Re: TWA 800 in NYRB

Date:         26 Apr 98 03:44:14 
From:         baldamus@cs.tu-berlin.de (Michael Baldamus)
Organization: Technical University of Berlin, Germany
References:   1 2
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luisma@ic.vel.indra.es wrote:

> In article <airliners.1998.500@ohare.Chicago.COM>,
>   John Bay <70302.2311@CompuServe.COM> wrote:
>
> >i'd have thought the metal fuselage of an airliner would be pretty
> >effective shielding for emi...
>
> It makes a Faraday box, which isolates the inner part of the aircraft
> from the outside.

Not another TWA 800 theory, BUT: airliners are vulnerable to electromagnetic
pulses such as those generated by nuclear explosions (so-called EMP's). They
can be hardened, as it has been done with the US presidential 747's. That
seems to require considerable effort.

Also, it is possible to generate EMP's by electrical means.
This is actually done in practice to test military hardware. I can
remember a television report showing such a facility in the US.

Various tidbits I have gathered over the years seem to indicate that not
all military hardware is as resistant as those presidential 747's. That
should be especially true of the hardware of potential adversaries of the
US. "Directed energy weapons" should, therefore, be interesting given that
their characteristics are sufficiently EMP-like. I have no idea whatsoever
whether such devices are possible.

Michael Baldamus
Dresden University of Technology
baldamus@math.tu-dresden.de