What is an EMP?

An Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) is a burst of electromagnetic energy that can occur naturally or through man-made applications.

EMP’s happen all the time, but they are usually small or with weak bursts and spread of a larger area that dampens the effect of the burst. The EMP’s that concern us are naturally occurring ones that happen in the stratosphere. This is where a short burst will excite electrons; this excitement leads to the generation of a large electrical current which does affect the performance of many electronic instruments, especially mobile devices.

Let’s take a look at the two different types of EMP

Natural EMP

The sun is our most powerful EMP generator, and its distance is still not enough to stop the powerful blasts of energy that solar flares blow out on occasion. The sun is constantly bombarding us with EMPs, albeit slowed down by the distance and more so, by our atmosphere. On very rare occasions, and to the universe this is relative, but in a natural human life cycle it is rare, the sun will blast out a very powerful solar flare that shoots damaging EMP’s so powerful they rip through the atmosphere and collide with the planet’s surface. Before electricity, this was not felt much, but in 1859, one such blast, called the Carrington Effect, swept over the USA disrupting the telegraph system, and even casing wires to catch fire.

EMPs in space do not cause as much damage as those on Earth, in other words, that very same 1859 EMP, had it been felt in space, would be just another electromagnetic wave, however, when it hits the earth Stratosphere, the EMP exciters the electrons into a frenzy leading to damaging electrical currents.

Man-made EMP

Manmade EMP’s occur from devices that emit electromagnetic waves. Currently, the most powerful ones are nuclear weapons, that when explode, generate a High-altitude EMP (HEMP), this has the same effect as the sun has, it excites the electrons in the Stratosphere, and you get interference. This is the least of your problems, but the HEMP is powerful enough to damage unprotected diode junctions.

EMP Myth Busting

Myth: Aluminum foil is considered a safety measure against HEMP.

Fact: Foil will not withstand a HEMP just as the effect in 1859, in fact, the foil will burn away in a flash. You will need Tech Protect Faraday Bags to save your devices as these are specifically designed to withstand a HEMP.

Myth: Batteries will be destroyed in an EMP.

Truth: No. Batteries are not diode junctions. Diode junctions are the delicate parts of an electronic circuit that are affected by an EMP. In fact, any powerful EMP might recharge your battery if its low.

Myth: A person’s proximity to an EMP blast is irrelevant.

Truth: The closer you are to an EMP blast the more likely you will be affected by its power.

Myth: Vehicles are protected against EMPs

Truth: Electronic parts in vehicles are unprotected, and all diode junctions will be damaged in a powerful enough EMP blast.

Myth: Airplanes will fall out of the sky in an EMP attack.

Truth: Airplanes are managed by the laws of aerodynamics, so if a plane loses its power, the pilot may still be able to land it. However, since the pilot might lose all control over every aspect of the plane, this could be an issue. Planes though have aerospace protection (like mil.spec. but higher), and the chances of the planes circuitry going offline are low. The FAA and other bodies realize that stratospheric EMPS are problematic, so manufacturers are prepared.