General Question

Zyx's avatar

Is there a positive charge EMP? Can electricity be contained?

Asked by Zyx (4011 points ) November 5th, 2012

I was watching V for Vendetta and there was this bomb on a digital timer which is ofcourse a turrible* idea but it made me wonder if you couldn’t disarm it by pulling all the electrons out of there.

Now if a regular EMP wouldn’t set off the bomb this doesn’t fit so I’d like to know that too. Anyway, you’ll probably need more than a short burst to fight the generator/battery but I don’t even know if you can build up a positive charge like a negative one.

*watch the cleveland show, I’m only pluggin it because it’s hilarious (most of the time)

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6 Answers

LuckyGuy's avatar

EMP stands for electro-magnetic pulse. Under those conditions the circuits are exposed to both electrical and magnetic fields.
When a circuit and housing are designed you build them to satisfy certain specifications. If you have the money and the need you “rad harden” the package so the device will still be working when only cockroaches and tardigrades are walking the earth.

Zyx's avatar

Yeah I know all that it’s more about the electrons and the positive/negative charge. Beware the question might not make sense, that’s why I’m asking.

EDIT: I’m also aware the positive charge comes from the protons and not the electrons.

ETpro's avatar

If an explosive device had a digital timer to detonate it, and it was not EMP hardened, it would explode due to a proton or electron burst of sufficient flux density. An EMP overloads the wiring of non-hardened devices (like our current electrical grid) and burns up the wiring. So anything non-explosive would just be rendered inoperable. But an explosive device would almost certainly be triggered by the leading edge of the current surge induced in its circuitry by the EMP. Polarity has no effect on that.

dabbler's avatar

“Positive charge comes from the protons” A positive charge is typically a dearth of electrons, or in electronic structures like a transistor an ‘electron hole’ where an electron would normally be. Protons tend to stay where they are at the nuclei of their respective atoms.

If the bomb was made to go off when some current flows in the wires attached to the explosive substance, then a serious EMP could create plenty of current in those wires enough to set it off without the timer.

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ETpro's avatar

Actually, the area immediately surrounding a mid-air thermonuclear burst bears a positive charge for a time thanks to ionization of air molecules, mainly via the Compton Effect. Further from ground zero, the wave that propagates outward is negatively charged. So far, there have been no complaints of EMP damage due to the positive charge near ground zero, as there has never been anything left to do any complaining.

Lightning is a more mundane event where both positive and negative charge points are involved, and a current flow develops in the air between the two points, rapidly heating the air and turning it into a conductive plasma. The rapid expansion of the air due to the extreme heating caused by the current flow gives us the audible thunder we hear when lightning is within a dozen or so miles of us. Interestingly, while it is “common wisdom” that “Lightning never strikes the same place twice.” is pure rubbish. Antennas atop tall buildings and other tall, highly conductive surfaces get hit just about every time a thunder storm erupts near them. And this video shows that what may appear a single strike is actually a chain of discharges following the same plasma conduit in the atmosphere once it is established.

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