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EM/RF Shielding and Its Effects on Nuclear Fallout

Oxillini and I have recently had discussions on the uses of EM/RF shielding and have decided to do a three part series of postings on what The Hanso Foundation could use this technology for. (Its long, but bear with us, its good.)

First, EM/RF shielding and its effects on nuclear fallout.

Oxillini has a great essay on nuclear winter/fallout:

With the knowledge that the mysterious Valenzetti equation predicts nothing short of the extinction of the human race, and the common conception that this extinction will come about due to global thermonuclear war, I found myself pondering a few questions.

First, why would THF want this equation?
Do they want to prevent extinction by changing things in the world? Is THF really a well-meaning company that believes its end goal is so noble that any amount of evil deeds to reach that goal is acceptable? Perhaps THF would like to choose a set of humans to survive Armageddon. Maybe that’s why the Lost "Others" are so obsessed with "the Good Ones." Perhaps, THF will sell opportunities for this. (Now that sounds very Bond movie villain-esque!)

Second, what does it mean for the Earth to undergo global thermonuclear war?
How long before the surface is inhabitable? Will the atmosphere ever really recover? If I was on an island in the South Pacific and the US and Russia annihilate each other, how long do I have left in my secluded paradise? Minutes? Years? This is what I intend to research here.
The concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD, appropriately enough) states that if I fire a nuclear weapon at you, you’ll fire at least one back at me. This doctrine provided a tense but workable peace between the US and USSR throughout the Cold War. The Cuban Missile Crisis, which was the impetus for the UN commissioning Valenzetti’s eponymous equation, introduced the World to this concept in a real-world scenario.

So someone fires a nuclear weapon at someone else, that second party fires back and the nuclear party starts. In 1986, the World Meteorological Office (WMO), a branch of the UN, published their study on Nuclear Winter. This study assumes half the world’s nuclear arsenal is detonated, with a total yield of approximately 6000 Megatons. This report estimates that, within 14-35 days of the detonations, ambient temperatures would fall by 59 to 104 degrees, using 68 degrees as a baseline initial temperature. These temperatures would destroy one year’s worth of agricultural production. The UN Food and Agriculture Office estimates the global food stockpile at 33 days. Developed nations could have as much as one year’s food while the third world would run out in days or weeks. Mass hysteria and chaos (among the survivors) would result from the imbalances in food supply.

Third, so maybe THF could prepare for a nuclear winter in bunkers, what about fallout?
Fallout is the residual radioactive contamination that literally falls out of the atmosphere following a nuclear explosion. Under the scenario listed above, where the big players in nuclear arsenal get in on the act, fallout will be spread throughout the globe, but not evenly. All nuclear arsenal powers are located in the Northern Hemisphere. The Southern Hemisphere will receive fallout, but to a lesser degree than the Northern. Placing a "survival station" on an island at the equator is better than, say, Europe but is not ideal.

It is important at this point to differentiate radiation from contamination. I have seen this confused many times. The best analogy I’ve heard is this: "Imagine you have a bowl of rotten eggs. The eggs themselves are the contamination. The stench is radiation." Radiation is simply energy transmitted via waves in the electromagnetic spectrum. Contamination (in the nuclear context) is matter which gives off radiation.

When nuclear weapons detonate, the fireball vaporizes everything within a given range. This vaporized material becomes the nuclear fallout. This fallout will consist of more than 300 different fission products, each with a unique half-life; unfissioned fuel material, up to 98% of the total fuel load; radioactive dust, stable matter that underwent neutron bombardment to become radioactive; and short-lived elements which can only be created under the unique conditions of a thermonuclear blast (like einsteinium).

This fallout is quickly carried into the stratosphere by the blast and will take years to settle out. The radioactivity levels associated with this dust evenly coating the globe would not be life threatening to humans. The danger is from ingestion of fallout. Iodine –129, Iodine-131 and Strontium-90 are three long-lived isotopes that would accumulate in the body. Strontium-90 substitutes for Calcium in bones and will not leave the body once ingested. Iodine-129 and 131, will be absorbed by the thyroid and cause cancer. (If you ever see "Radiation Tablets" being sold, what they do is saturate the thyroid with non-radioactive Iodine so that Iodine-129 cannot be absorbed; the Russian Navy issued these to submariners!)

