Electromagnetic Pulse: A National Conference

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by N2SIT, Aug 29, 2009.

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  1. N2SIT

    N2SIT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    A National Conference,
    September 8th-10th, 2009,
    Niagara Falls, NY

    -- Featuring former Speaker of the House
    Newt Gingrich, Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, and other EMP experts from the military, industry, and academia --

    A man-made Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) is caused by a nuclear weapon detonated in the atmosphere. This threat is a realistic possibility in this day and age. In fact, two Congressional Commissions have recently warned that America could suffer catastrophic consequences from a nuclear EMP attack by terrorists or rogue states. Their reports also point out that the U.S. can be protected if we act quickly. A House Homeland Security subcommittee is currently meeting and considering legislation, but very little has been done so far. According to the Abstract of the original Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from EMP Attack, U.S. Congress, 2004: “Several potential adversaries have or can acquire the capability to attack the United States with a high-altitude nuclear weapon-generated electromagnetic pulse (EMP). A determined adversary can achieve an EMP attack capability without having a high level of sophistication.” Read the full report

    An EMP attack can cripple our infrastructure causing all of our electronic equipment and infrastructure to fail. That means even basic modes of emergency response, like cars, planes, and other emergency vehicles, may not even start. Current emergency planning is primarily based upon short-term disasters, and is heavily dependent upon assistance from peripheral communities; unfortunately, an EMP could have long-lasting and wide-spread effects that are not adequately addressed by current planning. Moreover, availability of fundamental resources such as our food, water, and medical supplies would almost certainly break down.

    Don’t think it can happen? Increasing nuclear terrorist threats like those of North Korea and Iran can disable the entire power grid in North America are a clear and present danger. Terrorists and rogue nations don’t even need accurate or long range ballistic missiles. An EMP attack can potentially be carried out by launching readily available Scud missiles from a barge off of our coasts.

    EMPACT America is conducting a national conference bringing in the most knowledgeable minds in the world about EMP. Scheduled speakers include U.S. Congressional leaders, Department of Defense experts, and many other experts on EMP. In addition, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich will deliver an exclusive video address on EMP prepared specifically for this conference.

    Our ongoing development and increasing reliance on electronics and technology makes us extremely vulnerable to EMP threats. We invite you to join us at the conference so that we can help you better understand the impact of EMP and how it affects you, and feature some proactive, hands-on ideas to protect our infrastructure from the devastating effects of EMP.

    View our Special Hotel Promotion for Two Free Hotel Nights

    View the Complete Conference Brochure

    Register For the Conference
  2. N2SIT

    N2SIT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

  3. G8ADD

    G8ADD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Is this a real problem, or is it being talked up out of all proportion like the Millenium bug? I mean, it all seems to be based on an orbital nuclear test years ago that put the street lights out on Hawaii. I find it particularly difficult to imagine an EMP putting a car out of action, with all the delicate electronics shielded inside a Faraday cage. Surely if we were that much at risk, we would have more problems in thunderstorms than we do?


    Brian G8ADD
  4. G4LNA

    G4LNA Ham Member QRZ Page

    During the bad old days of the cold war we attended a lecture in the RN and they were discussing the likely outcome of a nuclear strike, the first warhead would probably detonated over the middle of the UK at about 20,000 feet which would effectively disable most sensitive electronic equipment, the next targets would be London, Birmingham and Manchester.

    Even back in the '70s a lot of the important establishments were wired in fibre optic cables to minimise the risk of EMP, so the military are fully aware of the EMP.
  5. W5HTW

    W5HTW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I had a chance to discuss EMP with a scientist involved in classified research for the US government. Though he could not tell me much, he did state that there is a device that is very small, emits an EMP pulse, and can be "tossed under" a car, disabling the engine. This would be handy, if it came to fruition, in stopping high speed (or any speed!) chases. More effect than a spike belt. The device is being tested but is not, as far as I know, ready for marketing.

    Most automotive computers are not shielded, which is why they create so much havoc with ham radio gear. Even if they were, though, (and a very few are) the entry points for wiring are also escape points for noise, which is why we put ferrite filters at those points.

    At Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, there are a diverse variety of experiments with EMP protection. The Trestle is the world's largest all-wood structure, that can old a B52 bomber. It is put together with pegs, not nails, and has no metal in it anywhere. It is used for testing of EMP hardening for aircraft.

