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Old 02-28-2012   #1
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Default MPs warn over nuclear space bombs and solar flares

The government must take more seriously the threat of a nuclear weapon being exploded in space by a rogue state, MPs have warned.

The Defence Select Committee said the resulting radiation pulse could disrupt power and water supplies, UK defence and satellite navigation systems.

Its chairman, Tory MP James Arbuthnot, said an attack was "quite likely".

The committee is urging ministers to invest in more "hardened" technology to cope with such an event.

It looked at the threat to the UK's technological infrastructure from "electromagnetic pulse" (EMP) events in space, which could also include the eruption of solar flares.
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Old 02-28-2012   #2
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That's a 30 year old scare. It was questionable in regard to the USSR and is an idiocy indicator when used in combination with terrorists or Iran etc etc

Jason Sigger battled the scaremongers for a while:

and more, more, more...

Or this

I own an old book from about 1982, compiled by the FAS or some other scientists organisation (didn't see the book in a while). The chapter on EMP from 1982 mentioned that 4 500 kt (or was it 1 Mt?) warheads exploding in a patter over the U.S. at hundreds of kilometres altitude would have a good, but not at all all-frying effect on electronics.
It was a secondary concern when the USSR had thousands of nukes and operational SSBNs. It's a ridiculous concern now.
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Old 02-28-2012   #3
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Generally speaking, if Newt Gingrich is exercised about it, it's not worth worrying about.
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Old 02-28-2012   #4
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Well, the article at the BBC was written by someone with only a little knowledge of nuclear weapons, Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) or Coronal Mass Ejections (CME). It pretty much reduces to "something bad could happen and somebody ought to do something about it." (Which is typical of FAS scaremongering.)

That said ...

Nuclear weapons could be used to generate a High-altitude Electro-Magnetic Pulse (HEMP) that would destroy or degrade a lot of electrical and electronic systems. How much and how widespread depends on the design and installation of the electrical/electronic device/system and the structure of the attack. The kind of damage the good MP is concerned about would take a pretty sophisticated attack. The yields and launch systems required rule out all but the US, Russia, and China. (Possibly the UK and France could be included.) The idea that a rogue state, such as N. Korea or Iran, could do that is ... bizarre.

CME is a serious threat, largely because the standard approaches to protecting electrical systems from everyday events, such as surges and lightening strikes, would be turned into a vulnerability. However, with sufficient warning, which we would have, the damage can be minimized by simply shutting down the power grid for a few to tens of hours. (Look up the Carrington Event, which was a CME striking the Earth.)
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Old 02-28-2012   #5
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Originally Posted by tequila View Post
Generally speaking, if Newt Gingrich is exercised about it, it's not worth worrying about.

I really don't get the EMP crazies.
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