Chances are good we’ve all had a Mac, iPhone, or iPad suddenly crash. For Windows PC users it’s the famous Blue Screen of Death. For Apple customers the screen turns black and the Apple logo lights up signaling an unexpected reboot, usually without warning.
The crash came for reasons unknown and then everything went back to normal. What happened?
It’s not gremlins or spirits or an aura created by an employee or family member in the area. What is it? Alien particles from outer space. So says Bharat Bhuva of Vanderbilt University.
This is a really big problem, but it is mostly invisible to the public.
It’s mostly invisible because the particles that flow through space– and through our devices– are everywhere, very small, not easy to detect, but can be measured, and are likely the culprit behind plenty of electronic glitches.
The semiconductor manufacturers are very concerned about this problem because it is getting more serious as the size of the transistors in computer chips shrink and the power and capacity of our digital systems increase,” Bhuva said. “In addition, microelectronic circuits are everywhere and our society is becoming increasingly dependent on them.
It all has to do with radiation and particles from outer space and there effects on increasingly smaller technology. Because they’re smaller, the rate of being struck has decreased, but when struck, more damage can be caused.
Our study confirms that this is a serious and growing problem. This did not come as a surprise. Through our research on radiation effects on electronic circuits developed for military and space applications, we have been anticipating such effects on electronic systems operating in the terrestrial environment.
In other words, scientists have been worried about this phenomenon for a longtime, and as devices become ever smaller and more complex, radiation from outer space can cause more damage and there is no way to protect a device short of 10 feet of cement.
This is a major problem for industry and engineers, but it isn’t something that members of the general public need to worry much about.
Wait. Are we worried? Or, not?
The answer is both yes and no. Yes, but not much. After all, tiny particles from outer space slam through planet earth and its occupants all the time and we’re still here. But the next time your iPhone goes wonky, or your Mac reboots itself for no reason but doesn’t do it again ever, we know the culprit.
Alien particles from outer space.
And the next time you forget where you put your keys or iPhone, or forget an anniversary, or can’t remember why you walked down the hall, blame it on alien particles from outer space.
It’s not your fault. It’s the universe messing with your head.