Under Earth’s protective magnetic field, we don’t usually need to worry too much about the health effects of cosmic radiation – although it’s something that’s known to impact astronauts in space, and even passengers travelling in airplanes.
But the same can’t be said for our technological systems – fierce solar storms can wreak havoc on Earth’s communication networks, and new research shows that even ordinary levels of cosmic radiation can have a disruptive effect on our personal devices.
Most of the time, such a disruption probably wouldn’t create much of a problem. An app running on your smartphone or PC might glitch somehow, making a miscalculation, but it’s probably not something you’ll even notice. In some cases, these disruptions could be more drastic. In 2003, a ‘bit flip’ in a Belgian electronic voting machine gave one candidate in the election an extra 4,096 votes, before the mistake was caught. Even more worrying – the avionics system of a Qantas passenger jet malfunctioned due to a suspected SEU in 2008, forcing the aircraft into an abrupt dive that injured about a third of the passengers on board (1).
A particle costing a life.
A life being born from a particle.
Universe ridiculing life.
Universe praising life.
But could life be unimportant?
Could life be important?
What if there was another answer?
An answer which negated both questions?
Seek the meaning of life and death in irony.
It is not the words or conscious thought the ones who will guide you.
It is the music. During an Aeschylus tragedy…