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High-Altitude Nuclear Explosions Dangerous, but not for Reasons Gingrich Cites | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network

Newt Gingrich has been warning the nation of the danger of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP)--a burst of radiation created by a high-altitude nuclear explosion. This pulse would take down electrical systems over hundreds or thousands of miles, the argument goes, knocking the U.S. back to the 19th Century. "In theory, a relatively small device over Omaha would knock out about half the electricity generated in the United States," he was quoted as saying by the New York Times. In Gingrich's view, the threat of an EMP attack justifies actions such as pre-emptive strikes on the missile instillations of nations such as Iran and North Korea.

The threat of an EMP attack is real--assuming, of course, that a nation or organization develops not only nuclear weapons but intercontinental ballistic missiles and the will to deploy them. Yet the primary target of an EMP wouldn't be ground-based power systems. It would be satellites.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:38:38 PM EST
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