Subremer GMR

Computer crashes may be due to forces beyond our solar system

When your computer crashes or phone freezes, don’t be so quick to blame the manufacturer. Cosmic rays — or rather the electrically charged particles they generate — may be your real foe. 

While harmless to living organisms, a small number of these particles have enough energy to interfere with the operation of the microelectronic circuitry in our personal devices. It’s called a single-event upset or SEU. 

During an SEU, particles alter an individual bit of data stored in a chip’s memory. Consequences can be as trivial as altering a single pixel in a photograph or as serious as bringing down a passenger jet.

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