It Only Took One Weasel to Shut Down the World’s Most Powerful Particle Collider

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Photo: Cern

CERN’s Large Hadron Collider is the largest and strongest particle collider in the world. It’s worth $7 billion. The beech marten is not even the biggest member of the family Mustelidae. And yet, early Friday morning, the LHC suffered a “severe electrical perturbation” after a beech marten (tiny European weasel) chewed through a cable.

Or as LHC’s daily summary put it, “Not the best week for LHC!”

Instead of conducting further research on the Higgs boson particle (it’s important, Google it!), the LHC had to be shut down and it will be weeks before the collider can be fired up again, CERN’s head of press Arnaud Marsollier told NPR.

But perhaps sadder than the stunting of groundbreaking research is that the marten’s vandalism got him killed. (An earlier report from NPR said that CERN had yet to examine “the remains,” so we’re taking that as bad news for the little guy.)

Fellow weasels take note.