Laptop, cell phone, tablet freeze up? Blame alien particles from outer space

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--The next time your phone, laptop, tablet freeze up, blame alien particles from outer space.

That's according to research from Bharat Bhuva, a member of Vanderbilt University's Radiation Effects Research Group, the largest group in the U.S. that studies the effects of radiation's effects on electronic systems.

During a presentation in Boston on Friday and published on the Vanderbilt University Research site, Bhuva explained these alien particles are generated cosmic rays outside our solar system that enter our atmosphere and break down into secondary particles. Bhuva says millions of these subatomic particles actually strike our body each second and while there are no known harmful effects to humans, they can cause big problems for your electronics.

Bhuva says though only a fraction of these particles carry enough energy to interfere with your electronics, they do so at a higher rate than expected.

For example, Bhuva cites a 2004 study that found a simple cell phone should only have one error every 28 years. Internet providers with only 25 gigs of memory should experience one network error interrupting operation every 17 hours.

These particles has been associated with even affecting aircraft systems.

The good news says Bhuva is as our technology gets smaller, the impact of these particles is diminishing since they are smaller targets. However, larger electronic systems are still at risk and can pose a major problem. Bhuva says most industries have taken steps to protect components, but it's the consumer electronics sector that still has work to do.


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