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What would happen after an EMP attack?

By on June 27, 2009 12:29:52 AM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Draginol

Join Date 03/2001
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After reading the book One Second After we had an interesting discussion over on JoeUser about the subject.

One user said that humans had adapted and were far too enlightened today to revert to violence and mayhem in the absence of our modern conveniences.

So let’s walk through the EMP scenario:

Day 1: July Year 200x

5 container ships in the gulf of Mexico fire medium range SCUD missiles high into the atmosphere until it reaches far above Kansas and other states.  On board are 45KT nuclear warhead.  It explodes creating EMP that takes out all of the integrated circuits in the United States.

That means anything electronic that hasn’t been hardened is going to be ruined.  That means your computers, TVs, cars, home electronics, breaker box, phones, radios, cell phones. It also means the power companies, their generators, the backup generators at hospitals, nursing homes, etc.

All of the farms and their harvesting equipment is dead. The trucks that move food to the cities are ruined. The trains that move freight around the country are inoperable.

Every airplane flying crashes. All planes on the down are ruined.

The only thing working are US conventional forces that happened to be hardened against EMP (which means quite a few of them).  Some cars stored in underground parking garages would probably work depending on the proximity. 

There’s no fall out. Nobody dies from the attack directly.

Day 2:

With power out people’s fridges are DOA.  With no working cars, people don’t go to work. In the country and in the suburbs, people take the food out of their refrigerators and freezers before it “goes bad” and have BBQs. It’s a fun time.

People who were driving somewhere are mostly able to make it to town. A few people die of heat stroke on their journeys. In the deep south, particularly Florida, there are a number of deaths due to the heat since air conditioning is out.

In the cities, looting begins quite quickly. The police can’t do much since they’re on foot or on horse.

We know this sort of thing because we have seen what happens during extended power outages. Of course, in those cases cars, cell phones, and other crucial devices still worked but there was still massive looting in the large cities.

Day 3:

Local agencies really don’t know what’s going on since there is no communication. No cell phones. No radio. No land lines. The grid is gone.  There are spare parts but no where near enough to fix it all and because of the nature of the electrical grid, all the holes have to be plugged for the juice to flow again.  And even if they had enough parts, how do they transport them? No trucks. No cars. 

International relief from Japan, China, Canada (though most of Canada is taken out too), Mexico, Europe begins but it’ll be slow going. Food shipments can reach the coast in a couple of days but getting it inland will be a major problem as the vehicles will have to be transported in along with parts to try to get the railroads working again (along with teams to get dead trains off the rails).

In the subs, the party is over. It ain’t funny now.  People are finishing off what was in their refrigerator. Most people still have some food in the cupboard.

Stores start rationing their supplies. People are still using money (at least, those who keep cash). A bottle of water is $20.  How much cash do you keep in your house?

In the cities, riots have broken out with widespread destruction. Being July, it’s hot and dry. Fires from the riots start to spread.

End of Week 1:

By now, most people in the subs have run out of food they would normally remotely consider eating. Looting at the local Walmart and grocery stores begins as people simply take what they need.

Remember, people aren’t hearing anything from the authorities. There are no working TVs. No working radios. The handful of police are walking in the subs. 

If you live in the suburbs, take a close look around. How would the police reasonably patrol your city without cars?

Meanwhile, people in nursing homes have started dying enmasse. Without refrigeration drugs quickly go bad. Anyone requiring help breathing or anything else has already died.

People with type 1 diabetes are starting to see the writing on the wall.

Meanwhile, the first container ships of relief have reached San Francisco, Seattle, LA, San Diego, Houston, Miami, Boston, NY, Washington, Raleigh. Lots of food, medicine, some parts, lots of vehicles.

Unfortunately most of those cities are in utter pandemonium. In the south, tens of thousands have already died from heat.  In 2003, when there was a heat wave in France, 14800 people died. They didn’t lose power, they just didn’t have air conditioning.  In Florida, the death toll is skyrocketing quickly. Same in most of the other southern states.

