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Weasel forces Large Hadron Collider power outage

Life seemed to imitate art, as an old children’s song rang true when the Large Hadron Collider shut down in a rather curious way — a weasel making its way to an electrical facility connected to the accelerator.

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According to European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) representatives, the curious little weasel chewed its way through a 66-kilovolt transformer in an electrical facility right outside CERN’s main building. That had instantly burned up the weasel, killing it, but also killing the power over a wide swath of CERN. That included the area where the Large Hadron Collider is located, and power will remain off for at least one week, as engineers seek to make the necessary repairs on the atom smasher.

“The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is safely stopped, following technical issues, including a power cut due to the passage of a weasel on a high voltage electrical transformer,” said CERN head of press Arnaud Marsollier in a statement prepared for the press.

“Such events happened a few times in the past and are part of the life of such a large installation,” he continued. “Some connections were slightly damaged and we are at work to repair, what would not take long. We will be back online soon with a very exciting scientific program as the LHC will explore further the world of particles at high energy.”

As Marsollier said, this isn’t the first time the LHC has been shut down due to the unexpected presence of animals in the area. In 2009, a bird had dropped a baguette into the accelerator’s electrical system, causing the Large Hadron Collider to short, and putting it offline briefly.

The Large Hadron Collider has been instrumental in many a groundbreaking physics discovery, most notably 2012’s corroboration of the existence of the so-called “God particle,” the Higgs boson.

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