A particle accelerator “smelled” the concert of a metal band

Rammstein pulls out all the stops during his concerts, and the DESY researchers were in the front row to attest to this!

This weekend, the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY), a prestigious German research center that works on the structure of matter, had a funny surprise; for a few tens of minutes, some sensors got completely carried away. A situation that puzzled researchers until they finally determined its origin: it was in fact a concert by the metal band Rammstein.

“Könnt ihr mich hören?” (Do you hear me ?), asks the chorus of a famous song of the group. And on the DESY side, the answer is clearly “Yes”! “Hello Ramstein! You have “rocked” our particle accelerator!”, announced the researchers on Twitter. They have also published a graph that illustrates the data in question. “Our seismic surveys have never been so extreme this year”, they have fun.

No impact on throttle operation

Particle accelerators are extremely delicate machines that allow researchers to study the behavior of the fundamental particles of matter. And to study these infinitely small objects and the phenomena involved, it is obviously necessary to have extreme precision.

So extreme, in fact, that the slightest external disturbance would immediately distort all measurements. Ideally, therefore, accelerators should be completely isolated from all external forces, whether mechanical or electromagnetic. Unfortunately, there is no escaping it completely.

But that doesn’t stop researchers from getting actionable results. In fact, particle accelerators are full of external sensors which make it possible to precisely measure the impact of all the elements liable to disturb the analyses. Operators can then take this into account to “clean” the data produced during the experiments.

For this reason, all particle accelerators, including those at DESY, are equipped with extremely sensitive seismometers. As a general rule, they make it possible to detect micro-earthquakes likely to have an impact on the measurements. But in this specific case, the vibrations measured were not of geological origin.

The researchers were indeed able to determine that the peaks observed on the graph came directly from the concert, two kilometers away! They were generated both by the music itself, the trepidation of the audience, and perhaps even by certain pyrotechnic explosions which are an integral part of Rammstein’s concerts.

Fortunately, even if they were detected by the seismometer, these vibrations did not disturb the proper functioning of the particle accelerator. The researchers just wanted to share a funny anecdote, and it was in no way a criticism of the group. DESY is therefore continuing its work normally. It only remains to hope that a doctoral student in need of a thesis subject tries to reconstruct the list of songs from these readings!