Sunday, October 17, 2010

CME, EMP and Ammo Cans

I went to a flea market this morning and while looking around stumbled across two good-sized ammo cans of decent quality, which I promptly purchased. Ammo cans are a great way to store and transport things of value, especially if they're electronic.

A month or two back the sun belched out a huge flare, which as luck would have it, was headed straight for our tiny planet.  A Coronal Mass Ejection, or CME, is a large release of plasma from the outer layers of the Sun. A large, fast-moving mass of highly radioactive and magnetic cloud of charged particles which is akin to an Electromagnetic Pulse. Thankfully this recent ejection didn't really affect us too much, but the sun is constantly ejecting huge clouds of radiation, and in our world of electronics and technology, a full on flare would likely be as catastrophic as Katrina, only on a Global Level.

On the first of September of 1859 the first coronal mass ejection that hit the earth was observed though its effects weren't quite clear.  Had the same ejection hit us 140 years later the first thing that would happen is every unshielded electronic device would simply stop working. Furthermore, it wouldn't go on again as all of its circuits would be Fried.  Take a second and look around you. Consider what in your immediate surroundings uses electricity. Lightbulbs, televisions, cellphones, computers, modems the pumps that drive your water, what heats your house ... consider now the world around you and how it operates.  Huge servers that contain data, your bank accounts, ATMs, the computers that drive distribution of food, electricity, the machines that make it ... one can go on and on about it.  Some cars, particularly new cars would stop working completely, navigation and radar for airports and airplanes, dead. Planes in the sky would need to land ... only without the electronic systems that run the complex devices within ... mayhem.

Without the distribution system and transport of food cities would almost overnight become a hell-hole of rioting and crime - without radios or phones police officers could only communicate by voice or signal, and even then I wouldn't bet on the officers remaining on duty in the first place.

If suddenly there was a blackout, and everyone's cell-phones were dead, I would assume an EMP from a high-altitude nuclear detonation, or a Coronal Mass Ejection from the sun, and I'd allow myself no more than 1 hour to get my stuff, and get out of the city, if my car were still working. Beyond that its logical to assume that you'd get trapped in the mass exodus or ensuing anarchy.

As I've put a fair amount of money into portable electronics, I seek to protect myself from huge losses should such events come to pass.  The best way to do such a thing would be to put your electronic devices in what is known as a Faraday Cage.  I won't go into specifics but  a faraday cage is basically a box or container of conductive metal or mesh that is grounded. The electromagnetic pulse would be absorbed and distributed via ground in a similar manner as a lightning rod.

Here's where Ammo cans come into play. They are water-proof, sealed metal boxes of conductive metal and as such, they make excellent faraday cages.  Furthermore, they usually have handles, arent too too heavy, and are relatively fire-proof.  I use ammo cans to store my computer and other electronic equipment at night (my laptop fits nicely) and when they're not in use during the day.  At work I have an ammo can under my desk lined with foam that I'll throw my backup harddrives, mp3 player and phone into when I arrive.

Beyond EMP protection Ammo cans are excellent for also storing ammunition, and even food (if you're worried about vermin)  They are also fairly fireproof and would make good containers for important documents and photos.  The only drawback is that they can be somewhat unappealing to the eye and can stand out in a way that might make you look odd to visitors.


  1. If you're worried about looking odd to visitors, odds are you're not anywhere near a survivalist anyway lol

    It really is scary stuff to think about.. here's to knowing some basic woodcraft.

  2. find the most random shit at flea markets