Janet Jackson’s music has power to crash laptops

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Microsoft has said award winning Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation video has the power to crash laptops.

The music video with its foggy noir-like style won it numerous accolades, including a Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video.

According to Microsoft, not only does the music video have the power to crash laptop it was playing on, it can crash those that it was not play on.

The company’s principal software engineer, Raymond Chen, said a colleague had recently shared a story with him from the days of providing product support for Windows XP.

“A major computer manufacturer discovered that playing the music video for Janet Jackson’s ‘Rhythm Nation’ would crash certain models of laptops,” wrote Mr Chen.

It was not just this manufacturer either. The investigation found that playing the music video also caused some of their competitors’ laptops to crash.

It didn’t even have to be the laptop that the music video was playing on. Simply playing the music video on one laptop could cause another close by to crash.

“It turns out that the song contained one of the natural resonant frequencies for the model of 5400 rpm laptop hard drives that they and other manufacturers used,” explained Chen.

The issue was similar to an opera singer being able to shatter a glass by singing a particular tone.

Because sounds are simply acoustic waves, there is a wavelength or frequency for each material that can create the most vibration, known as the medium’s resonant frequency.

Mitre describes the issue as a security vulnerability which could allow an attacker to force the system to crash using the audio signal from the Rhythm Nation music video.

Thankfully laptops today won’t suffer from the same issue – Microsoft says the manufacturer added “a custom filter in the audio pipeline that detected and removed the offending frequencies during audio playback”.

Janet Jackson

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