Of Britannica and pulse weaponry

Downstream thinking — a.k.a. living in the future — is a stressful but necessary pastime for one interested in innovation. Why? You must be prepared to look for unseen, hidden or unintended consequences. As astronaut Frank Borman told the congressional committee investigating the Apollo I disaster, it was a “failure of imagination.” A fire on the ground wasn’t something they had considered.

The inevitable decision announced today by the Encyclopedia Britannica to cease its print publication in favor of its digital unit is one such event. Let us all enter into this with eyes wide open. Through such decisions, we’re saying as a culture that we prefer our knowledge stored electronically, so let’s take a look at a downstream issue that badly needs discussion: how do we protect digital storage?

One of the problems with people is that whenever somebody builds something new — especially when it means an advantage — there is an immediate need for somebody else to tear it down. This is especially true in Western Civilization, where imagination and invention are rewarded through steps up the social ladder. Maybe it’s because we’re predisposed to destruction, but every new thing seems to be immediately weaponized or turned into something that can be used to our advantage.

So it is with electricity and the electromagnetic space. Electromagnetic Pulse weapons (EMP) — which we have — can take down electrical grids and permanently (until parts are replaced) destroy instruments, devices, systems and infrastructures. “Blinding” and “deafening” the enemy is more than just the physical destruction of cell towers, for example; it’s about blowing out the electrical components that make everything work. We’ve long known this was a side effect of nuclear bombs detonated high in the atmosphere, but we’ve refined the process in modern times.

Many gasped when it was discovered last summer that China was building EMPs to hypothetically use against U.S. aircraft carriers in the event of war.

I’m certainly no alarmist when it comes to this stuff. I’m 100% behind the fuel and the products of the Digital or  Information Age. I just think it would be prudent to explore all aspects of what we’re doing as we make big cultural decisions like this.

Think about it. How would you and your neighbors respond if everything suddenly stopped working? The ensuring chaos would be unspeakable. I’ve often wondered why Hollywood hasn’t grabbed this concept.

The Air Force is responsible for protecting the electromagnetic space for us. Do we have an anti-pulse weapon weapon? I wonder…


  1. I find this post interesting I guess it’s time to invest in some Faraday cages.

  2. Michael Peter ILL says

    I have an Innovative Idea for a new Pulse Weapon. It will bring a new definition to the battle field and a new definition for Pulse Weapons. I have been just started to begin with the designs, and the prototypes. And the cool part about it I am only 19 and MIT loves this new idea.

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