The Large Hardron Collider is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator machine, and allows researchers to smash particles together at nearly the speed of light to assess the results and research the split-second existence of potentially undocumented particles.
Inside of the 17-mile long Large Hadron Collider are a number of technological gadgets and gizmos that make it work. Among those are powerful magnets, a liquid helium cooling system, and a powerful vacuum system.
As you can imagine, with all of these electrical do-dads that make the thing work, there are a lot of wires behind the machine to send electrical signals back and forth.
But recently, a problem has occurred with the electrical system on the Large Hadron Collider, and CERN is blaming the fault on a small weasel that managed to get near the equipment and gnaw through one of the collider’s important wires.
Weasels and other rodents have been known to gnaw through wires for ages; they’ve done so on homes, cars, and many other kinds of equipment where they can get their teeth sharpened by gnawing on things. Unfortunately, this time it was something much more major…
After the electrical problem was noticed, the Large Hadron Collider team immediately shut down the machine for safety reasons, and found electrical arcing from the gnawed wire caused slight damage to the machine.
It’s nothing that can’t be repaired, but it’s going to cost a pretty penny. After all, the Large Hadron Collider is a very expensive machine, which CERN notes costed about $6.4 billion United States dollars to build.
Engineers will be hard at work repairing the damage that was inflicted by a mere weasel, and in the meantime, the machine will remain powered off for the safety of everyone involved with the testing.
"Now when we will be fully back in operation is not easy to say yet. Fixing what is due to the power cut is no big deal — may take just a few days — and on such a big machine we have to deal with this kind of repairs on a regular basis — it is part of the business. But we also have other ongoing technical activities, so at the moment, what I can say is that we will probably not have beams back until end of next week at least," CERN spokeswoman Arnaud Marsollier said to the Washington Times.
Source: Washington Times, CERN