End of Week 2:

People are starting to die of dysentery from eating bad food, drinking bad water. Many have left the suburbs to head to rural areas where they think there is food (they’re wrong, harvest won’t happen for months, industrialized food processing involves a lot of transportation between the farms and the slaughter houses).

The typical American family, now out of food and with no access to clean water is starting to get pretty desperate.

What? Only 2 weeks? How much food do you have in your house right now? Go check. I’ll wait….

Okay back? So how much is in your pantry? How long would it last you? If you knew at the start, you might have rationed it better. But you didn’t. 

Millions of Americans are wishing they had put those steaks and hamburgers and hotdogs in their basements in the cooler temperatures. Others are wishing they had salted them heavily and cooked them well done to store for the long haul.

In the cities on the coast, power is restored via backup generators relatively close to shore. However, within 10 miles from the harbor, death is everywhere.  Don’t agree?

Ever been to San Francisco? LA? New York City? 14 days have passed. Where would you have gone? The smart ones, who are able to, would have found their way to the harbors and waited for air lifts of food and such. But most would probably not think about that.

Meanwhile, armed thugs are starting to systematically go through every building and house looking and taking what they need.

End of Week 3

Starvation is starting to become a real problem. If your local law enforcement had a clue, they had already gotten themselves and helpful citizens around to the stores to gather up supplies to start rationing it.

At this point, martial law has been declared by any competent city government.  Some cities decide that, for the public good of course, that all community food will be collected and distributed equally to everyone. In other places, large armed mobs are violently taking what is needed to survive.

Are you a survivalist? Got all your supplies right? Got MREs in the basement. You have an AK47 that you managed to get quietly at a gun show. Your kids know how to use the two shot guns. You’ve been prepared for this day right?  Great. You’re about to die.

You see, you might be able to keep a few people away. But word got around that you have supplies because you’re that guy who everyone knew was expecting to “bug out” one day when the government and black helicopters came.  You might be able to take out a few people but 200+ Nope. You’re going to take a lot of them out but they’re going to come in, kill you, your family, and your supplies.

What? Don’t agree? People won’t do that? Again: Other than on the coast (in some major cities near harbors anyway) you’ve heard and seen nothing from the government other than the occasional Black Hawk flying around. No TV. No phones. No radios. 

A few people have managed to dig up old HAM radios and they are getting distant broadcasts of reassurance but it’s clear that nothing’s coming any time soon if you live significantly inland, especially if you don’t live in a densely populated area.

It’s triage at this point and the rural and suburbs areas are simply too spread out. Unfortunately, in the cities, fires have consumed much of them. Anyone strong enough to get out of there has which further distributes the population.

A few older cars start showing up again on the roads as collectables and just old junkers are fixed up and are able to drive because they didn’t have electronics in them.

End of the first month:

A network of outposts are re-established in most large and medium sized cities. Medium sized cities are faring a bit better. Kalamazoo Michigan, Santa Cruz California, and other cities of this kind are doing okay now as convoys are starting to show up.

Really large cities away from the coast are dead at this point.  Sorry Omaha, there’s nobody home anymore.

The Second Month:

Now is when the death toll really starts to go up.  First, you have about 5% of the population that was on medication to control their mental states. This is now gone.  They will mostly die off this month or take out a few others in the process.

Nearly everyone with Type 1 diabetes has died.

Virtually who requires assisted care at this point has died.

Millions of children under 2 have died. Why? Do you have any children? If you’re not nursing them, how are you feeding them at this point?

There are not many domesticated dogs left that haven’t been freed by owners.

The number of deer left that are near people has diminished to the point of being difficult to find. Same with geese, ground hogs, rabbits, etc.

Most cities of any decent size now have an outpost re-established with convoys of food now arriving. However, it’s starting to become a real problem because, well it turns out that the US and Canada supply a significant chunk of the world’s food. 47% of the world’s Soy beans are produced in the United States. 86% of the world’s corn. The bulk of the world’s wheat. 

It’s during this second month that the food shipments to the United States are going to start to dry up as hunger starts to become a significant problem in China, Japan, and other countries that have to import food. The US and Canada make up 20% of the world’s food exports and if you count only basic foods the percentage nearly doubles. 