    Nearby is the "big magnet." This is a magnet the size of a Greyhound bus. No kidding. It is raised above ground, and an aircraft, usually fighter type, is placed under it. Then the magnet is activated from an underground shelter. In the shelter, even the computers go nuts, but the magnet does its job of testing the aircraft for EMP problems.

    There are many more experiments at Kirtland, and at Sandia Labs, regarding EMP, and quite a few of them are for civilian use. In my own case, for example, a nearby lightning strike will activate my garage door opener. It doesn't destroy the opener, which is solid state, but does create a pulse that the opener sees as a decoded 'operate' signa. It gets past all the front end of the UHF receiver, and gets to the control circuit.

    I'm not overly concerned about North Korea, except that they may could put nuclear weapons into the hands of terrorists. Or they could help Iran or Syria make them faster. North Korea is a barking dog, seeking attention, and it is using its nuclear capability for that purpose. It may have five nuclear warheads, not enough to run a war, and it is well aware the nation would become a melted glass parking lot if it began such a war. They want to bargain, for food, energy, technology (non-nuclear) and more. They are not interested in atomic suicide.

    Dirty weapons, using conventional explosives to spread radioactive waste, are a much more dangerous threat. These create no EMP, though. Given the right weather conditions, a dirty bomb could cover a fairly large area.

    I am concerned about Iran. Iran, under its present 'government' has one stated purpose. To eradicate Israel. It will use whatever means are necessary, and that could easily include nuclear weapons. My guess is, if Iran gets nuclear weapons, it WILL use them on Israel, for they do not fear the consequences. They, too, may be aware the entire nation would be elimianted by Western forces, but they simply don't care. They do not have a goal of survival; the goal is eliminate Israel. At any cost.

    The only nation today likely to actually consider a nuclear attack against the US is China, though Russia is again approaching that point. China has the ICBMS in place, armed with multiple nuclear warheads, and very capable of reaching our west coast, if not further inland. As China grows in economic strength, it is also growing in military might. China's primary goal is to 'recover' Taiwain, which does not want to be recovered. The US has sworn to protect Taiwan's sovreinity, 'not matter what,' and China needs to evaluate our response before it moves on Taiwain. That situation could easily escalate to nuclear, though most analyists seem to think it would remain conventional war. But some do not.

    Even Japan is considering re-arming. And Japan has the knowledge to produce nuclear weapons, but at this point does not have the technology.

    The world is a dangerous place. I have little doubt that if terrorits could smuggle a dirty weapon into the US, they would use it. And how would we retaliate? On what nation?

  6. N9JPS

    N9JPS Ham Member QRZ Page


    E-G8ADD's! Maybe we should bury our heads in the sand and the troubles will go away. I am only saying that you should keep an open mind about this potential catastrophe. Lightning storms are a lot weaker in EMP intensity than a nuclear blast. Beside, there are other things in nature more powerful EMP sources than lightning. Such as solar radiation blasts from the sun. I remember back in 1996, when there was a very large solar storm that hit the earth. Of course, we were protected on the earth by our atmosphere and the earth's magnetic field. But a few communications satellites took it on the nose and got some circuitry fried (I wonder if it came in Krispy or Original recipe?). Also, the lower the blast, the less EMP damage there is. Like FM, it is line-of-sight. (So, a barge on the coast would be limited to the port were the attack occurs.)
    I would not put it past some nut job to commandeer an aircraft from a foreign country, fly the EMP device over Kansas at about 36000 feet and BOOM! There goes the US, back to the 1200's, just like Osama and his ilk want. But luckily, the US arsenal has been using EMP-hardened parts in their electronics for years and still do. They know the effects and know how to handle it. If you like, buy extra replacement electrical components for your car and store them, with some extra ham gear, in a Faraday cage. Or just sit back and enjoy the ride. Ain't society FUN! 73, Bill, N9JPS:eek::rolleyes::D
  7. G4WZT

    G4WZT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I served in the RAF 69-73. I was taught EMP is a real threat during training. Surely the laws of physics haven't changed since then. If they have, "Beam me up Mr Scott". Beam me up anyway, just in case.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2009
  8. N1DVJ

    N1DVJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    While I don't 'officially' know anything (does anybody ever admit that they do?) I thought Soviet doctrine for years was to 'lead off' with high air bursts.

