A very powerful voice can break the crystal. Many voices – especially among modern singers – can break eardrums. But we never would have thought that a singer’s voice could break a hard drive. And instead, this is the curious news unveiled by Microsoft’s software engineer, Raymond Chen.
The voice in question is that, splendid, of Janet Jackson. The late Michael’s sister launched the hit single Rhythm Nation in 1989. Nothing in particular to report, except that more than a decade later a lab technician contacts Microsoft’s customer service – the operating system in vogue was Windows XP – with a strange story.
While working on repairing and installing the operating system, the 5400-rpm hard drive of the computer in question fails. Nothing strange here either. Much stranger is the fact that another notebook also crashes at the same time. And still others the following days. There is one constant: at the time of the breakdowns, the technician was listening to Rhythm Nation from his personal laptop.
The technician contacts, as mentioned, the Microsoft support service. And after a few days the confirmation: it is Janet Jackson’s voice, transmitted from her PC, to cause the hard drives to fail.
It is the same principle that some singers can break glasses with a high pitch
The fault, if we want to call it that, is the resonancethat is the phenomenon whereby the amplitude of the oscillations induced in an oscillating system (mechanical or electrical) tends, in particular conditions, to be enhanced.
Wanting to simplify a very broad concept, Janet Jackson’s voice in that song contains a frequency equal to the natural resonant frequency of the hard drive. Because of this, the resonance is enhanced, thus causing the hard disks to vibrate too much which, due to these anomalous vibrations, break.
From a physical point of view, it is the same principle by which a singer with a high pitch can break a glass or a crystal: when a sound wave contains a frequency that is that of the natural resonance of the glass it hits a glass, for example, the object begins to vibrate until it breaks.
The curious story then had a positive ending: the manufacturer of the “guilty” notebook informed of the problem – the brand is not specified – has implemented a filter that cuts the frequencies reachable by the audio of its laptopsbefore you get to those harmful to hard drives.