Janet Jackson’s 1989 mega-hit ‘Rhythm Nation’ sonically smashes old hard drives

The “brown noise” is a legendary sound that is said to cause people to lose control of their gut when exposed to its harmonic resonance. South Park did a whole thing on it. It turns out that the 5400 RPM hard drives of some old Windows-era laptops have their own brown flavor: Janet Jackson’s 1989 megahit “Rhythm Nation.”

According to Microsoft Software Engineer Raymond Chen, who narrated the story in a Microsoft developer blog Post earlier this week, a major computer manufacturer “discovered” that playing the music video (above) would not only crash the hard drive of the laptop it was running on, but every other similar model within earshot as well.

Miter Corporation was not amused by this newly discovered vulnerability and entered it in the CVE database. After a thorough investigation, the device manufacturer confirmed that the song contained one of the natural resonant frequencies of the hard drives playing the song, essentially shaking the devices apart. According to Chen, instead of recalling countless decades-old drives, the manufacturer instead chose to develop a workaround by “inserting a custom filter into the audio pipeline that detected and removed the interfering frequencies during audio playback.”

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Russell Falcon

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