cosmic rays

The subatomic particles pouring down from the extraterrestrial world is triggering the havoc of electronic devices on the earth, resulting in multiple unexpected electrical interferences, unveiled a new scientific study.

Irrespective of brand and model, you sometimes might have encountered technical and software glitches in a smartphone, laptop, computer or other personal electronic devices. While usually, people think such anomalies to be attributable to poor quality and faulty arrangements, but the fact is something else, something that no one might have expected – the “cosmic rays.”

A new scientific research, done by an international team of scientists has alleged the cosmic waves to be the real cause behind the interference of electronic devices like mobile, PC, laptop, smart wearable, and so on. Earlier, the cosmic radiations are only known for affecting the onboard astronauts in space and passengers, travelling on the air. But no one has ever thought that the far-flung cosmic radiations can also hamper lives and activities on earth.

According to the study, conducted by the researchers from the Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, the cosmic rays, raining down from the universe are likely to trigger the chaos on your smartphones, PCs, Laptops, and other personal electronic devices. When the smartphone screen freezes or your computer crashes or your PC goes through a lengthy time-consuming procedure of a rebooting, the cause is not poor servicing or network issues; but they are most likely to be due to the cosmic waves, coming from the outer space.

The study was led by Bharat Bhuva, professor of electrical engineering at Vanderbilt University in the US and his colleagues. For getting the accurate aftermath of this hypothesis, the research team took 16-nanometre computer chips – the chips that are being used in most of the modern consumer PCs – and uncovered them to a neutron radiation, just to record the consequences of cosmic radiation’s infiltration to earth’s atmosphere. And the aftermath was truly unforeseen!

According to lead author, the collision of cosmic rays into the geomagnetic field of Earth pours thousands of secondary atoms including bouncing neutrons, muons, and pions. Millions of such molecules strike human bodies each second, but they don’t affect the health much. But surprisingly, they are capable of interfacing with the function of microelectronic circuitry, resulting in the anomalies in electronic devices like smartphone, PCs, computer, and so on. In author’s word, when the secondary atoms interact with integrated microelectronic circuits, they alter or ‘flip’ into individual bits of data, saved in memory, causing the unexpected breach – a phenomenon is dubbed as a single-event upset (SEU).

However, most of the time the impact of cosmic rays on smartphones and laptops remains unnoticed as they never stay for more than a moment. However, you may notice some malfunctions and faults in apps and software, installed on your device. But in some harsh cases, SEUs can have extreme and potentially devastating consequences.

The complete details of the study were presented at the annual assembly of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston last Friday.