Since humans have bent electricity to war, there has been a hunt for a special weapon that renders the technology particularly useless. Lurking in the annals of weapon design, and periodically re-emerging as a novel solution to some new machine, exist tools that target electronics, and electronics only.
Early in July, Russian media described a weapon that roughly fits into this tempo, using the phrase “EMP cannon.” EMP, or electro-magnetic pulse, is a real, observable phenomenon, but the primary way to produce the effect at scale is to use a nuclear weapon.When the nuke is detonated low to the ground, an electromagnetic pulse is one effect of many, limited in range and whose effect is largely overshadowed by the fire and death of the nuclear blast. When the nuke is detonated at high altitude, in the lower reaches of space, the pulse can travel quite a distance, though the effect is mitigated by hardening of second-strike nuclear weapons and the almost certain nuclear retaliation that would follow.
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