Large Hadron Collider Shuts Down Because Of A Weasel

Small mammal sabotages the world's most powerful scientific instrument


The Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator at Cern has been taken offline…by a weasel….apparently

The poor creature did not survive the encounter with a high-voltage transformer at the site near Geneva in Switzerland.

The LHC was running when an apparent “severe electrical perturbation” occurred in the early hours of Friday morning.

A CERN spokesman said that the weasel did not get into the tunnels, just the electrical facilities.

New Scientist reports: According to internal documents placed online, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN near Geneva has suffered a power outage after the critter chewed on a 66-kilovolt electrical transformer. The unfortunate animal was fried and caused a CERN-wide power cut.

“I can confirm that we had some issues overnight with electrical trouble,” says CERN spokesperson Arnaud Marsollier. “We suspect it might be due to a small animal.”

 It will likely take a few days to bring the collider back online, says Marsollier, but the equipment is fine and should be easily fixed.

The incident is reminiscent of a widely reported story in 2009 that a similar power cut at the LHC was caused by a bird dropping a piece of baguette on a substation, but Marsollier says that was a tall tale. “This was a story that was told, but we never knew exactly what happened,” he says, though as this latest incident demonstrates, it’s not impossible. “We’re in the countryside, you have wild animals.”

Before going offline, the LHC was gearing up to start colliding beams of protons again after a switch-off during the winter months. “We had collisions at low intensity recently, this is all part of the commissioning, we check that everything is working well, that the detectors are ready,” says Marsollier.

Are weasels plotting to stop humanity from unlocking the secrets of the universe?