The World Forum - July 24th, 2024

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Microsoft Says A Frequency In Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” Made Laptops Crash


Janet Jackson’s 1989 hit “Rhythm Nation” was a pop game-changer — a cutting-edge smash that incorporated the militaristic clatter of industrial music and Public Enemy in the context of a towering, anthemic hit song. But “Rhythm Nation” apparently had other effects, which are just now becoming obvious to the general public. The “Rhythm Nation” video, it turns out, had the power to crash certain laptops.

The Next Web points out a recent story from Raymond Chen, the chief software engineer at Microsoft. Chen writes that Windows XP product support once discovered that the company had learned that older Windows XP laptops would crash when they played the “Rhythm Nation” video. Sometimes, that video would also cause other laptops, from companies other than Microsoft, to crash. There was also one instance in which a nearby laptop crashed, even though it wasn’t the one playing the “Rhythm Nation” video.

Chen writes that the engineers figured out the problem: “Rhythm Nation” included “one of the natural resonant frequencies for the model of 5400 rpm laptop hard drives that they and other manufacturers used.” The sounds from the song and the laptop vibrated at the same frequency, causing a phenomenon known as vibration resonance. Microsoft solved the problem by “adding a custom filter in the audio pipeline that detected and removed the offending frequencies during audio playback.”