Don’t Call on Miss Jackson: The 1989 hit song Rhythm Nation can crash certain laptop models because the tune has the same frequency as some hard drives
- Janet Jackson’s 1989 song Rhythm Nation is a security vulnerability because it crashes laptops
- The problem comes from a unique frequency in the song that matches the natural frequency of some older hard drives
- However, the problem is a minor threat as it used to be the case on older models
Janet Jackson’s 1989 hit Rhythm Nation has a funky beat that gets listeners dancing, but the melody contains a unique frequency that crashes some older laptops.
The problem was uncovered by Microsoft’s senior software engineer Raymond Chen on his blog The Old New Thing, where he states that the song’s frequency matches the frequency emitted by the laptop’s hard drive, called the resonant frequency, which is the Natural frequency of an is object.
A laptop crash is similar to glass breaking when exposed to certain sounds – sound released from a source carries the invisible vibration through the air and onto the glass.
The unique frequency in Jackson’s song was discovered by an unnamed “major computer manufacturer” who also saw laptops crashing near the playing computer.
Microsoft has declared Rhythm Nation to be a vulnerability named CVE-2022-38392.
Scroll down for videos
Janet Jackson’s 1989 song Rhythm Nation (pictured) is considered a security vulnerability because it crashes laptops when played
“A colleague of mine shared a story about Windows XP product support. A major computer manufacturer discovered that playing the music video for Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” would crash certain laptop models,” Chen wrote in the blog published Wednesday.
“I wouldn’t have wanted to be in the lab they must have set up to study this problem. No artistic judgement.’
However, the unmanned manufacture found that Jackson’s song also crashed its competitors’ laptops, reports BleepingComputer.
“Playing the music video on one laptop caused a nearby laptop to crash even though the other laptop was not playing the video,” the post reads.
That’s because the song (pictured is a recording from the music video) has the same frequency as some older hard drives
“It turned out that the song contained one of the natural resonant frequencies for the 5400 RPM model of laptop hard drives that they and other manufacturers were using.”
The issue was addressed after the manufacturers added a “custom filter in the audio pipeline that detected and removed the spurious frequencies during audio playback”.
How frequencies shatter glasses, shake buildings and crash laptops
Depending on their size and shape, all objects have natural vibrations that humans do not normally feel, the so-called natural or resonance frequency.
When these objects are subjected to external vibrations or forces at a frequency equal to or close to their natural frequency, these objects often vibrate excessively.
This process, known as resonance, can cause a small vibration to induce a large vibration on a larger object.
A small scale example would be someone breaking a wine glass by singing on just the right note, their resonant frequency.
In buildings or on bridges, this can happen when people synchronize their movements on or within the structures.
And it crashes laptops.
“And I’m sure they put a digital version of a ‘do not remove’ sticker on this audio filter (although I’m concerned that in the many years since the workaround was added, no one remembers why it was there is,” Chen shared with the blog.
“Hopefully their laptops don’t carry this audio filter anymore to protect a hard drive model they no longer use from damage.)”
Not only is frequency known to shatter glass, but just last year it rocked a massive 300-meter skyscraper in China.
On May 18, the SEC Plaza in China’s Futian district of Shenzhen began to sway, forcing residents to evacuate quickly.
Officials were baffled by the event as no earthquakes were detected.
Lu Jianxin, a chief engineer at China Construction Science and Industry Corp, suggested the rare phenomenon was caused by mechanical resonance, which occurs when a structure’s natural vibrations coincide with an external force.
He told Shenzhen Special Zone Daily, “If there were no earthquake today, it would be unusual for SEG Plaza to have such a situation.
“Judging from the information currently available, this could be a random frequency coincidence, i.e. a resonance.”
The local weather report at the time showed wind speeds of 43 km/h, which should not have caused such a problem for the building.
“After reviewing and analyzing data from various earthquake monitoring stations across the city, there was no earthquake in Shenzhen today,” the statement said.
“The cause of the shaking is being checked by different departments.”