Have you watched an action or sci-fi movie in the last fifteen years? If so, you’re familiar with the Hollywood version of EMP, or electromagnetic pulse. Watched the Matrix? Morpheus used one. Watched Ocean’s Eleven? Van-sized Hollywood magic. The reality of EMP is a little different, though. Here’s your EMP protection guide: what you need to know and why you need to know it.
What is EMP?
As we mentioned, EMP stands for electromagnetic pulse. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a short burst of electromagnetic energy. There are both natural and man-made sources. EMP is also known as EMI, or electromagnetic interference. When EMI is used intentionally, it’s sometimes called EMP instead.
Where does EMP come from?
Sources of EMP range from small to very large. The size of the cause is directly proportional to the size of the EMP.
- Spark plugs:
- When you start a car that has spark plugs, they give off a tiny EMP.
- These are small and gone quickly.
- Cell phones:
- Your cell phone may cause interference with your radio (though less likely these days).
- Lightning strikes:
- Mother Nature’s EMP “weapon”, a strike is fairly localized.
- But it can create a large surge in current in nearby wires and damage equipment.
- Solar storms and flares:
- These are common, and small ones are the cause of the Northern Lights.
- A more massive event could cause widespread damage.
- In fact, NASA points out we missed such an event by only a week in 2012.
- Hostile actions:
- Doomsday enthusiasts portray a massive EMP attack by a hostile country as imminent.
- The more likely scenario is on a smaller, yet no less deadly, scale.
- Battlefield communications are crucial:
- And are much easier to disrupt if not properly protected.
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