Physics Question #2855

Shayne Paterson, a 25 year old male from Lincolnshire, UK asks on July 26, 2005,

I am currently researching EMP for a essay at my college. My essay is looking at possible non-lethal techniques in order to stop suicide bombers. The question I have is, is it possible to design and build a EMP generator the size of a football? Could the pulse be directed? What are the limitations?

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The answer

Jess Brewer answered on July 28, 2005

I hate to rain on your parade, but EMP is not likely to stop a suicide bomber. An EMP (ElectroMagnetic Pulse) disables delicate electronics by inducing currents that overheat small connections and such. Suicide bombers rarely employ anything more sophisticated than a battery and a switch, so to affect them you'd need an EMP so strong that it would probably do more damage than the bomb. As for EMP generators, you can probably find out all about them from Google; but the idea is a non-starter. Sorry.

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