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Beech Marten Knocks Out World’s Largest Particle Accelerator

By Timothy Johnson | May 15, 2016
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In case you missed it, a small mammal, now known to be a beech marten, chewed through some electrical wiring at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), causing the world’s largest particle accelerator to shut down operations.

Officially dubbed an “electrical perturbation,” an official LHC status daily summary states that the beech marten—originally thought to be a weasel—caused a short circuit on a 66-kilovolt transformer, damaging the connections.

In 2012, the LHC discovered the Higgs Boson, a previously theoretical particle. It was considered to be one of the greatest discoveries in modern physics, advancing our understanding of the universe.

This isn’t the first time animals have interrupted the LHC’s operations. In 2009, a bird is believed to have dropped a baguette, which knocked out a critical electrical system. In addition, in 2006, raccoons executed a “coordinated attack” on a particle accelerator in Illinois.

Electrical contractors are no strangers to wildlife causing damage to electrical components. For example, ants are renowned for infiltrating electrical systems and damaging them.

Arnaud Marsollier, head of press for CERN, stated it would be mid-May before the LHC could resume operations; on May 9, CERN reported that repairs were complete and that experiments had resumed.

 

About The Author

Timothy Johnson is the former digital editor for ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine.

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