February 20, 2017

"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."

computerworld: 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. By Magdalena Petrova

'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.

'An SEU was also blamed for an electronic voting error in Schaerbeekm, Belgium, back in 2003. A bit flip in the electronic voting machine added 4,096 extra votes to one candidate. The issue was noticed only because the machine gave the candidate more votes than were possible.'

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