How to destroy the USA with just one bomb, that you would never notice going off

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How to destroy the USA with just one bomb, that you would never notice going off

Forget getting attacked with nuclear weapons, one single Electromagnetic Pulse bomb detonated 200 miles above the earth would destroy every electronic device in America.

EMP is not normally addressed when talking about nuclear attack because most strikes are planned as low-air bursts where most of the energy, EMP included, goes straight into the ground (and flattens the target in between). In such scenarios, electrical systems would be disabled by EMP, though few would notice because most people would have been crushed or melted in the firestorm following the detonation.

A deliberate EMP attack, however, would be different. If, for example, an enemy detonated a nuclear weapon carried on a ballistic missile 200 miles or so above Earth, people on the ground might never know an attack occurred. But if the explosion happened high enough over North America, the blossom of EMP might cover the entire United States.

Last year, a congressional commission studied how a high-altitude EMP strike would affect the nation’s infrastructure. The answer was simple: It would be devastating. The entire U.S. electrical grid might be gone and all the instruments of daily life that depend on electrical power useless. Life in the U.S., concluded the 9/11 Commission chair, scientist William Graham, “would be a lot like life in the 1800s,” except with a significantly bigger population.

Just keeping modern-day America fed would be virtually impossible without working transportation or communications systems. Water-pumping and sewage-treatment plants would be offline. Modern medical care would be virtually nonexistent. Even if the rest of the world mustered the largest humanitarian mission in human history, the suffering would be unprecedented.

EMP attacks are often thought off of as attacks against the U.S. infrastructure. But the truth is a large-scale one would be an instrument of genocide.

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By netchicken: posted on 29-7-2009

Daaang. Being all by ourselves over here also means being isolated in any misery we suffer. Funny reversal.
It'd be a much harder job to do this to a specific country over in the east, since everyone is so close together you might end up hitting yourself.
By peregrine: posted on 29-7-2009

That's always a risk(and I'm shocked it has yet to be done to any country), but thankfully a normal citizen can prepare by at least somewhat EMP proofing his or her home. That does mean making alot of Faraday cages though.
By mg.mikael: posted on 30-7-2009

Damnit, Netchicken, why the hell do you have to get me all paranoid? The idea of the U.S. coming under attack like that is frightening.
By dnavarre: posted on 30-7-2009

The article describes it as an act of genocide, as the destruction would be so complete.
So if it did happen, it would be a nuclear war upon the instigators. ... if they know who they are.

Of course as Peregrine noted, that Europe is a sitting duck as well. How long would it take for Russia to get an EMP missile 200 miles above the center of Europe? 10 minutes?
By netchicken: posted on 30-7-2009

Yes, but remember 9/11? Why did that happen? Was there a reason? Did the people care that they died?
By dnavarre: posted on 31-7-2009

Nope, they're just terrorists. That's why I've always been for setting up an international police supported by every country in the U.N. =D
By peregrine: posted on 31-7-2009

A U.S. Congressman warns that the grid can be taken down by an electromagnetic weapon.

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (Rep.-Md.) issued that warning recently. He's not your typical "the-sky-is-falling" Congressman --- he's a former research scientist and engineer and has previously has worked on projects for NASA and the military. Bartlett issued his warning yesterday at a House Science subcommittee hearing about how to roll out the Smart Grid.

At the hearing, he warned that a weapon that fired an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) could wipe out significant sections of the Smart Grid. According to a Science News account of the hearings:
... Quote:
EMP is a powerful and potentially devastating form of electromagnetic "fallout." It's usually associated with nuclear weapons, although it can be triggered by any major explosive bursts.

Unlike radioactive fallout, this rain won't directly harm living things. It will just catastrophically fry all electronics and modern electrical systems by inducing staggeringly large and rapid current or voltage surges.
The magazine goes on to report that Bartlett warns small nations could use the weapon against the Smart Grid, when it is developed:
... Quote:
All one needs to wreak some serious EMP damage, he charges, is a sea-worthy steamer, $100,000 to buy a scud-missile launcher, and a crude nuclear weapon. Then fling the device high into the air and detonate its warhead.

Such a system might not paralyze the entire United States, he concedes. "But you could shut down all of New England. And if you missed by 100 miles, it's as good as a bulls eye.
At the hearing, various people testified about how the grid might be hardened against attack, by protecting key components of it. Bartlett, though, isn't convinced that we're doing enough and wants EMP protection built directly into it.

More on this topic....
By netchicken: posted on 2-8-2009

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