What is an Electromagnetic Pulse Bomb?
Potential to destroy all electronic devices in a wide radius
Electromagnetic pulse bomb technology has been showcased in video games, movies, and TV shows. For example, in the series Jericho, a missile exploding in the sky (after the main attack) rendered all non-shielded devices useless by destroying their internal components. In real life, a similar attack could compromise most consumer electronics and power grids, and it could be done with atomic or conventional explosives. Electromagnetic pulse events have shorted out power systems in Hawaii in the 1950s due to testing in the atmosphere. These effects were more minimal, however, because of the distance from the explosion and the nature of electronics at that time. More modern microchip-devices are less likely to survive an EMP pulse because of the delicate nature of silicon technology. For years, the military has been aware of this threat, so as a result critical hardware and command and control systems have been shielded with special metallic configurations (known as Faraday cages) which are made to divert the pulse from sensitive systems. In fact, nuclear bunker systems even had egg-shaped interiors, surrounded by metal, in order to keep a pulse from damaging systems necessary to launch a counterattack.
In fiction, the EMP pulse has been used in everything from the Matrix to Crysis and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The new video game Homefront imagines a North Korean takeover of the US by way of an Electromagnetic Pulse emerging from a satellite. In the video game Halo, players can create an EMP with a weapon. In popular culture, the threat of an electromagnetic pulse bomb may increase as more nations are looking to develop this technology which could cause serious economic damage and destabilization. Because electronics in cars, phones, homes, and even pacemakers could be destroyed, and it would take years to repair and replace these items, along with an entire power grid, the potential for damage to a society is high, and people may want to take precautions, including the use of shielding for sensitive items. Aside from keeping everything in a double-hulled quonset hut, most people are very exposed to EMP bombs if someone should choose to use one.
Notes and Special Information
Special note: This site will not tell you how to build or use any explosive or dangerous device. Popular Mechanics will do that for you. And if someone could really make that work, they probably would have done it. And then, consider that the military has shielded its stuff, so retalition would be swift, and not limited to magnetism.