Newtonian Physics

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Department of Defense

Electro-magnetic pulse. EMP. A nuclear shock wave. The ultimate doomsday weapon. Whatever you call it, the notion of detonating a nuclear blast high in the atmosphere to fry the electronics of what is underneath has been a defense bugaboo for years. It’s one thing for congressional conservatives to detail the purported threat, but quite another when it’s embraced by Newt Gingrich, the GOP front-runner for president.

Ace technologist Bill Broad at the New York Times takes a closer look at the peculiarly symbiotic relationship between Newt and EMP in Monday’s paper. Bottom line: if we deem this to be a threat we have to deter, then there is no threat we can confidently assign to the: yes, there’s a tiny chance it could happen, but – because leadership is all about assessing risk, not exaggerating it – we’re going to pay minimal attention to it and not invest the billions needed to counter it.