The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is arguably the largest, most complicated machine humanity has ever built. Housed at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, the LHC is miles of tubing, mountains of wiring, and literally tons of magnets all coordinated in an effort to smash atomic particles into each other at close to the speed of light. The scope of its mission — to discover the underpinnings of reality itself — almost defies understanding. Unless you’re a weasel. Then all the LHC is just one tasty electrical wire from collapse.
The BBC is reporting that earlier this morning, a weasel got into the electrical systems of the LHC — there are a lot of them along the 17-mile path particles take — and caused a “severe electrical perturbation.” In other words, the weasel’s body was the path of least resistance after it chowed down on a wire. The weasel’s dastardly sacrifice was successful however, as officials at the LHC now say the atom smasher won’t be up and running again until perhaps mid-May.
As NPR notes, this isn’t the first time animals have rallied in defense of the universe’s secrets. In 2009, a bird apparently dropped a baguette onto critical electrical systems, which caused another electrical short. There is no word on whether the gluten-shelling in question was part of a coordinated effort to prevent a mini black hole from forming inside the LHC.
A CERN spokesman told the BBC that weasel/bird/animal impedance will occur from time to time. The facility is in the countryside, after all, a stronghold for guerilla weasels.