Monday, October 19th, 2009

Dremel User Allegedly Proves CD-ROM Speed Limit

October 12, 2009 by Rico Mossesgeld  
Filed under Removable Media, Storage

My only experience with a fast-spinning CD threatening to cause damage was when I repeatedly pushed the eject button of a (CD-only, this was at least 7 years ago) optical drive that seemed unwilling to spit out my media. Then suddenly for some reason, the tray extended, and before I knew it, the CD—still spinning at top speed—actually flew upwards! I swear this anecdote is true!

Courtesy PowerLabs.org

Courtesy PowerLabs.org

In any case, a recent experiment theorizes that spinning a CD way faster than 56 times a second (or 56x, I assume) carries its own set of dangers. According to the experimenter, going above that speed magnifies the tiniest imperfection on a CD, potentially causing enough wobbling to damage the rotating mechanism. So of course he decided to test a CD with a Dremel, running it at over 35000 RPM. At those speeds, the edge of CD moves at nearly 800 kilometers per hour! (Or 792 kph, to be exact).

So what happened when a Dremel took a CD for a spin? Well, “the CD hummed and whined in a very menacing manner”. Scary, but it still took “quick jerk at the tool” to make the CD a projectile. Experimenting dude recounts what came next:

…the CD slid out of the holder and contacted the carpet whilst spinning at ungodly speeds. It peeled out a bit in front of me and proceeded to make its way to the door at a very high speed. On contacting the closed door, the CD did a most unexpected thing: it first bounced back a few inches, and then, when it hit the door again, it jumped straight up the door and struck the ceiling, exploding into thousands of fragments which rained down on the entire room. This first experiment was unfortunately not videoed, but it served to get everyone in the room to put glasses on and cower away behind pieces of furniture, whilst people in the hall corridor quickly made their way to my door to ask what was going on.

In other words, spin a CD-ROM really really quickly, launch into a hard surface, and you’ll get a pretty wicked disc that potentially creates deadly shrapnel. The experiment page (link below) contains multiple videos for download, if only to satisfy your visual curiosity and help you resist the temptation to try this at home.

PowerLabs High Speed CD-Rom Experiments

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