The moon is known for its ability to impact on our tides, but it has been causing another effect over the last few years – disrupting experiments at the Large Hadron Collider.
The gravitational effect of the moon may be generally weak on our surface, but with the collider stretching out in a ring with a 16mile (27km) circumference, the effects are enough to be felt.
The scientific research facility on the Swiss-French border is picking apart neutrons and electrons while hunting for the elusive Higgs Boson particle, and technician Pauline Gagnon, working on the collider, blogged her surprise when she realised the cause for less ‘particle collisions’ were happening on her shift.
She wrote: ‘The shift crew (about ten people plus dozens of experts on call) must keep the detector running smoothly, tackling every problem, big or small, as fast as possible.
‘Data was coming in at a high rate and all sub-detectors were humming nicely. Not a glitch in hours so we were getting slightly sleepy nearing the end of the shift around 10pm.
‘So when a colleague from the trigger system – the system that decides which events are worth keeping – called to inquire about recurrent splashes of data, I was rather puzzled.
‘I quickly went around, asking a few shifters to check their system. Nobody had a clue.
‘[We measure] how many collisions are happening per second in each experiment from the two beams of protons circulating in opposite direction in the LHC tunnel.’
But on the graphs detecting particle interactions, there were regular dips on both of the Hadron’s two main measuring systems.
Gagnon continued: ‘Since both were registering these dips, it had to be coming from a common source, the LHC.
‘So I called the LHC control room to find out what was happening. “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.”