Weasel chews power cable, puts LHC experiments on hold

Scientists at CERN located the damage while performing warm-up tests and readying the LHC for new experiments.
By Brooks Hays   |   April 29, 2016 at 11:33 AM

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 29 (UPI) -- A weasel has temporarily thwarted the search for mysterious subatomic particles.

As New Scientist reported, the slender mammal chewed a cable of the Large Hadron Collider. Damage to the 66-kilovolt electrical transformer has forced scientists to put their experiments on hold for several days while repairs are made.

"I can confirm that we had some issues overnight with electrical trouble," Arnaud Marsollier, a spokesperson for CERN, or the European Organization for Nuclear Research, told New Scientist. "We suspect it might be due to a small animal."

The news broke after a series of slide images detailing recent LHC tests and damages were uploaded to the Internet and subsequently posted on Reddit.

One of the slides blames an "electrical perturbation" caused by a short-circuit on a "fouine" -- an Italian word for weasel.

Scientists at CERN located the damage while performing warm-up tests and readying the LHC for new experiments after a period of inactivity over the winter.

The repairs could take up to eight days, after which scientists expect to get back to the task of discovering new subatomic particles -- including examples of dark matter.

In 2009, the collider suffered a similar setback when a piece of baguette dropped by a bird momentarily derailed warm-up testing.

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