    But while that threat is mostly gone, it's not outside the realm of possibility that a terrorist or rougue state could get a device over the US. Heck, just ship the thing via FedEx or DHL and choose one of the 'inland entry points' as your destination. You could take out a lot of the coastal areas.

    But be that as it may, there are a number of non-nuclear means to generate an EMP. Not as powerful as a nuke, but devices that could easily fit in the van or Ryder truck that could do a lot of mischief when triggered.
  9. N1DVJ

    N1DVJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is a VERY real problem. The question is not is it a real problem, the question is how real is the threat? And that can vary wildly depending on the situation.

    EMP is NOT a thunderstorm with lightning. It's a pulse with a fast rise time with incredible field strength right on top of the target. Forget about your standard lighting protection. Something like the Soviet plan to detonate a nuke (something in the city buster class, multiple megaton) high in the atmosphere might yeild a technologically disabled enemy for 200 miles.

    But think about it. Small EMP generators? Planted at strategic spots? They could do a lot of disruption.

    Sort of like back in the 60's, when the fed got all concerned about phone freaks. Why should they care? Because someone predicted that just a few people in key areas hacking the phone system could effectively tie up the US in a matter or hours. Sure, they could be caught. Or could they... What if there were a few hundred with calculator sized 'blue boxes' that set themselves up in certain cities and hubs, disrupted on schedule for a set amount of time, then moved on, only to get new schedules. Just imagine the havoc they could have done.

    The same situation COULD happen today. No, not exactly, but with a similar result!

    The millenium bug? It was a real problem. Just the idiots who were talking about it didn't know what they were saying. Consider this... I like to keep my checkbook numbers sequential, so when I got to 9999 I went to 10000. Now, consumer checks usually are 4 digits only. No big deal, I got the checks and thought nothing of it. But ever notice that when you USED to get your checks back from the bank, they would imprint additional routing info along the bottom in magnetic ink? And that included the 4 digit check number.

    Now what happens when you get a 5 digit number?

    I was at a discount store and bought a refurb garage opener and a few other things for about $500 or so. And happened to write check number 10000. They took it no problem, then ran it through their little check approval machine. It crashed the system. Brought the whole store to a halt, including the cash registers. (Evidently on one single multi-terminal system). Took almost 20 minutes to get things back and running. Meantime, there's this BIG lady 2 behind me in line with a missing tooth getting beligerent and repeatedly saying "What's the problem up there!" Anyway, they finally got things up and just plain took my check with other id.

    From them to check number 10099 I kept having check problems but no crash. Almost anyplace that ran the one check aproval service would have to be called and the check manually approved. Finally at check 10101 the problem went away. Mostly. Wrote a check at K-Mart for something about $300. Had to get manager approval. The reason? The system insisted the check number was 350 instead of 10350, and store policy was manager approval was required for any starter checks or checks number under 500. (If you get new checks, ALWAYS start the check number at something like 2500!)

    And that was the whole reason for the problem. The five digit check number 1xxxx was always being truncated to just xxxx. When xxxx was 0000 it crashed the one system. When it was 0001 to 0099 it didn't crash, but was reported as an illegal check number.

    The millenium bug was nothing more than a similar problem. It wasn't the BS some places were reporting that prisons would open or the power plant would go down. (Heck, the one local plant is STILL started with an oily rag on a stick!) yes, the problem did cause some paperwork snafus, but that was it. It didn't stop any cars dead on the road at midnight. (Although now with the GM system to disable your car if it's stolen... Never Mind!)
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2009
  10. G8ADD

    G8ADD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Please note that I am asking questions, not making assertions!

    However, in answer to some points ,made by others, a major EMP is generated not by detonating a nuke at 20,000 feet, but by detonating it in the ionosphere leading to a sudden major dump of charged particles resembling a huge geomagnetic storm. EMP weapons on a smaller scale, and yes, I know how they work, are subject to the inverse square law and are a purely local problem.

    So, the question should be recast as follows, ignoring a tactical EMP weapon which due to the inverse square law would create purely localised problems, how big a problem is a strategic EMP weapon. Would a weapon triggering an ionosphere dump and a regional EMP generate a strong enough pulse to really put the kybosh on our technology, or is it exaggerated and the flux density too low to have a generally destructive effect?


    Brian G8ADD
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