Having trouble with your electronic devices? According to a scientist, the devices in themselves may be unfairly blamed. Why? Because the cause of the freeze-ups may actually be tiny, subatomic space particles.
Our world is relying more heavily than ever on electronics. According to market surveys, most users have at least one or two electronic devices. And they use them on a daily basis. But sometimes, these may freeze or even crash. As most put the blame on faulty parts or even bad software, the fault may lie in another part.
A statement on the matter came earlier this week. And it was released by Bharat Bhuva during an AAAS presentation. AAAS is the American Association for the Advancements of Science. The 2017 edition is taking place this week, at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. It began on February 16th and will end on February 20th.
Bhuva is part of the Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. His presentation took place on Friday and was titled as follows. “Cloudy with a Chance of Solar Flares: Quantifying the Risk of Space Weather”.
Although the name may seem quite amusing, the subject matter was quite serious. It brought to attention the existence and presence of tiny subatomic space particles. Ones that may have a bigger than believed effect on our daily lives.
According to Bhuva, the electronic devices’ “operational failures” can be blamed on the outer space particles. These were described as being electrically charged. And are believed to be the product of cosmic rays, ones which come from outside of our solar system.
Bhuva stated that we are constantly surrounded by millions of such tiny, subatomic space particles. These can be either muons, pions, neutrons, or space particles. As they flow throughout Earth, they also pass through our bodies. Nonetheless, scientists found no negative impact of their passing on the living tissue. Not yet, at least.
Still, the subatomic space particles do impact the electronic components. More exactly, it is believed that they can alter the data stored in the electronic devices’ memories. They could do so as they interact with the device’s integrated circuits.
Science has even given a name to such events. And it has come to be known as SEU or the single-event upset which alters cyber data.
SEUs were not seen to cause physical damage. And trying to determine their exact timing and location is a mammoth task and hard to achieve. As such, the full effect of these subatomic space particles and the malfunctions they may determine is still unknown.
Still, Bhuva pointed out that they can be mostly anything. An SEU could be either a hardware flaw or a software bug, for example. And its SEU nature can only be determined after ruling out every other possible cause.
During the presentation, he also offered examples for confirmed SEU events. And according to the same presentation, semiconductor manufacturers are getting increasingly more concerned.
They consider that the SEU problem is getting increasingly more serious. This is happening as the computer chip transistor size is shrinking. As such, the SEU risk may be increasing.
The modern society is becoming increasingly more dependent on microelectronic circuits. These are mostly everywhere nowadays.
But the technological advances may somewhat combat the effects of these subatomic space particles. The fact that chips are smaller may help as they will propose a smaller impact surface. And also the 3d architecture used in making them is less susceptible to a potential SEU.
Nonetheless, the consumer electronics developers have started taking protective measures against potential such events.
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