Just Because Turns Out An Electromagnetic Pulse From A Nuclear Bomb Probably Won’t ‘Fry’ Your Quartz Watch

Description

The idea that an EMP can disable sophisticated electronics is a much-used trope in the movies, on TV, in manga, and pretty much anywhere else you need to narratively zotz electronics. One of my favorite examples is the “pinch,” as they call it (this is not entirely fiction, the Z-pinch, or zeta pinch, is in fact a thing), which Danny Ocean’s crew uses in Ocean’s 11 to temporarily knock out the Las Vegas power grid (for a suspiciously exact period of time) while not also simultaneously causing every aircraft for miles around to make energetic contact with terrain. Another is the underrated, subtle, character-driven dramatic masterpiece Pacific Rim, in which one of the monsters, or kaiju, can actually generate an EMP that can be used to disable the Jaegers, or giant fighting robots, sent to destroy it. Supposedly, the reason the Jaeger called Gipsy Danger is unaffected by the EMP is because “Gipsy’s analog!” as one character shouts. This seems hilariously implausible, to say nothing of inaccurate to put it mildly, but hey, we’re talking about giant robots fighting giant monsters. (Also, c’mon, “Gipsy Danger” sounds like Optimus Prime’s stripper name. I made this joke to my older son, a confirmed sci-fi enthusiast, and he said, without looking up from his book, “Frankly, ‘Optimus Prime’ sounds like Optimus Prime’s stripper name.”)

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