The world has its first universal consensus: Oh shit.

It’s at about this time that those who were celebrating in the streets about the downfall of the great satan are starting to get the first thought that yes, they’re going to die too. North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, and many other countries are about to see starvation on a level that has never been seen before.

By contrast, Europe is doing okay. Not great. But okay. Their economies are in ruins but they’re not going to die enmasse. 

In Japan, where starvation is a serious concern, they and Korea have enough money to pay top dollar for the dwindling import food supply. Russia, unfortunately, is about to have a very rough year.

Needless to say, the food aid shipments to the United States are starting to dwindle. Western Europe, particularly Great Britain, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands are still sending food shipments.

If you’re on the East coast in a secure area, you’re in good shape.  If you’re on the west coast, most of you are going to die.

Third Month:

The population of the United States is starting to take on the same appearance it did in 1909.

Here is what it looked like in the year 2000.

8% of the poulation was over 70.  Nearly all of them have died.

3% of the population is under 4.  Nearly all of them have died.

Urban populations of the United States have had staggering death tolls, particularly those not near the coasts.

Anyone requiring medication that needed to be refrigerated in order to live (anti-rejection drugs, insulin, various heart medications, for instance) has died. Easily 10% of the population on top of the above.

Around 20% of the population has starved.

Another 10% in the south who are living in places that were uninhabitable without modern technology have died.  Think LA is nice? Imagine it without water.  Any water.

In fact, if you live in California, take a look around. Where does your water come from?  Most of the population of Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and parts of Utah have died.

Power is starting to get restored due to generators and the government now had a decent supply of cars. Fixing the grid has become a priority.

While heat has killed millions in the south, we’re now getting near November. It’s starting to get cold.

The fourth month

I tell people who come and interview that Michigan’s southern part is about the same latitude as Northern California.  Winters in the upper part of the United States and lower Canada aren’t that bad – if you have heat.

But we don’t have heat.  Natural gas has to be pumped and pumped through a huge network across the country.  When power goes out, even for a few days, a lot of infrastructure falls apart.  New York’s subways, for example are gone.  Much of Chicago has flooded too.  Those who have enough propane will be okay, for awhile (at least until armed thugs come and take it).

By this point, restoring natural gas is not going to be a simple matter of restoring power.  Ever wondered how natural gas gets to your house?  It’s all repairable but it will take time and unfortunately, a lot of that expertise in people has died or is otherwise unavailable. That means bringing people in which will take more time.

If you live in northern states at this point, and you haven’t starved to death, you’re probably going to start dying of exposure.

But that’s a gift compared to what people still struggling to make it in warmer areas as we get reintroduced to cholera, TB, and diarrhea become major problems.

In fact, in 1900 the #1 cause of death in the United States was pneumonia. The #3 was diarrhea. That’s right. The runs killed more Americans than Heart disease, cancer, strokes, etc.  And this November, it returns from retirement as people, without proper sanitation, start to die off from all kinds of things that were previously unheard of.

In fact, as November closes, the United States has reverted to a third world country. No, that’s not fair. Third world countries usually have electricity and their inhabitants usually know how to start a fire.  Do you know how to start a fire without matches and such? Remember watching Survivor and laughing at them? They were in pretty good conditions to get a fire going.  You, by contrast, are wet, cold, weakened, and not sure if it’s even a good idea to start a fire because, well, what are you going to do with it? There’s little food.

On the west coast, food shipments have dropped to a trickle.  LA, Seattle, San Fran, it’s not a fun time there now.

One Year later

The grid is re-established in the midwest, the east coast, and much of the south.  It’s partially re-established on the west coast thanks to help from South Korea, China, and Japan. Thanks guys. We appreciate it even if most of us are dead.

So what’s the death toll?  Conservatively, you’re looking at 40% of the population of the US and Canada has died. That’s probably a best case scenario if food and equipment shipments from the rest of the world come in quickly.

