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So say I have a world miles ahead of what we have in technological terms today, which, without getting into too much detail, has a power system that is universally used across the globe. (Save for parts of the middle east and Africa.) It uses large substations for entire regions. It is an interconnected system, but not necessarily connected to the internet. What would be the most surefire way to completely knock out the power, sending a world so reliant on tech into a anarchy? Either a natural disaster or some sort of targeted attack seems like it would work but I'm not exactly sure how.

Furthermore, what would happen to society? How would people in such an advanced world react? How would governments even cope about something like this?

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closed as too broad by Aify, Hohmannfan, TrEs-2b, clem steredenn, Mołot Sep 15 '16 at 7:55

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Specifics about how the power is generated and what kind of technology is available would be extremely useful in answering this question. If it's all nuclear power plants, it's tricky. Conversely, this is all solar power plants, that's a different kind of solution. $\endgroup$ – Green Sep 15 '16 at 2:08
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding! Asking "what would happen to society" is almost sure to be flagged as "too broad" a question. Narrowing it down to a specific part of society is a good start. $\endgroup$ – Green Sep 15 '16 at 2:11
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    $\begingroup$ Questions of how to break systems are troublesome on WorldBuilding.SE. If you're asking how to break something that was expressly designed from the beginning to be hard to break, like a power grid, all of the particulars become important. WorldBuilding is not a forum that's designed to handle that sort of a question. As an example, consider that one fighter might be able to squeeze off a torpedo or two into a thermal exhaust port, taking the whole system down... $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Sep 15 '16 at 3:02
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Like Nolo said, almost certainly an EMP attack. I would just like to add that beyond the conventional attack they outlined, there is also the far more effective nuclear EMP attack. (Assuming megaton nuclear missiles are available.) If a multi megaton nuclear weapon is detonated above the atmosphere, much of the energy impacts the atmosphere in the form of gamma rays, which knocks electrons loose from the impacted gas molecules, causing a massive EMP roughly the size of the continental US. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_electromagnetic_pulse

It's startlingly effective, which both the US and USSR learned the hard way. But in defense of the Nolo's attack though, here is James Burke's riveting tale of what happened when a single relay failed in 1960.

"Domino Effect"

http://www.dominoprinciple.com/2015/02/15/connections-trigger-effect-james-burke/

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I explained EMP devices in another post unrelated on magnetic weapons.

Basically an EMP is an electromagnet with a high power source attached to it producing a very powerful magnetic field. The electromagnetic coil is then destroyed with a standard explosive charge which allows the magnetic field to collapse in on itself. The rebounding signature of that collapse is a high electromagnetic pulse which, when it passes through electronics or conductors, induces a high current. This can destroy electronics, overload relays and cause circuit safety mechanisms to fail. If detonated in the right location, given our current electric infrastructure, the result could be a cascading blackout spanning an area perhaps the size of the Eastern seaboard. Depending on how your power grid is laid out and how it is designed this may be one way to describe a targeted attack that makes sense.

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Solar Flare.

Solar Flares can destroy any grid system or worse. Repairs can cost up to the billions/trillions of dollars and can take years depending on the strength of the geomagnetic storm.

Without electricity in a civilization dependent on it would be chaos and would immediately bring them back a few centuries.

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I do like the idea of an EMP attack, but a civilisation with us+500 years of technology would soon be up and running again after the attack. I don't think this would result in the world descending into anarchy.

A nanotechnology attack might be feasible with nanobots seeking out and attacking sources of electromagnetism.

The result is that you'd lose electricity to a large extent and be reliant on mechanical ways of producing energy. You'll be back into the steam age.

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