The Large Hadron Collider near Geneva is known as being one of the most important scientific developments in the world. But this vast piece of technology, intended to attempt to recreate the conditions at the very dawn of time, has been taken down by a rather less powerful entity.
Weasel to blame for Hadron Collider
NPR reports that the largest and most powerful particle accelerator on the planet has been decommissioned by a weasel. Unfortunately, it seems that scientists were completely unable to weasel their way out of the situation…
Arnaud Marsollier, head of press for the European Organization for Nuclear Research, informed The Washington Post in an email that Large Hadron Collider had been forced to be set on standby due to massive technical issues. These have included power cuts due to the passage of a small wild animal into one of the major electrical transformers used to run the device.
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Marsollier confirmed that a weasel had passed into the machinery of the device, effectively scuppering scientists for at least 24 hours. Unfortunately for animal lovers, it is fair to say that the weasel in question is now very much an ex-weasel!
The Large Hadron Collider has made consistent headlines since it was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research between 1998 and 2008 in collaboration with over 10,000 scientists and engineers from over 100 countries. Despite being located in a tunnel 27 kilometers (17 mi) in circumference, as deep as 175 metres (574 ft) beneath the France–Switzerland border, it seems that the remote location of the device was not enough to keep this particularly persistent weasel out.
When not being impeded by wildlife, the collider is utilized in order to smash extremely fast moving particles into one another. Aside from assessing the birth of the universe, scientists also utilize the device in order to forge a better understanding of the fundamentals of physics, and even to discover unknown particles that help shape the physical laws of the known universe. In particular, the Collider can be utilized to examine the so-called Higgs boson particle; often referred to as the God particle.
Despite the noble intentions of this piece of machinery, it seems that animals had a different idea for the scientists this week, and thus technicians are currently working to get the Collider back online. Of course, a machine of this size cannot simply be plucked back in! It will take days, if not weeks, of skilled technical engineering in order to restore the device to an acceptable experimental condition.
A similar incident previously took place back in 2009, when it is assumed that a bird also perished having got into the inner workings of this immensely complex piece of machinery. Despite the best efforts of scientists to exclude wildlife from the development, it seems that the propensity of wild animals in the surrounding countryside means that occasional accidents are unavoidable.
A post on the Large Hadron Collider group on Reddit featured a raft of information about the incident, with logbook recordings and meeting slides featuring alongside a supposed image of the animal in question. It would be fair to say that the weasel met a rather grisly end, even if it did rather heroically take down one of the most sophisticated pieces of scientific technology in the world!
So overall it’s been an incredibly tragic day for both scientific research and weasels…one can only hope that researchers at the Geneva laboratory are beavering away to get the device back online as quickly as possible (well, there’s only so many weasel jokes possible…).