A smart (well not really smart because the states that sponsor terrorists have died off due to the unintended consequences) terrorist would have also zinged Japan, South Korea, the Chinese east coast, and western Europe. If that happened, you would be looking far higher deaths everywhere as there would be no relief coming in.

The population of the United States today is over 300 million people.  In 1900 it was 76 million. The biggest reason for the increase isn’t due to birth rate but rather the massive decline of the death rate.  And remember, they had infrastructure back in 1900.  We’d be worse off than they were because they knew how to live back then. 

How many people know how to can food? How many modern Americans know how much wood to cut to burn? How many Americans live in places where they need an elevator, as a practical matter, to get to where they live?

Heck, how many Americans are simply living today because they have access to all kinds of medical technology?  How many Americans are living in places that can only be inhabited thanks to modern technology? Most of the south west was a barren desert until electrical pumps became possible. Much of the south wasn’t, as a practical matter, livable until air condition.

Also, consider our immune systems of today versus what it was 100 years ago. Our sterilized world has made us very vulnerable to the bacteria and viruses that lurk just outside our electrified civilization. And they would be back to visit within weeks.

Conclusions

Is what I describe realistic? Nobody really knows. There are studies out there.  The book One Second After is a bit more dire than I think it would be.  And it may turn out that our infrastructure is tougher than it seems or that the types of nuclear warheads that an Iran or North Korea could produce aren’t powerful enough to cause the necessary EMP. 

But what is so frightening is how vulnerable we are.  It wouldn’t take much of a shove to bring down the electrical grid.  You could still end up with a situation where 10% of the American population (30 million) die simply by screwing up the electrical grid for a couple months.

Do I think this will happen? Probably not. I have a lot of faith in humanity.  But when one considers the things that we worry about – global warming comes to mind, it amazes me how unconcerned people are at how easily disrupted our modern lives could be given how dependent we are on our technology today.

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June 29, 2009 11:37:38 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

 

 

No, but a lot of newer cars have integrated computers. Also, just about every car has a battery and some sort of electrical mechinisms that run off said battery. They might not be electrically based, but many do use electricity in some way. The real question is will the loss of those electrical systems compromise the car, or will it still be able to run, albeit with limited capabilities. IMO, we can't actually know the answer to that question without setting off an EMP an finding out.

Unless you have an electric car plugged into the power grid, the heavy electrical components in the car, including the battery, are just fine.  Even electrical engines and transformers are safe if they are not attached to the power grid.  This is one of the reasons why the power company sometimes detaches transformers during a solar flare.  As you mentioned, it is the integrated circuits in the computer chips that risk being damaged.

Well, the spark plugs are inside of basically a solid block of metal, and EMPs don't do much to batteries themselves... I'd be more worried about an arc off of the gas tank setting something on fire, but even that's HIGHLY unlikly.

 

A gas tank should not be affected because there shouldn't be any potential circuit inside it to spark.  Sparks are a danger in other areas though --  an interesting article I read about EMP's danger to military equipment discussed how a lot of explosive ordinance is detonated by timed release of an electric charge, and these could in fact spark due to EMP setting off the munition.  Things like a claymore mine.

 

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June 29, 2009 1:48:25 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Yes, but in order to get a spark, you'd need to induce a fairly large amount of electricity. I have adoubts about the EM pulse being able to generate that in such a small length of conductor as would be present in a, say, claymore mine.

This sounds like one for Mythbusters. They like big explosions anyway.

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June 29, 2009 1:52:53 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I have to agree (in my humble opinion) that if terrorists or a rogue state did have nuclear weapons in their possession they'd be more inclined to use them on a highly populated area, like detonating them over a major city to inflict massive casualties.

In terms of EMP, that could be carried out more by a super-power state as a calculated move. Or as part of a first strike. In fact high altitude nukes for the express purpose of EMP's were one of the options the Soviets had in a direct nuclear war in order to sow as much confusion and disorganization as possible in order to "open the door" for their backfire bombers and other military assets to penetrate as far as possible before being intercepted.

