Weasel takes the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, offline

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.

Sources: Phys, NPR, NewScientist

9 thoughts on “Weasel Shuts Down World’s Most Powerful Particle Accelerator

  1. Amazing. I wonder why they assume it was a weasel, as it seems they didn’t actually see it. It gives one pause to think such an important piece of machinery isn’t housed in some sort of hermetically-sealed vault! But I suppose critters do get in, no matter how hard you may try to prevent it.

  2. What about a large rat (and they do get big)? They are well known for chewing electrical wires and “charred remains” of what they think is a weasel would resemble those of a charred rat.

    Of course the idea that a rat would be there chewing things is nastier than a weasel. Certainly, there is more food around in buildings for a rat than there is for a weasel, unless there are colonies of rodents upon which to feed. Hmm. Not sure which is a worse idea.

    I went to the source article and then to the “official briefing document” and there was only a short, 11-word declaration on page 11 (“fouine” was the exact word), but haven’t found any information saying the charred “remains” were actually analyzed, but clearly they are done investigating.

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