Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lunar tide warps CERN's Large Hadron Collider

Watch out for that moon! Cross section of CERN's Large Hadron Collider, which contorts once a month.

Mark Halper

According to the website Talking Points Memo, the gravitational pull of a recent full moon tugged on one side of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Geneva more than on the other, “ever so slightly deforming the tunnel through which the proton beams pass.”

But never fear. This seems to have happened before, and CERN’s astute operators were on the case.

    “In order to keep the proton beams on track, the operator at the LHC’s control center had to subtly alter the direction of the proton beams to accomodate the Moon’s pull, ‘every hour or two,’ ” writes TPM’s Carl Franzen.

This all came to light because scientist Pauline Gagnon  from the University of Indiana had noticed an anomaly in her data while conducting an experiment at the LHC.  So she called the control room, and as she recalls in a blog post,

    “Oh, those dips?”, casually answered the operator on shift. “That’s because the moon is nearly full and I periodically have to adjust the proton beam orbits.”

    “The LHC is such a sensitive apparatus, it can detect the minute deformations created by the small differences in the gravitational force across its diameter. The effect is of course largest when the moon is full.”

CERN is using its $9 billion contraption to mimic conditions just after the Big Bang, and to try to find the elusive Higgs Boson many believe serves as the capstone to the Standard Model of Physics.

Read the article, HERE.

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