R&B singer Janet Jackson has considerable star power, but did you know that one of her 1989 songs may have been the culprit for laptop crashes in the past? The phenomenon was described in a blog post earlier this month by Raymond Chen, the principal software developer at Microsoft.
“The song contained one of the natural resonant frequencies for the model of 5400 rpm laptop hard drives that they and other manufacturers used,” he wrote on August 16 in reference to the song “Rhythm Nation.” Similar to how glass shatters when exposed to particular pitches, Chen claims that the frequency causes laptops to crash after playing the audio.
“The manufacturer worked around the problem by adding a custom filter in the audio pipeline that detected and removed the offending frequencies during audio playback,” He continued, explaining how a solution was made, before making a joke, “I would not have wanted to be in the laboratory that they must have set up to investigate this problem. Not an artistic judgement.”
Chen concluded by expressing his hope that “laptops are not still carrying this audio filter to protect against damage to a model of hard drive they are no longer using.”