Weasel accident shuts down world’s largest particle collider
Electrical problems forced a suspension of operations at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland on Thursday night.
Engineers investigating an electrical failure at the 17-mile supercollider found “the charred remains of a furry creature near a gnawed-through power cable.”
“We had electrical problems, and we are pretty sure this was caused by a small animal, a weasel, probably,” said Arnaud Marsollier — head of press for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Organisation européenne pour la recherche nucléaire or CERN) — to NPR.
The shutdown comes just as the LHC was preparing to collect new data on the Higgs-Boson particle, which the research group discovered in 2012.
“The Higgs is believed to endow other particles with mass,” NPR said, “and it is considered to be a cornerstone of the modern theory of particle physics.”
Repairs will take a couple of days, Marsollier said, but it will take time to bring the collider back up to proton-smashing readiness.
“It may be mid-May,” he said.
Because the collider is located in the countryside, animal mishaps are not unheard-of. In 2009, operations were disrupted when a bird dropped a purloined baguette into the collider’s workings