Size doesn’t matter: Weasel blamed for Large Hadron Collider shutdown

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Weasels have a reputation for being mischievous, and for good reason, apparently. One of the sneaky predators is believed to have shut down the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), considered to be one of the world's most important scientific instruments.

The 17-mile superconducting machine, designed to smash protons together at close to the speed of light, went offline late Thursday.

"Not the best week for LHC!" the summary of the incident report said. 

"We had electrical problems, and we are pretty sure this was caused by a small animal," said Arnaud Marsollier, the head of press for CERN, the organization that runs the $7 billion particle collider in Switzerland.

"We are in the countryside, and of course we have wild animals everywhere," Marsollier continued, adding that the culprit was probably a weasel.

The little critter caused a big disruption for the LHC. Putting the machine back online isn't a simple fix and could take until mid-May.

But hey – it's not like the LHC was preparing to do anything important. It was merely getting ready to collect new data on the Higgs boson, a particle considered to be a cornerstone of the modern theory of particle physics.

It's not the first time that the LHC has suffered at the hands of animals. In 2009, a bird is believed to have dropped a baguette into the system’s machinery, causing an electrical short.

When the LHC isn't being shut down by mischievous critters, it focuses on solving the mystery of our universe, aiming to study a state of matter that existed shortly after the Big Bang took place.