Fun with CDs at high speeds.

We’ve all heard the stories about how some of the higher speed CD-ROM drives these days will sometimes cause a slightly faulty CD to explode inside the drive and that has prompted many to wonder: How fast is too fast?

Driven by the same sense of scientific curiosity and total lack of concern for bodily harm that pushed Benjamin Franklin to fly a kite in stormy weather these guys from PowerLabs decided to find out.

Have you ever loaded a faulty CD into a high speed (30X or higher) CD-ROM player, heard it spin up to incredible speeds, rattling and whining, and thought to yourself: “this thing is going to explode”? When CDs came out they were heralded as the solution for the need for high storage-high speed information devices, transferring data at a whopping 150kb/s, but like all technologies, 1x CD players quickly became obsolete as the need for higher and higher transfer rates pushed for faster players, and, with them, higher rotational speeds. As we advance into the 21st century CD players are reaching the ultimate speed limit: we are getting to the point where the CD player simply can not spin the CD any faster or else the CD will literally fly apart.

On the interests of the advancement of high speed computing PowerLabs brings to you:

In the end the guys really didn’t answer the question of what the upper limit was, but they DID have a good time launching CDs across their dorm room spinning at a rate close to 35,000 RPMs and videotaping the resulting chaos.

In case you were wondering, if you translate that speed into miles-per-hour then the outer edge of a CD would be moving at roughly 492 MPH and would have stored up around 150 Joules of energy. In short, don’t get in its way. Who says science can’t be fun?

Link found via Ars Technica.

1 thought on “Fun with CDs at high speeds.

  1. Oh yes! This is right up there with the guy lighting his grill with liquid oxygen, the guy making lightning and plasma balls in the microwave, and of course, potato cannons. People aren’t happy about incendiary stuff these days, so the high speed destruction of CD’s is perfect home science for the 21st century!

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