Fourth, what to do about contamination?
Assume, then, that THF puts people on an island in the South Pacific with at least one year’s food supply. The world’s nuclear powers do not aim missiles near the island to cause high local doses of radiation. That island could withstand nuclear winter given enough food, shelter, heat, etc. Could they withstand the fallout? I believe they could. Decontamination of the island would take years, if not decades would be difficult but possible given the near limitless resources of a corporation the size of Hanso. Could the SPIDER protocol consist of going into holes to wait out nuclear Armageddon?

Now, my theories on why I think THF has an RF shield set up on the island, and some insight into the SPIDER protocol in conjuction with Ox's information:

It has been proven that RF shield can protect from radiation. So its obvious that THF would love to have an RF shield to protect themselves against the nuclear fallout that is inevitable. (If, indeed the valenzetti equation is true)

It has also been proven that the EM waves could interfere with a missile's targeting systems, throwing thw warhead of course. If THF is going to bomb the world as a preemptive strike against an inevitable armageddon. (Something I'm not sure of yet.) They would need some kind of a defense from other nations firing back. (see the MAD protocol as refernced by Ox)

Finally, the last reason why I think THF has an RF shield on the island is because they have referenced to the spider protocol in the multicolored letter we have received. SPIDER possibly stands for "Scalable Processor Independent Design for Electromagnetic Resilience". This protocol as used by NASA is a new family of fault-tolerant architectures under development at NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC). The SPIDER is a general-purpose computational platform suitable for use in ultrareliable embedded control applications. The design scales from a small configuration supporting a single aircraft function to a large distributed configuration capable of supporting several functions simultaneously. This SPIDER protocol could be used to control to large networks of antennas that are needed to produce an RF shield to the strength THF needs.

Next week, Ox and I hope to produce a post on the uses of a EM shield in conjuction with fusion energy.

Namaste dudes,

Crossfade and Oxillini


Blogger Crossfade said...

First, ok not fair, I know.

7/10/2006 11:59 AM  
Blogger oxillini said...


7/10/2006 12:01 PM  
Blogger maven said...

That's not fair you two! You knew you were posting this. THIRD, HA!

Anyway: Great thoughts and thorough research. Another thing that could tie into this scenario is the life extension stuff, missing organs, blood stuff, etc. and trying to prolong life. Maybe they want to outlive the apocalypse and aftermath?

However, I still have a gut feeling that SPIDER is just an acronym that TPTB have made up just like they did with DHARMA. I hope I'm wrong, the NASA stuff fits in.

7/10/2006 12:05 PM  
Blogger ambersumiko said...

Wow, really good post guys.. so much info. to get through! Very indepth and well thought out.

I too think that SPIDER will turn out to be an acronym a la Dharma.

7/10/2006 12:07 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

I know it's a bit of a current trend to tie nanites into everything at the moment... but is it possible they could be a part of this? Perhaps the medical angle is the most likely, the nanites could help the body deal with radition? I know that doesn't have anything to do with the shield other than another measure in conjunction with it.

7/10/2006 7:43 PM  
Blogger Crossfade said...

Lavenda, part 3 of Ox and I's series plans to talk about nanites.

7/10/2006 9:06 PM  
Blogger oxillini said...

I'm sure everyone will be waiting for part 2 of the series, EM fields and Fusion. It's like a PBS miniseries!

7/11/2006 8:26 AM  
Blogger Shakey said...

Love the stuff so far Crossfade and Ox. When I have some time I'm fleshing out my own version/theories on this trying to tie together some loose ends.

For now however, I leave you with this: further to the initial comments on RF shielding to protect from nuclear radiation, it turns out that electromagnetic shielding can't really stop Gamma particles - the lil buggers are just too fast and can't easily be stopped through EM fields alone.

Given that a good chunk of the radiation from decaying isotopes is Gamma particles, our RF shield idea falls over in that specific regard.

When I have something to post I'll let you guys know.

7/11/2006 11:03 AM  
Blogger oxillini said...

shakey: i do believe EM fields would do a good jop shielding alpha and beta radiation, though. neutron radiation from contamination would be negligible. shielding gammas is a real pain though. it takes 2" of lead or 10" of concrete to shield just 90% of them. gammas are closer to wave energy than particles. hmmm. let's see, how thick was the concrete on the swan station?

7/11/2006 12:09 PM  
Blogger Shakey said...

