Keep this in mind the next time you visit a hospital – don’t expose your iPhone to an MRI machine. Turns out, the helium in them bricks the handset completely.
This unusual discovery was made after a month-long investigation into a mysterious case where over 40 iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches died randomly in a Chicago hospital. This happened while a new MRI machine was being installed. At first, System Specialist Erik Wooldridge figured an electromagnetic pulse was to blame, but no other electronic equipment was malfunctioning.
iPhone Mystery Resolved
Even Android phones were safe, leaving only the Apple products dead and unable to charge. The few that were alive had problems with connecting to cellular data. Wooldridge decided to share this mystery on Reddit. Users suggested liquid helium in the MRI machine was to blame. He decided to investigate and found out that there had been a massive helium leak in the hospital that day.
The entire building got filled with gaseous helium for over 5 hours. Eventually, the iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches started coming back to life, but not fully. Some had severe service issues, while the touch screen wasn’t working on others.
Apple is actually aware of this allergy to helium. If you venture inside the iPhone user guide, you’ll find a paragraph warning that helium can damage or impair functionality. If your iPhone gets exposed to the gas and doesn’t turn on, you have to air it out for a week and keep it away from charging.
After the helium’s gone and the battery is discharged, you’re free to plug in the iPhone and charge it for an hour. Only then can you try powering it back on. This doesn’t explain why only Apple devices were affected by the leak though.
iFixit has a theory – Apple uses a special type of MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) timing oscillators which is smaller than regular quartz oscillators found in most Android phones. All devices have MEMS since they’re the base on which gyroscopes and accelerometers are built.
But because the iPhone’s MEMS are extra tiny, they allowed helium gas to pass through and wreak havoc. Android devices are immune this their circuitry isn’t as minuscule.