World’s Largest Atom Smasher, the Large Hadron Collider, Reportedly Shut Down by Rodent

    A weasel-like rodent shut down the world’s most powerful atom smasher after it apparently gnawed through a power cable, facility officials said today.

    The Large Hadron Collider, a 17-mile long machine sitting deep underground on the border of France and Switzerland, went offline Thursday night, according to documents posted online by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (better known by its French acronym CERN).

    Engineers investigating the shutdown reportedly found the charred remains of a furry animal near the chewed-up power cable.

    “We had electrical problems, and we are pretty sure this was caused by a small animal,” Arnaud Marsollier, head of press for CERN, told NPR. CERN did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

    The Large Hadron Collider has been pivotal in making new physics discoveries, including the detection of a pentaquark, which was first predicted in theory in the 1960s but eluded scientists for decades. A quark is the term for the building blocks that make up hadrons. Protons and neutrons are among the best known hadrons.

    Before the discovery of five quarks bound together in a hadron, only hadrons with two or three quarks were known to exist, along with evidence of some subatomic particles made of four quarks.

    The atom smasher most famously solved one of the enduring mysteries of

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