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Tiny Rodent Shut Down World’s Largest, Most Powerful Particle Collider

Apr 30, 2016 09:49 AM EDT
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The daily operations of CERN's Large Hadron Collider, which is known to be the largest and most powerful particle collider, has experience an unexpected shutdown caused by technical problems.

When the engineers went to find out what caused the problem, they found gruesome charred remains of a weasel-like rodent.

According to an official briefing document from CERN, the weasel-like rodent was later on discovered to be a stone marten. Apparently, the small carnivorous mammal tried to gnaw through a 66-kilovolt transformer located outside the main building of CERN. The stone marten was electrocuted and instantly died on the spot, but left a considerable amount of damage in the transformer connection, making the Large Hadron Collider shut down.

"We had electrical problems, and we are pretty sure this was caused by a small animal," Arnaud Marsollier, head of press for CERN, told NPR.

This is not the first time that an animal sabotaged the Large Hadron Collider. In 2009, Nature reported that a baguette dropped by a flying bird also caused similar power outages to the Large Hadron Collider. Luckily, the bird only lost its breakfast that time, unlike the fried stone marten.

The location of the Large Hadron Collider might be to blame for the recent animal "attacks". The Large Hadron Collider is located deep underground on the border of France and Switzerland, just outside Geneva.

"We are in the countryside, and of course we have wild animals everywhere," Marsollier added.

Of course there is still the possibility that the animals near the Large Hadron Collider are in cahoots with others trying to prevent humans from better understanding the origins of the universe.

Engineers at CERN are trying their best to fix the damaged transformer connection. It will take just a few days to repair it, but it might take a week or two to bring the Large Hadron Collider back online, making the largest particle collider unusable until mid-May.

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