When it comes to the biggest threats to humanity, there are few things more terrifying than a nuclear bomb. They have only been used once in the history of warfare, giving us a terrifying glimpse at what they are capable of.
But since then nuclear weapons have become even more powerful, and their threat to humanity is more serious than ever. The most obvious threat from a nuclear weapon is the terrifying destructive power, but the EMP, also known as an electromagnetic pulse, released during a nuclear explosion can be just as destructive.
In this article, we’ll go over nuclear weapons, EMPs, and how you can protect yourself and your lifesaving electronic equipment from a nuclear threat.
Nuclear Weapons: The Basics
To understand how to protect yourself and your equipment from a nuclear threat, you have to understand how nuclear weapons work.
Fission and Fusion Bombs
There are two kinds of nuclear bombs: fission bombs and fusion bombs. While both are extremely destructive and dangerous, each has its own operation and destructive yield.
Fission bombs, also known as atomic bombs, work by utilizing radioactive elements like plutonium and uranium. When a piece of fissile material reaches critical mass, it begins releasing neutrons. These neutrons smash into atoms, which causes them to split.
This releases binding energy and heat. When these atoms are split, they release other neutrons, which split other atoms. This creates a chain reaction, which happens almost instantly, and causes an explosion.
Fusion bombs are much more powerful than fission bombs. Also known as hydrogen bombs, these bombs use fusion to create devastating explosions. Essentially, the fusion bomb uses a fission explosion to create enough heat to start a fusion reaction.
When the isotopes of hydrogen inside the bomb fuse together, they form heavier atoms of helium, releasing a tremendous amount of energy. These fusion bombs can release up to 1,000 times more energy than a fission bomb. That means a much larger EMP and more resulting damage.
EMPs and How They Affect Electronics
When a nuclear weapon is detonated, it releases an EMP (electromagnetic pulse). An EMP is a burst of electromagnetic radiation caused by the interaction of electrons with the magnetic field of the earth.
An EMP can be created by both a nuclear device and the sun. However, nuclear EMPs are much more intense and shorter-lived than solar EMPs.
When an EMP is released in the atmosphere, it interacts with conductive materials like metal. The metal inside electronic devices catches this electromagnetic radiation. The metal transmits it to the circuits and wires inside the device in the form of an electrical current.
This electric current is very powerful. It can easily overwhelm the surge protectors in electronic devices. This can disrupt the operation of the electronic device and can even destroy the circuits inside of it.
An EMP would affect nearly all of our electronic devices. Computers, phones, radios, car batteries, and power transformers will all be affected and may be disabled completely.
Factors That Affect EMP Strength
When it comes to the strength and reach of a nuclear EMP, there are two main factors that determine how strong it is: the altitude of the device when it is detonated, and the explosive yield of the weapon.
If a nuclear device is detonated at ground level, the EMP will still occur, but won’t reach nearly as far. In these types of attacks, the main threat will be the physical damage caused by the explosion and the nuclear fallout.
However, if a nuclear device is detonated at high altitude, the EMP can cause damage over a very wide area. While the physical damage from this type of explosion would be minimal, the EMP could potentially cover an area the size of the continental United States.
The explosive yield of the weapon will also have an effect on the strength of an EMP. High explosive yields will cause greater disruption of the electrons in the atmosphere. A large explosion will also further displace the Earth’s magnetic field, amplifying the effect of the EMP.
This makes fusion bombs a much greater threat when it comes to large EMPs. However, even a small nuclear detonation at a high altitude will cause a devasting, far-reaching EMP.
Protecting Yourself Against Nuclear Explosions and EMPs
When it comes to protecting yourself from a nuclear explosion, you’ll want to protect yourself from the blast and the nuclear fallout immediately.
Getting yourself into the deepest part of a large structure, like the basement of a skyscraper or a room at the center of a concrete building, is the best way to protect yourself from the blast and the radiation. You’ll want to keep a close eye on communication devices like radios and phones to get additional information about emergency services and your next move.
However, buildings and solid objects won’t protect your electronic equipment from the EMP. To protect against an EMP, you’ll need a Faraday Shield.
A Faraday Shield is a protective barrier that shields your electronics from an EMP. A Faraday Shield is an enclosed space made out of conductive material, usually a form of metal. This conductive material absorbs the energy from the EMP, directing it around and away from the inside of the shield.
Many people use Faraday Cages to protect communications equipment like radios. These cages are usually made out of many layers of chain-link fence or thin metal, which can absorb the energy from the EMP.
However, you won’t need some large piece of metal or a chain-link cage. You can buy a Faraday Bag, which has a conductive lining that protects your gear. These bags are lightweight and portable, which ensures that your equipment is protected no matter where you are.
In the event of an EMP, these electronic devices can save your life by allowing you to communicate and gain other information. Making sure your electronic gear is protected is one of the best ways to increase your chances of survival.
Protect Yourself From Any Nuclear Threat
Now that you know a little more about the nuclear threat, you can use this information to prepare for the worst-case scenario and protect yourself.
If you have any more questions about nuclear threats, EMPs, or Faraday Shields, please visit our blog.