For example, if China detonated several EMP's over the continental U.S there would be widespread confusion as most major communication and power networks would be down for a while.

This confusion and bedlam at home would give them the opportunity to, I don't know, invade Thaiwan or Japan for example. Once the U.S would recover (which it would), it would then be facing the prospect of either

A) complete nuclear annihilation with the other power

or

  A long conventional war with a distant power that's already cementing it's hold on the new region it had just conquered. Having lost regional staging grounds like Japan or the Phillipinnes would mean another D-Day type invasion which if memory recalls took several years of planning and organization to pull off.

And of course they'd be counting on the fact that the folks at home would be more concerned about getting reliable running water and power than worrying about fighting a war in a distant land at this point.

Just some food for thought?

 

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June 29, 2009 2:19:24 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

In terms of EMP, that could be carried out more by a super-power state as a calculated move. Or as part of a first strike. In fact high altitude nukes for the express purpose of EMP's were one of the options the Soviets had in a direct nuclear war in order to sow as much confusion and disorganization as possible in order to "open the door" for their backfire bombers and other military assets to penetrate as far as possible before being intercepted.

For example, if China detonated several EMP's over the continental U.S there would be widespread confusion as most major communication and power networks would be down for a while.

This confusion and bedlam at home would give them the opportunity to, I don't know, invade Thaiwan or Japan for example. Once the U.S would recover (which it would), it would then be facing the prospect of either

A) complete nuclear annihilation with the other power

or

A long conventional war with a distant power that's already cementing it's hold on the new region it had just conquered. Having lost regional staging grounds like Japan or the Phillipinnes would mean another D-Day type invasion which if memory recalls took several years of planning and organization to pull off.And of course they'd be counting on the fact that the folks at home would be more concerned about getting reliable running water and power than worrying about fighting a war in a distant land at this point.

Just some food for thought?

 

The good news here is that all of the major nuclear powers have 0 incentive to hurt the USA.  We are all so economically entwined that the loss of one country will cause tremendous problems for the others.  Now, if a fanatical regime takes charge, this could change someday.  This is one of the reasons nobody wants North Korea or Iran to have nukes.

 

Yes, but in order to get a spark, you'd need to induce a fairly large amount of electricity. I have adoubts about the EM pulse being able to generate that in such a small length of conductor as would be present in a, say, claymore mine.

This sounds like one for Mythbusters. They like big explosions anyway.

 

My understanding is the sparks that could set off electronic triggers are not caused by the long lasting EM field residual effect of EMP, they are potentially caused by overvoltage from the initial pulse.  The overvoltage electric field has such a brief / sharp gradient, it is mostly dangerous to tiny things such as integrated circuits WITHIN computer chips.  It was just listed as a possible concern in a military paper, that great care be taken with explosives because they could be compromised by an EMP event.  Even all of the electrons going to ground shouldn't harm anything that it isn't a convenient conductor to the ground.

Now if we could just get Mythbusters a blackmarket Soviet nuke or an EMP bomb, they could start testing this stuff for us.

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June 29, 2009 2:27:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Now if we could just get Mythbusters a blackmarket Soviet nuke or an EMP bomb, they could start testing this stuff for us.

Actually, they (the military) have stationary devices that can generate a local field for testing hardened gear.... and I imagine it would be possible for someone with a few large industrial magnets and a lot of metal to actually build one on their own...

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June 29, 2009 2:29:35 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

5 container ships in the gulf of Mexico fire medium range SCUD missiles high into the atmosphere until it reaches far above Kansas and other states. On board are 45KT nuclear warhead.

before the weapons are detonated, hackers from this forum detect and reroute the missiles to north korea, iran, and san francisco (home of skynet).  the remaining missiles all target the location where the nukes originated turning their motherland into a smooth glassy bowl which will later be filled with water and used for recreational water activities like house boating, skiing, and wet t-shirt contests.

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June 29, 2009 2:29:51 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

This sounds like one for Mythbusters. They like big explosions anyway.

I agree, the Mythbusters should really test the effects of a nuclear EMP. It can't be too hard to get one, can it?

