Nuclear Weapons: The Danger of EMP

Scientists and military planners assigned to devise defenses against nuclear blasts have had their hands full.

They must shield prospective targets against thunderous shock waves, searing heat, deadly X rays, gamma rays and neutrons. They must also guard against a lesser-known product of atomic explosions called electromagnetic pulse, or EMP. In a recent Washington speech, Senator Henry Jackson, atomic-weapons specialist of the Armed Services Committee, insisted that despite five years of research, EMP still poses a "serious problem" to the nation's communications, radar and missile systems.

EMP is created when gamma rays from an exploding weapon strike electrons in the surrounding...

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