The Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland does exactly what is says on the tin – it’s a machine that spins minuscule particles around a circuit at high speeds until they collide, to investigate sub-atomic particle physics. When the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was switched on in 2008, the entire world seemed terrified of the concept. Despite other successful experiments having been run around the world, there was mass panic about a gigantic black hole swallowing the Earth… Or apparently not.
The LHC has since been subject to some incredible discoveries, not least the discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle in 2012, which proved numerous scientific theories, but it has also faced a few very embarrassing total shut-downs over the course of its existence.
It isn’t surprising – given its location in the Swiss countryside – that animals occasionally interfere with the normal smooth-running of the LHC. Running was interrupted due to a fault reported as a ‘severe electrical perturbation’ at 5:30am on the 29th April which was later confirmed to be a weasel breaking into the electrical facilities. The animal did not survive its inquisitive foray into the LHC, unfortunately.
“The scientists at the collider will have to wait until mid-to-late May to resume their work whilst the weasel-induced damage is repaired”
Having made its way into a 66kV transformer and damaging the connections, the marten, a member of the weasel family caused damage which took days to repair. The damage occurred as the team at the LHC were collecting further data on the Higgs Boson particle. Unfortunately, the scientists at the collider will have to wait until mid-to-late May to resume their work whilst the weasel-induced damage is repaired.
This is not the first time an animal has stood in the way of science; in 2009 the LHC was taken out by a bird dropping a baguette into the machinery (no word of a lie), although no remains were found. Sometimes, humans stand in the way of scientific progress, but it also seems that sometimes the biggest obstacle to science can be a tiny little critter.