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June 29, 2009 2:45:12 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Not as long as you stay small scale on a bombing range

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June 29, 2009 3:06:48 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Its true that no amount of firearm security can push back a desperate and frenzied mob, thats why the kids need to be trained to pitch molotov coctails and high powered pipebombs from the topfloors

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June 29, 2009 3:15:31 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Its true that no amount of firearm security can push back a desperate and frenzied mob, thats why the kids need to be trained to pitch molotov coctails and high powered pipebombs from the topfloors
Skills I learned in Scouts and the movie Red Dawn. 

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June 29, 2009 4:24:10 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

No, what you do is let a few of them in, give them food and drink, arm them and turn them into your henchmen. Then, you use them to raid for food and supplies, and use *that* to recruit more from the desperate mob, also strenghtening your position. Rinse, repeat, conquer the world. Muahaha.

 

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June 29, 2009 7:07:04 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

But TV, radio, street lights, etc did. Which either means that such devices are more susceptable to EMP's than some people think, or that the generators or other parts of the power grid were affected.

Let's see, TVs, radios, and microwave dishes; three types of devices specifically designed to receive electromagnetic signals, and you wonder why they would get damaged by an EM pulse? The streetlights may simply have been inadequete circuit breakers/fuses, as there was no report of widespread household lights being destroyed.

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June 29, 2009 7:17:37 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Proof that you're wrong is that an enormous amount of technology that wasn't updated to be "Y2K-proof" survived just fine. There were no major equipment failures or anything like that. There were lots of little glitches here and there - date display bugs and some other minor things here and there - but nothing even remotely like planes falling out of the sky - and even with no preventative action, planes would not have fallen out of the sky. And the reason wasn't because the problem was recognized and protected against - the reason is because the problem was blown so far out of proportion I'm surprised that no one was arrested.

Also, you really think it'd be cheaper to protect all electronics against a nation-wide EMP? Are you insane?! You clearly have no concept of what it takes to ruggedize electronics, because it sure isn't cheap.

Nothing will catch on fire and explode DIRECTLY because of Y2K error (had it not been fixed), but you will have computer failures. Now not ALL planes would have failed, but suddenly losing autopilot and some instrumentation COULD have cause SOME planes to fall. There are various redundancies and safeties in the autopilot design, semi modern ones have usually 3 seperate VMs running on different hardware programmed with different programming language and "voting" on actions. But when the plane thinks it has an enough fuel for thousands of miles or other weird abberations, well, anything could happen. especially with non attentive pilots and or fly by wire planes.

Older ones could potentially have a buffer underrun as they have just one simple program running direct. NEWEST ones are so complex that they offten cannot be developed for DIFFERENT platforms on different languages. as such there is a likelyhood of simultanous failure. A modern plane is extremely dependant on its computers to function and stay in the air.

And I never said protect ALL electronics, and I repeatedly said that LAPTOPS are not an issue. I said protect LAW ENFORMCEMENT equipment, food distribution trucks, and water distribution. NOT ALL ELECTRONICS. everything but those three things can be repaired after the attack.

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June 29, 2009 8:21:31 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

Nothing will catch on fire and explode DIRECTLY because of Y2K error (had it not been fixed), but you will have computer failures. Now not ALL planes would have failed, but suddenly losing autopilot and some instrumentation COULD have cause SOME planes to fall. There are various redundancies and safeties in the autopilot design, semi modern ones have usually 3 seperate VMs running on different hardware programmed with different programming language and "voting" on actions. But when the plane thinks it has an enough fuel for thousands of miles or other weird abberations, well, anything could happen. especially with non attentive pilots and or fly by wire planes.

Older ones could potentially have a buffer underrun as they have just one simple program running direct. NEWEST ones are so complex that they offten cannot be developed for DIFFERENT platforms on different languages. as such there is a likelyhood of simultanous failure. A modern plane is extremely dependant on its computers to function and stay in the air.

The problem with Y2K was that computers would say the date was 1900. That might be a little annoying, but it would not interfere with much of anything, especially not autopilots or anything else critical. Maybe people's taxes and other records, but not mechanical-control systems.

