The world’s largest atom smasher has been taken offline by a wayward weasel.
The Large Hadron Collider unexpectedly shutdown Thursday night after the critter – ahem – weaseled its way into the system’s transformer, causing an electrical outage. The furry little guy did not survive the incident.
The $7 billion machine has experienced a series of mishaps in the past several days, including a vacuum leak, a “weird status of some magnets,” and the most recent “electrical perturbation,” according to a briefing document posted online by the European Particle Physics Laboratory (CERN).
“Not the best week for the LHC!” the document reads.
The collider, which started up in September 2008, is the most powerful particle accelerator in the world and is made up of a 17-mile ring of super-conducting magnets. Inside the accelerator, two high-energy particle beams called protons travel nearly at the speed of light before they are induced to collide head on.
Most famously, physicists used it to discover evidence of the Higgs boson, a key breakthrough in particle physics, while researchers have also focused on a search for the invisible “dark matter” believed to make up 96 percent of the universe.
The magnetic system requires special care, CERN says, noting in its briefing that the “weird status” was “to be understood.”
Article source: http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2016/0429/Wayward-weasel-takes-down-world-s-most-powerful-atom-smasher
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