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Can we nuke every computer in the country with one well-placed bomb?

Matt:

Is it true that a well placed nuclear bomb detonated over the central United States would erase the hard drive of every computer in the country? I guess no one would really care whether their computers worked if their skin was falling off. Please settle my mind about this.

-- Jim Stewart, La Jolla

Settle? Hmmmm. I'll stop you from puzzling over the old question, but I'll give you something new to fret about. That's a trend these days...the year of new things to fret about. May as well pile on this one, while we're at it.

Yes, a well-placed nuclear bomb could fry every hard drive in the country. It would fry not only all hard drives, but every other type of unshielded magnetic storage device, semiconductors, and most electrical wiring. Apparently the nuke geeks have known about this for 40 years, but it just hasn't come up much in conversation. The feds have to protect their Nevada facilities from wipeouts during nuke testing. I guess the rest of us are on our own.

When a nuclear device is detonated, among other stuff, it emits a spectacular pulse of energy in the range of tens of thousands of volts lasting less than a second. When this electromagnetic radiation encounters an unshielded bit of electronic or electrical gear, the voltage surge fries it or the radiation wipes out the data. And this could be a nuclear device set off 250 miles straight up, which wouldn't kill people, just electronics. That day you'll oversleep because your alarm will be fried. But so what? You can't drive to work anyway, cause your car won't start. But so what? The office computers are useless. So stay home and watch TV. Uh-oh, no TV. No radio. A big nationwide nuthin'. Chin up, Jim. The experts say it's possible for this to happen, but the odds are pretty slim that it ever will.

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Matt:

Is it true that a well placed nuclear bomb detonated over the central United States would erase the hard drive of every computer in the country? I guess no one would really care whether their computers worked if their skin was falling off. Please settle my mind about this.

-- Jim Stewart, La Jolla

Settle? Hmmmm. I'll stop you from puzzling over the old question, but I'll give you something new to fret about. That's a trend these days...the year of new things to fret about. May as well pile on this one, while we're at it.

Yes, a well-placed nuclear bomb could fry every hard drive in the country. It would fry not only all hard drives, but every other type of unshielded magnetic storage device, semiconductors, and most electrical wiring. Apparently the nuke geeks have known about this for 40 years, but it just hasn't come up much in conversation. The feds have to protect their Nevada facilities from wipeouts during nuke testing. I guess the rest of us are on our own.

When a nuclear device is detonated, among other stuff, it emits a spectacular pulse of energy in the range of tens of thousands of volts lasting less than a second. When this electromagnetic radiation encounters an unshielded bit of electronic or electrical gear, the voltage surge fries it or the radiation wipes out the data. And this could be a nuclear device set off 250 miles straight up, which wouldn't kill people, just electronics. That day you'll oversleep because your alarm will be fried. But so what? You can't drive to work anyway, cause your car won't start. But so what? The office computers are useless. So stay home and watch TV. Uh-oh, no TV. No radio. A big nationwide nuthin'. Chin up, Jim. The experts say it's possible for this to happen, but the odds are pretty slim that it ever will.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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