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In 2051 a Neo-Luddite movement known as "Amos"/"The Adherents of Amos" detonated some sort of weapon in LEO (low earth orbit) causing a global black out shutting down technology and to a extent modern society. To Amos the snuffing out the sin and vice of technology that "corrupted" our souls is the only way to save humanity and bring about global equality (crash the economy to get rid of the rich poor divide). No matter though technology was restored eventually and things slowly pieced itself together.

Now what I'm stuck on is the device itself. What kind of device (delivered by rocket) could have the capacity to explode in orbit and shut down technology across the globe. Frying power networks, taking down servers corrupting data, etc.

The device has to: cause a global black out for the most part (a few exceptions are fine as long as the black out is still a global issue), the black out takes at least weeks preferably months to fix directly (as in restore power completely, recovery would take years), and finally not cause too much damage to the environment a little would be acceptable however.

Note:

Amos has deep pockets (backing from disenfranchised rich people/skilled person's turned fanatics as well as support by misinformed religious groups

Don't worry about the fate of Amos they fall apart due to this black out actually worsening the economic and social conditions of the world instead of solving much.

The device would preferably be delivered by ICBM/Related technology

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  • $\begingroup$ @user535733 in this case they've been wrapped up in Amos' dogma to believe they will benefit and grow in power from this black out. Be it a kind a king of the wasteland, living in paradise, whatever gets them to donate to Amos $\endgroup$ – Celestial Dragon Emperor Mar 14 '19 at 4:02
  • $\begingroup$ What irony that an anti-technology group would use the technology they despise to destroy technology. $\endgroup$ – DarthDonut Mar 14 '19 at 7:10
  • $\begingroup$ shutting down technology (black out = no power) in 2051... you are talking about tens of millions of dead population... planes, trains, cars, ships, subways, every possible transportation vehicle will instantly stop to work. Hospital's icu/ccu, life support units.. all dead. $\endgroup$ – andrew Mar 14 '19 at 11:05
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The weapon you need to wipe out all technology, and be resident in space, is already up there;

The sun.

The problem is that we have a magnetic field around the earth that (very conveniently for us) shields us from most of the cosmic rays and charged particles that are known to play havoc with electrical grids and technology for short periods of time, like during the Solar Max, solar flares or to a lesser degree during Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). Take out that magnetic field, and you take out the tech.

To that end, what you need is some form of large scale Helmholtz Coil, designed to cancel out the Earth's magnetic field over a very wide area. Perhaps even a handful of them all in geostationary orbit, so that the bulk of population centres are covered.

This model would actually have the benefit of allowing you some gaps in your coverage where tech might still work, but it's not without its price.

It's not just the tech that would die in this scenario. Life needs that protection as well and short of going back into deep ocean habitats, it's not feasible that you can kill off tech for an extended period without also killing off all life on Earth, or at least the land based life for a certainty.

Still, your neo-luddites don't need it to be operational in the long term. Put it in operation for around 2 weeks, and your society would descend into enough chaos that even with the tech being capable of operating, the house of cards of interdependency between all the elements of our existing technological existence would have already collapsed. This also means that your orbital coils only need a fixed energy source up there with them and the units can safely stop operating when that's expended, the damage already having been done.

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    $\begingroup$ Are you sure about this? While Helmholtz creates a weaker magnetic field within an area, doesn't it actually increase the total field? So while you'd totally mess any magnetic compasses within the area, if anyone still uses any, I don't see why it would reduce protection from the solar wind. Also, the geometry and power requirements of this might be pretty challenging. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Mar 14 '19 at 8:45
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    $\begingroup$ @VilleNiemi If this was a hard science question then I wouldn't have posted this as you're right, scaling up to create the effect in a way that allows the passage of the charged particles has never been tested. This answer is at least in part speculative but if done the right way, might lead to the result I describe. And the power requirements would be massive; I was thinking a small nuclear reactor up there with the coils, like a Mr Fusion... $\endgroup$ – Tim B II Mar 14 '19 at 20:34
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cause a global black out for the most part (a few exceptions are fine as long as the black out is still a global issue), the black out takes at least weeks preferably months to fix directly (as in restore power completely, recovery would take years), and finally not cause too much damage to the environment a little would be acceptable however.

And you got deep pockets...

There is your answer: Money can cause your global blackout

First thing you want to do is build a corporation, just like umbrella, looking for a bunch of rich people that think the same as you, or maybe under a drive to "create a more docile and peaceful society". That way you got a even more deeper pockets!

Then its actually your call, you can use the following:

  • Bombs: Well, a basic C4 can destroy a Powergrid to a server, hire men, armies, or even a nation to do your bidding. Bomb away those servers while keeping the environment unscathed.

  • Virus: Just like Umbrella corp, but without any virus that causes someone to be insanely overpowered, release a virus that transforms humans (and only humans) to become zombies... annihilate every human from the face of the earth (well, not your group of course) then release a zombie killing virus afterwards, then destroy the servers powergrids to your liesure

  • EMP: A EMP nuclear warhead, with Tsar Bomba's magnitute, and make hundreds, even thousands of them, release them to every point of the planet. Sure they might leave a few places but you can still hire people to blow those survivors.

etc...

Money can basically move mountains, you just have to have lots of it

Note: This does require a lot of time...

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