Hi Ox

I thought about the concrete elements of the Swan hatch myself, but let's be honest why go through the hassle of creating EM shielding when you're just going to need a load of lead/concrete in a localised area anyway (which does a good job of keeping alpha, beta and neutron radiation out anyway)?

Between the three of us we can knock together a pretty convincing argument for the EM radiation shield (certainly I was surprised when so many things started falling into place when I made my original posts), but there's still a few problems with it.

What I'm working on is taking this back to basics and answering things we've directly seen, such as Swan hatch only kicks in full-on when you don't issue the 108-minute command, the fact that it has a fail-safe shutdown which seemingly does the same thing as entering the code, only on a more permanent basis, and the fact that when Swan hatch does kick into full power you get a localised Northern Lights trigger.

I like the idea of EM radiation shield, I like the idea of rail guns, I like the idea of stealth.

Hopefully work will leave me alone enough so I can get something together, but truth be told it'll probably end up in the comments piece by piece lol

7/11/2006 7:34 PM  
Blogger Shakey said...

Just a quick thought: x-rays and gamma rays are more of less the same thing, just named differently depending on their origin.

The Earth's magnetospehere does a great job of keeping x-rays out, so perhaps we were on the right track - could Swan station be the generator for a small-scale magnetosphere? That would keep the x-rays/gamma rays out.

Perhaps though the sheer power of such a field would end up ionising local atoms, trapping them in this field for its duration thus creating a mini Van Allen belt (thus explaining the Northern Lights effect turning the sky red).

Another thought: what's the ionising potential of Deuterium Oxide (heavy water)? If D20 can absorb gamma radiation then injecting it into your body would be a good safeguard. Of course having sufficient quantities of D20 inyour body will mess you up also.

Another thought: the black cloud we've seen could well be lead molecules held in a magnetic field which get thrown up as a lead bubble during the EM shield to help with the gamma rays.

7/11/2006 8:14 PM  
Blogger oxillini said...


d2o (like h2o and human tissue) is a terrible gamma shield. it is great for neutron, hence it's use in commercial reactors (in Canada anyway). wiki has some interesting stuff on the magnetosphere. the 108 minute thing does tie in well with a safeguard in case the inhabitants have been out of the hatch too long. the island protects them and causes "northern lights" as a side effect. good tie in shakey! i'm skeptical of trapping lead molecules and forming a black cloud (since it is not a ferrous metal). i really think tptb want to go the nanobot route on this. but a cloud ferrous metal particles would do a lot to boost shielding. steel makes a passable gamma shield, although not as good as lead it is far better than water or air.

by the way, what's your background? just interested in em and radiation?

7/11/2006 10:16 PM  
Blogger Crossfade said...

Hey guys, GREAT thoughts on making an "artificial" magnetosphere. Interesting stuff.

7/12/2006 8:05 AM  
Blogger Shakey said...


My background's computing and design. I was pretty good at sciences at school but never carried it on to the more advanced levels. I can understand the basics of most things if I read them enough, and I've got little bits of everything knowledge-wise in my brain, plus mixed with being a sci-fi nut for a long time, I can draw on a lot of different things to come up with ideas and do enough research to back them up or discount them.

Put it this way, I can usually Treknobabble like I'm on the writing team ;)

In regards to the lead elements of the EM shield, just coat the lead balls in steel THEN manipulate them through magnetism. Over the top I know but it does allow you to manipulate lead through magnetism.

The big thing I'm working on though is trying to get around the big point you made originally about physical matter from fallout as that's something a simple EM shield can't do anything about. And given how we've theorised this shield could work, once the material is on the ground (i.e. inside the EM bubble) the shield's useless.

And I don't fancy coating the entire surface of the island in 3 inches of Boron dust!

Without going seriously sci-fi, instead of absorbing the materials ejected from nuclear decay, could you stop the decay itself by stabilising the nucleus? And if so, what are the chances of doing it electromagnetically?

That way our little sation could well have an island-wide cleaner, halting the decay in any matter falling to the island with a burst of the EM generator. One manual clean-up of the now-safe material and the island's fine again.

Like I said serious sci-fi but it's just a random thought...

7/12/2006 10:29 AM  
Blogger oxillini said...

hmmm, can't think of a way to halt decay. the half-life of a radioactive isotope is pretty much a physical constant for that isotope.

7/12/2006 11:40 AM  

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