Supernova Helps Politician Win an Election

In the latest Contemporary Science Review segment, Real Science Radio host Fred Williams is joined by Daniel Hedrick where they immerse themselves in the cosmic ray phenomenon that has changed elections, plunged commercial airlines, and altered video game outcomes. The RSR duo review a video from the popular Veritasium YouTube Channel titled “Is the Universe Hostile to Computers”. A politician in Belgium found herself elected despite the mathematical impossibility based on the number of votes cast. The election officials noticed a sudden jump in votes by 4096 for the lucky candidate, but that number was awfully suspicious. To a computer engineer, the number is quickly recognized as exactly 4k or 1000 hexadecimal bytes, or in binary the number 0001000000000000. A single bit flip in the 13th position added 4k to the candidate's vote total. Scientists eventually determined that the bit-flip was likely caused by cosmic rays which originated from a supernova. Fred and Daniel discuss how engineers mitigate such problems caused by cosmic radiation, then marvel at God's creative design via the cell's quality control system that is far superior than what man could ever dream of coming up with. The duo wrap up the show by considering the theological implications and why harmful radiation exists such that our quality control systems need to kick in on a regular basis.