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News ::
How to Save $400 Billion Per Year
19 May 2002
As Benjamin Franklin said, a penny saved is a penny
earned. Now, if "our" military spends over
$400,000,000,000 per year on a useless "defense"
complex, why not earn $400,000,000,000 every year by
having an inexpensive, decentralized USEFUL DEFENSE?
Well, for decades, that's exactly what many citizens
have been doing. Building A-bombs. No, I don't mean
that dirty old atom bomb. I mean the "Amish bomb".
You know. E-bombs. EMP bombs. Those peaceful,
non-toxic, inexpensive Flux Compression Generators....

Not by Nukes
April 1, 2002
By bkl

The possibility that the Homeland Security force
empowered by "22-Caliber George" might inadvertently
"allow" a nuke to slip through and send a quarter of a
million Americans to meet that Great Supreme Court
Judge In The Sky is low. Possible, I admit, but low.

According to the press, any ten-year-old with a modem
and a five-minute attention span can download plans to
make an atomic bomb out of old TV parts and enriched
uranium available on EBay ("Divorce Final, Must

But it's not quite true. Although fission bombs are
simple to build in theory, a
weapons-of-mass-destruction hobbyist would need two
identical bombs -- one for a test, and one for the
Real Thing. It's not just a matter of building an
off-the-shelf uranium gun with a pipe, some C-4 and an
electric egg timer. It might work, and it might not.
And a successful test would draw attention from a
hundred nuclear explosion sensors in place around the
world and in orbit.

Far easier to build, build in big numbers, and build
discreetly, are EMP bombs. They aren't very good at
bombing, but they're extremely good at generating
EMPs. "EMP" is the acronym for "Electro-Magnetic
Pulse", like the electrical surge that a nuclear
explosion generates during the first 500 nanoseconds
after its detonation.

One kind of low-tech EMP bomb, a Flux Compression
Generator (or FCG), could be built for well under
$1000; the Popular Mechanics article cited below
quotes $400. Although the actual explosion itself
might be piddling, no semiconductor would survive in
the area affected by the EMP, except one in a
well-designed Faraday Cage. For a good introduction,
visit this website.

Here's few paragraphs from a more technical article by
Carlo Kopp that describes several approaches to EMP

9. The Proliferation of Electromagnetic Bombs
At the time of writing, the United States and the CIS
(Commonwealth of Independent States, the Yeltsin-era
name for what had been called the USSR --bkl) are the
only two nations with the established technology base
and the depth of specific experience to design weapons
based upon this technology. However, the relative
simplicity of the FCG and the Vircator (Virtual
Cathode-Ray Tube generator --bkl) suggests that any
nation with even a 1940s technology base, once in
possession of engineering drawings and specifications
for such weapons, could manufacture them.

As an example, the fabrication of an effective FCG can
be accomplished with basic electrical materials,
common plastic explosives such as C-4 or Semtex, and
readily available machine tools such as lathes and
suitable mandrels for forming coils. Disregarding the
overheads of design, which do not apply in this
context, a two stage FCG could be fabricated for a
cost as low as $1,000-2,000, at Western labour rates
(REINOVSKY85). This cost could be even lower in a
Third World or newly industrialised economy.

While the relative simplicity and thus low cost of
such weapons can be considered of benefit to First
World nations intending to build viable war stocks or
maintain production in wartime, the possibility of
less developed nations mass producing such weapons is
alarming. The dependence of modern economies upon
their information technology infrastructure makes them
highly vulnerable to attack with such weapons,
providing that these can be delivered to their

Of major concern is the vulnerability resulting from
increasing use of communications and data
communications schemes based upon copper cable media.
If the copper medium were to be replaced en masse with
optical fibre in order to achieve higher bandwidths,
the communications infrastructure would become
significantly more robust against electromagnetic
attack as a result.

However, the current trend is to exploit existing
distribution media such as cable TV and telephone
wiring to provide multiple Megabit/s data distribution
(eg cable modems, ADSL/HDSL/VDSL) to premises.
Moreover, the gradual replacement of coaxial Ethernet
networking with 10-Base-T twisted pair equipment has
further increased the vulnerability of wiring systems
inside buildings. It is not unreasonable to assume
that the data and services communications
infrastructure in the West will remain a "soft"
electromagnetic target in the forseeable future.

At this time no counter-proliferation regimes exist.
Should treaties be agreed to limit the proliferation
of electromagnetic weapons, they would be virtually
impossible to enforce given the common availability of
suitable materials and tools.

With the former CIS suffering significant economic
difficulties, the possibility of CIS designed
microwave and pulse power technology leaking out to
Third World nations or terrorist organisations should
not be discounted. The threat of electromagnetic bomb
proliferation is very real.


EMP bombs are frightening because they are cheap,
low-tech, and would create a "blackout" zone of
500-2000 meters' radius. If you are in that zone, say
goodbye to not only electrical power, radios, TV and
most of your appliances, but all the data on your hard
drive, floppy disks, cassette and VCR tapes and
custom-recorded CDs.

Want more? God help anyone in a hospital dependent on
even fairly low-tech medical devices. For instance,
intravenous solution drip controllers contain some
complex microprocessor circuitry. And most people with
pacemakers would simply die of immediate cardiac
arrest -- the rest might have a period of fatal

Are you paying attention, Mr. Cheney?

Twenty flux-compression EMP bombs detonated within NYC
would cause little or no explosive damage; however,
Manhattan Island would be dark and silent for weeks,
maybe months, and the damage to electronic devices
would total in the tens of billions of dollars.
Secondary losses would be at least as great, with a
many people dependent on electronic technology simply
dying. An EMP attack in midwinter during a cold snap
would condemn hundreds of infants, the poor, the
elderly, and the infirm to death from hypothermia.

A huge chunk of the world economy, stored inside
electromagnetic and semiconductor devices in New York
City, would simply evaporate. The total loss to the
economy would be far more extreme than the destruction
of the World Trade Center, which also involved the
loss of financial data (not to mention approximately
3000 human lives).

Even a single EMP bomb detonation in a car parked
outside a major broadcast studio would do major
damage. The car would be totaled, and the studio would
be off-the-air. A detonation near a military base
would take the base out in one stroke, as well as
cause an immediate "red alert" in the Department of

Nearly none of the devices killed by the pulse would
be repairable. So whatever "evil-doer" uses EMP for
warfare or terrorism, the effect on our lives would be
quick, deep, and painful.

If you want to read up on this, type the keywords "EMP
Bomb" into your favorite search engine, and you will
find hundreds of articles, most of which are either
written for the lay audience, or are easily
understandable to a scientifically-literate reader.
Add the search term "FCG" to focus on articles about
Flux Compression generators.

Can the Ordinary Joe take "countermeasures" against
EMP bombs? Yes, some. You can get an old tube-powered
AM/FM that can run for a while on batteries --
thousands were built in the middle 1960s and can be
found in thrift shops. Most cars built before the
introduction of electronic ignition and on-board
computers would still work. Ambitious technology fans
could build a tight Faraday Cage, preferably
underground (maybe in that Fallout Shelter your Dad --
or Granddad -- built in 1955!) and store an extra
computer system or two, along with radios, cell
phones, FRS walkie-talkies, scanners, and other
high-tech doo-dads.

Those who are amused by such things should note that a
Faraday Cage for one's electronic "toys" is the
ultimate "Tinfoil Hat"!

With or without a Faraday Cage "chip cellar", the late
Douglas Adams' advice is well worth taking: Don't
Panic. And that's good advice in any situation.

See also:
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