The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a modern engineering marvel of great importance to the scientific community. The LHC is the world’s most powerful particle accelerator and it has been beset with obstacles over the course of is construction and during its operational history. Back in 2009, the LHC was damaged when a passing bird dive bombed a piece of bread onto a substation that was used to power the particle collider’s cryogenic systems.
Fast forward to this week and yet another animal has knocked the LHC offline, but this time it was a ground assault instead of an attack from above. Amazingly, a weasel managed to chew on a 66-kilovolt electrical transformer cable and needless to say, the weasel was fried to a crisp. However, the fireworks resulted in a widespread power outage for the LHC.
Cut little bastard
CERN spokesman Arnaud Marsollier confirmed the outage, revealing that CERN “had some issues overnight with electrical trouble” and that they “suspect it might be due to a small animal.”
Before this latest incident, the 17-mile-long $7 billion LHC was preparing to record new data on Higgs Boson, an elementary particle that it found to the glee of scientists everywhere in 2012. Now, site operators will have to wait at least a few weeks before the machine can be brought back online. In fact, Marsollier believes that mid-May is a reasonable estimate for when operations can once again commence.
It’s unfortunate that such a small animal has once again knocked out what is such a large and complex structure, however, it looks as though the weasel just so happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.