Science

Weasel takes down Large Hadron Collider

Weasel takes down Large Hadron...
A weasel has short circuited the LHC's electrical power system
A weasel has short circuited the LHC's electrical power system
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A weasel has short circuited the LHC's electrical power system
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A weasel has short circuited the LHC's electrical power system

A small furry animal today took on the largest atom smasher ever made, and won. According to internal documents at CERN, the Large Hadron Collider was knocked out of commission at about 5:30 am CEDT when a weasel caused a "severe electrical perturbation" when it stepped on the bare connections of a 66,000 volt transformer. This not only proved instantly fatal to the weasel, but it also short circuited the power system, causing the LHC to execute a fast abort as the sudden power loss created a series of anomalies.

According to CERN, the weasel wasn't in the accelerator itself, but in transformers at the power substations on the surface that relay electricity to the giant machine. The sudden loss of power affected all the accelerators and shut down all the beams used to study subatomic particles. Most of the magnets powered down correctly, though some did not, the cryogenic system used to supercool the accelerator went offline, and air leaks developed that compromised the vacuum in the beam chambers.

In a slide presentation of the supercollider's status, the event was referred to as "not the best week for LHC." Speaking to the BBC, a CERN spokesman said that it will take a few days to bring the LHC back online.

This is not the first time that the LHC has been shut down by wildlife. In 2009, a bird dropped a piece of bread into the electrical system, which briefly disabled the collider.

Source: CERN (PDF)

11 comments
269ec0b25e154571a3fb5d69617d1a94
Is this a case of pop goes the weasel?
Razaray
Maybe this is god's way of telling us cern is a bad idea lol.
zr2s10
Sounds like they need to do some critter proofing! Apparently the guys that designed the electrical enclosures weren't as smart as the guys that designed the accelerator itself... Oh, and I wouldn't say that the weasel "won" this fight, seeing as he's, you know...dead.
Bob Flint
You would have thought that after the bird & bread incident, they would have taken steps to protect the electrical grid supplying the juice.... Imagine someone malicious could do far more damage than accidental natural encounters.
RasielSuarez
Sounds like having so much at stake riding on a surface power transformer exposed to wildlife and maybe vandalism too is poor design... man, I hope they can redesign whatever to prevent something like this from happening again.
Dan Parker
How is it that animals are able to access areas of the system where there are unshielded electrical connections? For "rocket scientists" CERN has sure overlooked some pretty basic construction/safety principles.
Lbrewer42
We finally have a reason to rally to the song entitled "Weasel Stomping Day!' Its on youtube.
Tanstar
As zr2s10 implied, your idea of winning the fight is a bit off . . .
WilliamAWallner
Well, as for saying the weasel 'won': I would not declare getting instantly fried, a 'win'. No matter where technology leads us, it still comes down to the basics of nature.
IanHoldsworth
Given the scale of the LHC its only right that bugs should scale up to small fury creatures. Please let me know when they manage to split the infinitive.