Weasel knocks out powerful particle accelerator


A general view outside The Globe of Science and Innovation at The European Organization for Nuclear Research commonly know as CERN on April 19, 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Globe of Science and Innovation, representing the Earth, embodies CERN’s message to society in the fields of science, particle physics, cutting edge technologies and applications. Measuring 27 metres high and 40 metres across, the Globe is an unprecedented visual landmark both day and night. The ‘Universe of Particles’ exhibition on the ground floor takes visitors on an immersive journey into the world of particles, up to the Big Bang. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

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SWITZERLAND — The largest scientific experiment has gone offline because of a foreign intruder.

CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, the world’s biggest particle accelerator located near Geneva, Switzerland, lost power Friday. Engineers who were investigating the outage made a grisly discovery — the charred remains of a weasel, CERN spokesman Arnaud Marsollier told CNN.

The little critter gnawed through a 66-kilovolt transformer inside an electrical facility outside the main building. Just for perspective, one kilovolt is 1,000 volts of energy.

Chewing the wiring ended up frying the creature into oblivion and causing a wide power outage around CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

The unexpected power loss has shut down the Large Hadron Collider for at least a week as engineers work to make repairs and address other issues, Marsollier said.

The weasel’s unfortunate demise is not the first time CERN has faced technical issues due to animals. The facility is in the countryside, sitting between the French and Swiss border.

In 2009, a bird had a case of the butter fingers — er, we mean talons — when it dropped a baguette onto the electrical system. The toasty loaf caused a short circuit, sidelining work at the facility for a short time. Unlike the weasel, the bird survived.

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