The world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, went offline overnight following a weasel gnawed through a 66-kilovolt power cable.
Engineers who conducted a thorough analysis of the charred remains believed the creature was probably a weasel. “We had electrical problems, and we are pretty sure this was caused by a small animal,” CERN spokesperson Arnaud Marsollier told NPR. He said the equipment is fine and should be easily fixed, but bringing a 17-mile superconductor designed to smash atoms together at close to the speed of light, back online will likely take a few days.
This is not the first time the LHC has suffered power outage. In 2009, similar incident took place after a bird dropped a piece of baguette on a substation.
“This was a story that was told, but we never knew exactly what happened, though as this latest incident demonstrates, it’s not impossible,” Marsollier told New Scientist. “We’re in the countryside, you have wild animals.”
The LHC was used to prove the existence of the Higgs Boson, also known as the God particle, by crashing proton beams at velocities near the speed of light. Unfortunately, the LHC went offline when it was preparing to collect data on the Higgs Boson, a fundamental particle which discovery earned the Nobel physics prize in 2013.