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Is Ollie North correct?

  1. May 31, 2017 #1


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    Last edited: May 31, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. May 31, 2017 #2


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    Decades seems extreme but it would likely shut it down for a couple of years while the electrical grid is rebuilt. The ramifications WOULD likely be felt for one decade or so. In any case it would be severe.
  4. May 31, 2017 #3


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    In a TV documentation they've said, the critical point are the transformers and especially the big ceramic insulators. Apparently we (all humans) only produce them in a few places anymore. They said it would take decades to rebuild enough of them. Btw, it doesn't take a nuclear explosion, a major CME could have a similar effect. Not sure how reliable those reports are. I found it amazing that we shouldn't be able to increase our production capacities if needed. Probably the reason why I remember it.
  5. May 31, 2017 #4


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    Yeah, I remember reading something similar and agree w/ you that it sounds unlikely that we would be unable to up the production capabilities IF the problem were localized to, say, just Hawaii. If it were a large portion of CONUS then that would be a different story.
  6. May 31, 2017 #5

    jim mcnamara

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    NASA has a nice piece on the effect of a large CME - a coronal mass ejection of plasma from the sun. There are follow up links to more detailed information. Note: the most severe effects are much more likely at high latitudes.


    The effect is apparently not effectively different on a power grid from the EMP generated by a nuclear fission bomb, except on the geographic scale of the impact, smaller by far for a bomb.
  7. May 31, 2017 #6


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    It would take a long time to rebuild all transformers in the world at the current production rate. The production rate could increase, however.

    Just Hawaii? Hawaii has ~2 GW of electric power. China is adding 10 GW to their grid per month (123 GW in 2016). The number of transformers doesn't scale linearly with power, but still - Hawaii wouldn't even be a large customer.
  8. May 31, 2017 #7
    Lightning is an electromagnetic pulse discharge.
    Does Hawaii go black for decades from a severe thunderstorm?

    A CME would probably have a lessor effect on Hawaii's power network, than other areas where transmission lines span long distances.
    One CME in 1989 blew out a few relays in a northern electric production facility, and a failure of a transformer ( eastern USA ) was attributed to faulty grounding.
    Quebec was back up and running 9 hours later, so no real big deal there.

    Both are aspects of a HEMP ( hi altitude magnetic pulse ) .

    The third, though, which the other two do not have, is gamma ray production for a HEMP, lasting nano seconds. Energetic electrons can be produced, which by their movement can set up disruptive electrical pulses in electronic components.

    One aspect of a HEMP is line of site. a low altitude hemp is limited mainly to the horizon. The higher the HEMP the broader the field affected, perhaps 1000 to 2000 km directly.
    I kindof doubt that N.Korea has the present capability to be deploy a high altitude HEMP near Hawaii. A nation nearby should conceivably be more worried than anyone near Hawaii .

    Look up Starfish nuclear high altitude explosion ( 200 km ) in 1962. Some electrical problem did happen in Hawaii some 500 miles away.
  9. May 31, 2017 #8


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    After all the comments and a little searching, I get the picture that things go beyond what I would have thought......of course depending on how large a pulse might be.

    If I read correctly, anything electrical and in operation at time of the event would be victimized :frown: brings back memories of a breaker bar landing across the terminals of a fully charged battery :eek:

    But a system that could deliver such coverage seems unlikely to me.
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