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Computer Errors from Outer Space

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Subatomic particles from the Sun and beyond our solar system which could be the cause of glitches that afflict our phones and computers.

Credit: NASA

Ever-shrinking microchips are elevating the risk of computer glitches caused by cosmic rays bombarding the Earth from outer space.

Researchers suspect these subatomic particles of inducing electrical imbalances that cause malfunctions in computer memory.

Bits in computer memory devices are sometimes stored as an electrical charge, and cosmic radiation can flip their state and change data, with potentially disastrous repercussions.

Although proving a cosmic particle's culpability in single-event upsets is impossible, Paolo Rech at Italy's Trento University said the possibility indisputably exists.

Some researchers are exploring methods to monitor for electromagnetic interference from subatomic particles, while the continuing miniaturization of transistors in computer processors increases their susceptibility to such disruptions.

From BBC News
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