is to the E-bomb, the stronger the damage. Turning on this device in a major city could cause:
- traffic signals to crash at major intersections and to not be able to reboot
- phone systems and elevators in high-rise buildings to stop working
- people may be trapped in high-rise buildings (due to the elevators not working) and emergency services may not be able to reach them due to the traffic jam
- in offices, computers and other electronics will freeze up or burn out
- security cameras on streets will shut down
- traffic jams will be created
- businesses will not be able to recover valuable data and equipment
- The type of E-bomb that can be turned on and off is called a Vircator.
- Scientists all over the world are researching and developing plans to use Vircators.
- The U.S. Air Force is currently working to create a cruise missile that can fly down a road or over a city and destroy electronics in a targeted path.
Discovery of EMP
- The discovery of EMPs was made by accident, during the early days of atomic testing on Christmas Island an Eniwetok. This discovery was made when H-bombs were detonated and put out street lights several hundred miles away in Hawaii and affected radio stations in Australia in the early 1050s.
- EMPs can also come from the sun during a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) event.
- This was discovered in 1968 when there was a massive power failure in the north east of the U.S. and Canada and a ruptured pipeline in the north west that was ultimately linked to the sun during the sunspot maximum of that year.
- At the time, most people were not even aware of CME events Currently, with a world dependent on communications technology, CMEs are taken very seriously. A lot of information and new knowledge has been obtained from CME events. For example, it was thought that such occurrences could only be caused by H-bombs, but by understanding the Compton Effect (which was first described in 1920 and caused almost instantaneous burst of intense electromagnetic radiation), knowledge on how to deal with conventional explosives and surges generated by electrical equipment was learned.
- Now, scientists know how to create EMPs using conventional explosives, or high powered electrical discharges in a powerful electrical surge over a period of nanoseconds.
Wave-Guided Electromagnetic Pulse Beams
- Now, we know of EMP's being huge explosions in which the electromagnetic radiation extends throughout the atmosphere over a region; however, electromagnetic pulses do not necessarily have to occur in the form of explosions. Electromagnetic pulses can be targeted towards specific objects and can functions as beams as well. This form of EMP is called wave-guided electromagnetic pulse beams.
- There are two types of EMP delivery: (1) point source and (2) focused beam.
- A point source EMP detonation is not focused, but rather the energy dissipates (disperses) by the distance-intensity inverse square function, which states that the farther away you are from a point source, the more likely your electronic equipment may survive (depending on whether not the electromagnetic pulse extends to your area). Examples of point source of EMP detonation include the common EMP bombs, in which the electromagnetic radiation is not focused to a specific target, but rather extends over an entire region.
- The other type of EMP delivery, the focused beam, is slightly different:
- Scientists have learned how to concentrate the energy burst of an EMP in a high concentrated and directional manner, allowing this energy to be pinpointed to a specific target, instead of emitting to everything. In other words, the emission of an electromagnetic pulse can be concentrated and targeted like a laser beam.
- Similarly to how electromagnetic radiation can be focused in a laser, an electromagnetic pulse can be focused in a narrow and coherent beam against small targets, such as incoming missile and jet assaults. This can be done by using a parabolic reflector (a mirror/ dish that has a reflective surface that projects energy), so that nothing outside of the direct path of the beam is harmed. Specific targets can be selected, while the rest is left unharmed.
- Since the beam is “coherent” (having a constant phase relationship) rather than spread out, there are little in the way of transmission losses. A beam of this type is as effective when it is a thousand miles away or when it is within eyesight.
Sources of Electromagnetic Pulse
- There are at least 3 sources of electromagnetic pulse & 2 of them are man-made. They are:
- Super-sized Solar Storms (Natural Source)
- Atomic Weapons (Artificial Source)
- EMP Generators
- EMP generators can produce pulses of electromagnetic energy that can destroy the sensitive electronics in computers, microprocessors, and electronic controls.
- Destabilized EMP circuits can produce multi-megawatt pulses by using an explosive wire disruptive switch. These high power pulses are connected to antennas, conic sections, horns, and parabolic reflectors for very directional effects.
- The usage of antennas suggests that EMP can be tuned to specific frequencies for specific targets, while leaving unharmed anything that is off frequency and non-resonant.
- Research is currently being done to disable vehicles at a distance with the police or military by using beamed EMP devices, thus eliminating the need for high speed chases, but in order to do this, a high enough power pulse must be generated to fry the electronic control processors and to effectively render the rest of the vehicle immobile. This would be a lot easier if the vehicle were covered in plastic or fiberglass rather than metal. However, since newer vehicles are being made of composite materials, they are more susceptible than older cars that use sheet steel/ aluminum. This new shielding absorbs such pulses and deflects them from the sensitive electronics inside.
Natural Causes of EMPs
- Solar storms associated with increasing sunspot activity result in the emission of a huge cloud of charged particles from the surface of the sun. When these clouds strike the earth's magnetic field, an electric current is created, which can be extremely destructive, if large enough.
- On average, the sun produces extremely violent solar storms about once every 500 years. The effects of such a storm would be enough wipe out the entire modern-day electrical grid. The last of these solar storms occurred in 1859, when there was no electrical grid in existence. However, there were reports of previously installed telegraph systems having extensive malfunctions and disruptions in services. Solar scientists report that had this storm taken place presently, the result would be the breakdown of partial, if not the total power grid.
- The difference between EMPs produced by the sun and those created by nuclear weapons is that nuclear explosions cause three types of electromagnetic pulses while the sun only produces one.