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June 30, 2009 4:15:42 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

The problem with Y2K was that computers would say the date was 1900. That might be a little annoying, but it would not interfere with much of anything, especially not autopilots or anything else critical. Maybe people's taxes and other records, but not mechanical-control systems.

Unless it makes the program commit a fatal error and be terminated.

A quick google search for "boeing Y2K" lead to this interesting article.

http://www.sasflightops.com/737/Y2K.htm

Boeing jets built before about 1980 are not affected because were not designed with any onboard computers, officials said. Boeing did not study non-standard equipment such as in-flight entertainment systems.

Boeing engineers said they initially feared the Y2K problem would affect virtually every computer system on the airplane.

``We assumed the systems would not function,'' said Jim Huffaker, lead engineer with Boeing's Y2K team.

In fact, engineers discovered that onboard computer systems rarely have time-sensitive functions beyond recording the date transmitted by a central computer.

Onboard navigation systems were the main exception because they are updated every 28 days with the latest information on airports and navigation markers around the world.

In one such system installed on many 747, 757 Md 767 models, a computer screen indicates ``Nav data out of date'' when year 2000 information is fed onto the airplane.

In another case affecting some older 727, 737 and 747 models, the problem is severe enough that airlines would ground the planes unless it were fixed, Huffaker said.

In bulletins sent out last year, Boeing specified software or hardware updates to resolve the problems. The repairs are not mandatory because airlines can choose to validate their data using a separate code number on the in-flight display.

Boeing encountered its first Y2K-related problem in 1993, when a computer program crashed trying to order a supply of titanium for delivery in 2000, said Willie Aikens, program manager for Y2K issues. Since then the company has gone through all internal computer systems and intends to be ready for the new year by July 31, he said.

While the had (reasonable) concerns, they found out that the worse problem would be a specific model (20 of which worldwide) unable to take off due to inability to complete preflight checks. I am curious as to WHY it was unable to complete preflight checks, and what would have happened had it already been in the air at that time. 20 planes worldwide aren't many, but still an issue.

Most flight systems were unaffected, or will continue to function fine while only displaying the incorrect date. But that does not diminish the potential threat posed by such a bug. a combination of luck and preemptive action does not mean everyone who applied their brain and predicted a POSSIBLE failures was off their rocker. (Although I never agreed to the idea that EVERYTHING will fail, that was stupid)

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July 9, 2009 3:20:05 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

The biggest problem with an EMP attack is actually getting the nuke in the right spot.  If it was an ICBM, the nation that launched it would almost certainly have a large number of incoming ICBMs about to wipe out its infrastructure and military.  Thus, an ICBM probably wouldn't be launched.

If it or they were TBMs like scud missiles, it/they would be shot down.  At least it would be based on how our missile defense system has been advertised.  From what I read earlier, many TBMs would need to be shot to replicate the high-altitude EMP blast anyways, making a stealthy approach with TBMs nearly impossible.

An SLBM is probably the most likely method of launching an EMP attack, since unless the submarine or missile is identified there is no way of knowing for certain who shot the missile.  However, very few nations have submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

 

One thing I did want to mention about cars being safe from EMP was that on Futureweapons, an EMP was fired in a test and a car was disabled.  However, the car was about ten feet from the EMP device, so I don't know how much weight this test actually carries.

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July 9, 2009 5:09:08 AM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

satelite delivery... get it in orbit now, blow it up later.

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July 9, 2009 5:20:11 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

How much weight - none. Hell, I can make that kind of EMP, just give me enough juice, a giant capacitor bank and a big antenna.

And again - EMP attacks are useless unless executed as a strategic gambit to throw a stricken nation in even deeper disarray. A terrrrrrrrorist or rogue nation attacking US would not waste its nukes on an EMP attack - it would try to blow up as many cities as possible.

