With Congress expressing so much concern about Russian interference in the 2016 election, it’s surprising to read the U. S. Senate turned down a proposal to spend additional money to secure our voting system. Certainly, we have fallen behind in maintaining both it and the national grid. A third grid is equally vulnerable, the space clock or Global Positioning System. (GPS) All things computer reply upon it.
GPS isn’t one clock, actually, but many, each measuring time by “tracking how often the electrons at their cores jump from one energy state to another” (“Screwed in a Millisecond,” by Paul Tillis, Bloomberg Businessweek, July 30, 2018, pg. 50.) Once these clocks compare readings, they send “time” back to earth.
A person doesn’t need an active imagination to see how vital this clock is to the nation and to the world. Banks depend on it, as well as airlines, emergency services, the telecommunications industry , broadcasters and your smart phone, to name a few. The setup is remarkably fragile, vital as it is, and subject to interruptions by solar flares, space debris, foreign governments and mischievous individuals. When China blew up one of its faulty satellites a while ago, proving it could be done, governments grew nervous. That Iran and North Korea may have “satellite busting weaponry,” doesn’t give missile defense systems much reason to relax, either. (Ibid pg. 51.)
With GPS so susceptible, one would hope our government has a backup plan. It doesn’t. (Ibid pg. 52) A surprising fact, since there have been 50,000 attempts to jam the system in the past two years. (Ibid pg. 51.)
Information like this should give a reasonable person insomnia. But if that person were to fall asleep, a solar flare might provide some extra shuteye.