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Suppose you design an experiment where you need to minimize the effects of tidal forces. Where would you go? There are a few possibilities, and the choice depends on how much effort you are willing to make. My reasoning goes like this:

  • Maximize the distance from any centers of masses, i.e.

    • Climb Mount Everest
    • Go in Low Earth Orbit
    • Go in even higher orbits
  • Use properties of a many-body system where the gravitational field has a minimum

    • Equilibrium point between Earth and Moon
    • Other Lagrange Points of the Earth/Moon system (Are they better, i.e. have a lower delta a/delta x?)

I can think of more places farther out, like where the Jovian Trojans orbit the Sun. Of course, the further away from the Sun you get, the better. But maybe there are closer spots I have overseen where tidal forces are extremely low.

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Do you want to minimize the forces themselves or their effects? And in either case, how do you define both? Tidal forces are usually quantified only relatively to some "normal gravitational forces". That's needed when we calculate tides on the ocean. But away from the ocean, the same forces are pretty much irrelevant - they have no noticeable effect in the Himalayas. At any place, the effect of tidal and any other gravitational forces may also be canceled by inertia, i.e. by an appropriate motion. – LuboŇ° Motl Sep 26 '12 at 11:12
I'd like to minimize forces (=accelerations). Think of 8 unconnected particles at the corners of a unit cube. Tidal forces distort this geometry over time, which is what I seek to avoid. – Jens Sep 26 '12 at 11:49
Robert Forward wrote an essay on canceling residual gravitational effects in Earth orbit. No link but you can probably find it if you search. He used some of the same tricks in a fictional context in Dragon's Egg. – dmckee Sep 26 '12 at 12:36
Gravitational tidal effects are real at the LHC… – anna v Dec 4 '12 at 16:06

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