Also, the famed missile shield - doesn't work. Never will. Its a play on sucking more taxpayer dollars, as usual. People forgot that in the cold war, there was a simmilar idea, of shooting Soviet nukes out of the sky... then someone came up with a nasty design called MIRV. Basically a set of several smaller warheads designed to scatter either on the carrier rocket destruction (or if the onboard computer detects its being targeted) or just prior to reaching its target.

The net effect is that MIRV ICBM's are impossible to effectively stop, unless you can shoot them while they're still in suborbit ascension phase.. And no, lazer shooting aeroplanes wouldn't work either.

And then, there is always the possibility of fitting small, tactical-level nukes (which can still level a city) on a cruise-missile type carrier, designed to fly at extremely low altitudes and thus avoid effective radar and interception tracking. And blow up if it does get locked-on, taking out whatever is in the vicinity.

Bottom line - nuclear weapons are nasty business, designed for massive destruction - not subtle Sci-Fi gameplay straight out of bad fiction. If you got one, and want to use it, you won't be gunning for people's laptops and car computers.

In fact, the only reasonable use for an EMP attack is if you plan to actually invade and conquer USA - you wouldn't want to conquer a radioactive wasteland.

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July 9, 2009 6:17:30 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

Didn't read all of what has been posted, but nukes aren't nescessary to cause an EMP. Ever heard of EMP bombs?

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July 9, 2009 8:43:58 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Outside of bad science fiction, no.

But I'm always interested in things I don't know. As far as I know, you can have two ways to generate an EMP - a nuke going off and a specialized device producing what is known as a NNEMP - non nuclear EMP. As far as I know, these devices require a LOT of power and have a very limited radius of action.

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July 9, 2009 7:41:10 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

I didn't read most of what has been posted either, but this is really really unlikely to happen. EMPs are only useful for the short term, aka, if someone is to attack the US, they would use the EMP as a strategy to first disable all the services that Electronics provide and then physically or remotely attack the country. There's no point to attack in EMP and let the people die slowly, that's rather ineffective unless you're just mean and evil. Besides, the US has just too many procedures to prevent all of this from happening in the first place. The most important is intelligence, knowing about it before it happens, second is actually preventing it with missiles. The second the US gets attacked it's going to retaliate, and I don't think anyone would bother to get into a war with the US just like that. We're at a modern age, all land has been occupied, there isn't really anything left to fight over for. Seriously, just solve it up with Diplomacy.

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July 9, 2009 11:24:42 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

i wonder how effective it would be to put a nuke in a regular cargo plane for EMP purposes.

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July 9, 2009 11:50:17 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

Quoting taltamir,
i wonder how effective it would be to put a nuke in a regular cargo plane for EMP purposes.

Negligible, one of the necessary conditions to generate a wide-area EMP like discussed here is to be above the atmosphere entirely. A space shuttle could do it, but a plane would not be much different from a standard nuclear attack.

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July 10, 2009 12:11:51 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Negligible, one of the necessary conditions to generate a wide-area EMP like discussed here is to be above the atmosphere entirely.

What? why?

The higher you are the greater the area affected due to the curvature of the earth shielding further away locations. But there is a downside that the higher you are the less POWER the EMP will have due to having had longer to disperse. Some suggested using multiple missiles at a below orbital level to deal with the power dispersion issue.

What makes you think it has to be in space?

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July 10, 2009 12:26:47 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

Quoting taltamir,

Negligible, one of the necessary conditions to generate a wide-area EMP like discussed here is to be above the atmosphere entirely.


What? why?

The higher you are the greater the area affected due to the curvature of the earth shielding further away locations. But there is a downside that the higher you are the less POWER the EMP will have due to having had longer to disperse. Some suggested using multiple missiles at a below orbital level to deal with the power dispersion issue.

What makes you think it has to be in space?

Look on the first or second page of this topic, there are links explaining the physics of the explosion. A detonation above the atmosphere releases far more of its energy in EMP-range radiation compared to an atmospheric detonation, which loses most of its power forming a shock wave. Not to mention the magnetic effects that are entirely lacking from the atmospheric detonation. Bottom line is if you can't get it above 100 miles (200 is better), you get more bang if you use it to actually blow something up.

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