electromagnetic pulse


Definition of electromagnetic pulse

: a pulse of high-intensity electromagnetic radiation generated especially by a nuclear blast high above the earth's surface and held to disrupt electronic and electrical systems Any nuclear bomb detonated high above the atmosphere bathes the area below in a powerful electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that is likely to burn out delicate electronic chips, transistors, computers and power and communication systems. The pulse happens at the speed of light, covering an entire continent.— William Broad abbreviation EMP

Examples of electromagnetic pulse in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

One of them, ADMX (Axion Dark Matter eXperiment) uses specially crafted, ultrasensitive antennas to convert background axions into electromagnetic pulses. Quanta Magazine, "Time’s (Almost) Reversible Arrow," 7 Jan. 2016 An electromagnetic pulse can take out everything all at once. WSJ, "Protect the Grid Now or Face Disaster Later," 9 Aug. 2018 Other ICBMs could detonate EMPs (electromagnetic pulses) knocking out connections to the modern world. Allison Barrie, Fox News, "New laser-equipped drones will take out missile threats against the US," 7 Sep. 2018 And when students asked to make electromagnetic pulse technology, the school graciously accepted, Ars wrote. Don Reisinger, Fortune, "Inside Elon Musk's Ad Astra School Where Grades and Traditional Classes Don't Exist," 26 June 2018 The intense heat would set gas lines, fuel tanks, and power lines on fire, and an electromagnetic pulse created by the explosion would knock out most computers, cell phones, and communication towers within several miles. Daily Intelligencer, "This Is What a Nuclear Bomb Looks Like," 12 June 2018 Impenetrable from the outside, the bunker can resist any electromagnetic pulse, even a nuclear attack. Trina Thompson, Fox News, "Rare look inside Cheyenne Mountain Complex, 'America's fortress'," 11 May 2018 It's secured by two massive 23-ton blast doors, completely sealing it off from the outside world to survive a nuclear strike, or maintain communications after an electromagnetic pulse attack. Scott Mclean, CNN, "Inside the mountain base still on alert to North Korea's missile threat," 11 May 2018 An electromagnetic pulse fries cellphones within 5 kilometers, and the power grid across much of the city goes dark. M. Mitchell Waldrop, Science | AAAS, "What if a nuke goes off in Washington, D.C.? Simulations of artificial societies help planners cope with the unthinkable," 12 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'electromagnetic pulse.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of electromagnetic pulse

1951, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about electromagnetic pulse

Statistics for electromagnetic pulse

Last Updated

19 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for electromagnetic pulse

The first known use of electromagnetic pulse was in 1951

See more words from the same year

Comments on electromagnetic pulse

What made you want to look up electromagnetic pulse? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to form ideas or theories about something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!