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Thursday

And the lights go out...Fun with EMP

National EMP Awareness Day and the end of electricity

Protection of critical infrastructure continues to be ignored. Of all the critical infrastructure to be considered, few hold the significance of our power grid. And still, few people are willing to discuss protecting it from natural or intentional threats.

The power grid is a series of electrical generating plants connected to form a distribution network or a grid. There is no capacity for storage of electrical power and if one plan is removed from the grid others must pick up the load. When that demand for power cannot be met by the grid the situation gets dim. Literally. (see Power Grids and Blackouts)

We've all experienced the occasional loss of power for one reason or another. Usually the lights go back on in a few hours and life returns to normal. The furnace or air conditioner starts modifying our indoor climate, our refrigerators and freezers keep our food supply safe, and the internet connection works. Life returns to normal.

The the thought the power going out and not coming back on can be frightening. Over half a billion people in India found out what happens when a national power grid fails in July 2012. Not only were people without electricity, but transportation systems were crippled, people were trapped in buildings and mines. In essence, time stopped and started to run backwards.

Our power grid continues to be vulnerable to natural disasters and mechanical failures as a result of neglect and obsolescence. But there is a growing threat looming on the horizon that could turn our civilization back a hundred years. That threat is electromagnetic pulse or EMP.

An EMP can be produced by a device designed to create the pulse or as the by product of a nuclear burst. Some have speculated that one of Irans goals is to be able to strike with an EMP. While awareness to the EMP potential continues to grow as fast as our dependance on technology, most of use remain unable to fully grasp the scope of the problem.

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