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Melting iPod halts rush-hour train

Passengers on a Tokyo train smell burning. The train is halted. Is the train on fire? Not quite. The cause is a melting iPod.

Please think very carefully.

You're on a rush-hour train. You smell something burning. What is your automatic thought?

That the brakes were made in England? That you're soon going to smell something sweet and weedy wafting through the train? Or that someone's been listening to the Crazy World of Arthur Brown (embedded here, in case it has somehow passed you by) on their iPod a little too loud?

If the last is your immediate thought, then you would be closest to events on a rush-hour train in Western Tokyo.

According to Reuters, the train was crowded when a disturbingly smoky smell drifted into the noses of one too many passengers. Because Japan's railway system is very responsible, the train was stopped for eight minutes while uniformed people tried to discover the source of the burning.

A spokesman for Tokyu Corp. explained to Reuters how the source was located: "When a member of staff went to investigate inside the train, a passenger came over showing him that the iPod she was listening to had burst apart."

It's not entirely clear what sort of iPod happened to cause this infernal stink. The Japanese trade ministry suggested that there have been 60 instances of overheating iPods in the country, including four that caused minor burns. (Apple has blamed such incidents on a supplier of its batteries.)

There have also been instances in the U.S. where iPods may have become a little too hot too. In Ohio, for example, Apple is being sued by the mother of a 15-year-old boy who claims his 16GB iPod Touch exploded in his pants.

Thinking about the case of the Japanese train, however, my mind gets warm. Why didn't those passengers nearest the lady with the melting iPod immediately turn to her to suggest that perhaps some small part of her might be aflame? I mean, if you sense that the person next to you might be about to catch fire, don't you turn around and tell them?

Please think carefully.