It has been recently discovered that the Helium gas plays funny with Apple products. A system administrator at Morris Hospital in Illinois stated that helium gas tinkers with the way your iPhone and Apple Watch devices operate and eventually killing them off. Android devices, on the other hand, are prone to the gas and does not feature any sort of side effects. So what is in the iPhone and Apple Watch that crashes them completely when exposed to helium. Let's find out.
iPhone And Apple Watch Exposed To Helium Will Impair Its Functionality
Upon installation of the MRI machine at the Morris Hospital, the system administrator Eric Woolridge received a plethora of phone calls from the medical staff that their iPhones were not working properly. At that time, the reasons for it were not identified. Initially, Woolridge presumed that it had something to do with the EMP pulse generated by the MRI machine. However, other devices and computers were not affected by the issue so the presumed notion was ruled out.
Almost 40 Apple products were affected, which included the iPhone, Apple Watch and iPads. The devices would not connect properly to the mobile network and also showed issues while charging. In addition to this, some devices even refused to start.
It was later discovered that the source of the problem was helium which was leaking from the vents. Helium is used to cool the MRI machine with giant magnets. The gas was supposed to make its way out through the exhaust vent. Almost 120 liters of gas was leaked which spread to other parts of the hospital. After discussions on Reddit, Woolridge confirmed the theory by placing an iPhone 8 Plus in a sealed bag filled with helium. After about 8 minutes, the iPhone stopped working. Here's how a Redditor explains it:
It’s definitely the helium.
The processor in a modern, high volume device typically has its main clock driven by what’s known as a MEMS oscillator. These are barely visible mechanical systems that resonate at some designed frequency, and include packaging to convert this resonance into a useful electrical clock signal. These devices are extraordinarily cheap ways to produce a steady clock, but they have a number of drawbacks. Most relevant, in order for these types of devices to function properly, the mechanical resonator must be inside a tiny hermetically sealed chamber with either a controlled gas inside or a vacuum, as the gas composition in the chamber can affect the output frequency.
For both cost and physics reasons, these hermetic seals are not perfect, and are somewhat commonly permeable to small atomic gasses such as helium.
Apart from this, here's why other Android devices are not affected by helium:
For this specific case, Apple devices probably share a common family of MEMS resonator to reduce manufacturing costs. This clock likely leaks in helium rich atmospheres, pushing the output frequency outside of the bounds that the main processors are designed to handle, rendering them non-functional. If left idle long enough, the devices may begin to function again, but depending on the concentration of helium which leaked in, this could take anywhere from weeks to years to occur in natural atmosphere and temperatures.
Apple in its user guide for the iPhone and Apple Watch has also explained the consequences.
Exposing iPhone to environments having high concentrations of industrial chemicals, including near evaporating liquified gasses such as helium, may damage or impair iPhone functionality.
So it would be advised to keep your devices away from Helium. There will be more to the story, so be sure to stay tuned in for more details. This is all for now, folks. What are your thoughts on the subject? Let us know in the comments.
News Source: iFixit