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Suppose in a post-nuclear apocalypse world, there are still less than a million survivors throughout the world. Radiation levels in the air are lethal for many animals, sea water is contaminated and there is a persistent stench of burnt humans everywhere. Most survivors are hiding beneath the ground, having stayed clear from the blast as well as the searing heat.

Could radio work underground? Suppose there are still functional signal towers transmitting messages. If not, how would survivors communicate at a distance when anyone will become unconscious on the surface in 30 mins?

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    $\begingroup$ As long as the antenna (which ultimately is just a piece of metal connected to the sender/receiver) is outside, I don't see why not. $\endgroup$ – celtschk Sep 23 '16 at 8:01
  • $\begingroup$ @celtschk: I don't know if the radiation that is lingering in the air would interfere with the broadcast signal or not sorry the story is just a diversion.😁 $\endgroup$ – user6760 Sep 23 '16 at 8:13
  • $\begingroup$ @user6760 What range are you thinking of? Most of the city-wide options would work OK with radiation, but regional and intercontinental options would have some issues and could require some exotic methods. I could probably provide a good answer, but I need a bit more details on what you expect from the radio, other than that you need less than 30 minutes to set up the antenna system. Also what type of survivors are you aiming at? Civilians of the regular sort, military, preppers? $\endgroup$ – AndrejaKo Sep 23 '16 at 9:11
  • $\begingroup$ @user6760 OK, but that still doesn't answer what I'm trying to figure out. For example, there are troposcatter systems that are believed to be capable of working in high radiation that have rapidly deployable antennas and could offer long-range communications. That's why I'd like to figure out who are your focus groups and in what type of communication are you interested in. Also how soon after the explosions. $\endgroup$ – AndrejaKo Sep 23 '16 at 10:12
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    $\begingroup$ Two options come to mind but I'm not too familar with either: through the earth mine communication en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Through-the-earth_mine_communications and using the earth as radio transmitter ke3ij.com/gndradio.htm $\endgroup$ – depperm Sep 23 '16 at 13:55
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To elaborate on what celtschk already mentioned, the antenna could be put above ground, with a long cable that leads back to the receiving unit underground. In that way, radio communications should still be feasible.

If humans need to communicate while physically above ground, for less than 30 minutes at a stretch, assuming walkie-talkies are not allowed they may have to revert to primitive signal methods such as flashing Morse codes, etc.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes. As long as the radio circuitry hasn't been destroyed by EMP and there's no physical damage to transmitters and aerials, then there's no reason why radio transmissions can be used and be exceptionally useful in the period after nuclear bombardments. $\endgroup$ – user10945 Sep 23 '16 at 8:15
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    $\begingroup$ I would actually use cables to communicate. The good old telephone wire or basic internet. Rig the telephone-system/internet-network with newer cable tech like optical cables. Even, if you can't get the system fully running again, you can have Morse code signals signal down the cables like you mentioned with your flashing idea $\endgroup$ – user27600 Sep 23 '16 at 9:57
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    $\begingroup$ @DaMaxContent: that's a good point. The reason why I went with such primitive tech is because I kinda imagined that with such a short time available to them on the surface, humans would forgo setting up any kind of infrastructure, and be forced to just use simple tools they could bring around with them, hence the flashlights. $\endgroup$ – Xenocacia Sep 23 '16 at 9:58
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    $\begingroup$ Don't civil defence and some radio amateurs still hang on to radio gear built exclusively with thermiionic valves, precisely because this otherwise obsolete technology is EMP-proof? $\endgroup$ – nigel222 Sep 23 '16 at 19:21
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    $\begingroup$ @nigel222 I can confirm that some radio-amateurs do so. Furthermore, back in the valve days, there was a whole bunch of literature available on what to do in case of sudden nuclear war. In my country, for example, there was even a requirement for each radio-club to have at least one transceiver or transmitter/receiver pair disconnected from antennas and safely stored for such occasion. $\endgroup$ – AndrejaKo Sep 23 '16 at 19:24

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