Originally Posted by TheNauticalAlmanac
You can find a forum about Celestial Navigation here;
Must be quite a new site, but I registered. GPS may help keep numbers down. But one good solar storm and GPS and all computers without error correcting code will be history, at least for awhile. I like the idea of functioning without electricity (or satellites) if necessary.
Thank you for posting the link!
For those who may not know. Error correcting code (EEC) was used back when memory was very expensive, when it was realized that radiation, cosmic rays, whatever could change the charge on a transistor. Positive or negative charge means a one or a zero. That's why computers use base 2 binary numbers, positive and negative.
If you change the charge you change the number and corrupt the information. While I don't pretend to fully understand how it works, EEC added a number at the end of each string to say if the total was odd or even. If it changed, there was a flag that the info was corrupt. Not sure how that could be corrected, but you can see how that would protect you from assuming all was well.
Jump ahead in time. Transistors are now unbelievably small, so it is easier for a charged particle to affect them. But cheap out, EEC was discontinued for normal use (not NASA or other important stuff) - consumer use. That helps explain the crashes etc.
Meanwhile, RAM has become super cheap and adding a few bytes would contribute little to costs. But we still don't have EEC on normal SDRAM, even though adding it would cost little.
We have been going through an unusually quiet solar storm period, at the same time computers have exploded and now control our automobiles and almost everything else.
As the sun is quieting down (ice age here we come) we are having no problems. BUT............
In the 1800's there was a storm so strong that telegraphs worked even if disconnected from the batteries (induction). I think I've even read that paper caught fire.
If a strong storm happened now (it will eventually) I'm not sure how our unprotected electronics and non-EEC computer RAM will survive. If you are at sea, or even if a lightning strike or water contamination destroys your electronics it would be nice to have a basic understanding of celestial navigation as used for hundreds of years.