Large Hadron Collider Taken Offline by Weasel!
Alexander Neil / 4 years ago
The Large Hadron Collider at CERN is the world’s most powerful particle accelerator and now this vast and complex piece of scientific equipment has been forced to shut down due to a weasel. Unfortunately for the weasel, it didn’t survive its encounter with the LHC as it interfered with one of the collider’s high-voltage transformers near Geneva in Switzerland.
Before the incident, the LHC was in operation when “severe electrical peturbation” occurred at around 5:30 AM on Friday morning. This detection affected all of the accelerators that make up the LHC and led to an immediate fast abort for most parts of the collider so that the main circuits could be checked and saved. Thankfully the weasel did not get into any of the tunnels, where far more damage to the sensitive equipment could have been done, but it will take a number of days of repairs and checks before it is able to resume operation.
This isn’t the first time that the LHC has encountered wildlife trouble, with it being shut down temporarily in 2009 following what was believed to be an incident involving a bird, but no evidence or remains of the animal were discovered. Due to the CERN’s facilities being sited in a rural area, it is unsurprising that animals would occasionally interfere with the equipment and the experts and engineers that work at CERN were well used to making the necessary repairs.
CERN’s official report details that the weasel was able to infiltrate a 66kV transformer, causing a short-circuit which damaged the transformers connections. As CERN aptly put, “Not the best week for the LHC!”