One small animal is apparently all it takes to shut down the Large Hadron Collider

tech projects
CERN
It’s a massive, $7 billion dollar piece of machinery, but even the Large Hadron Collider is no match for a small mammal. CERN, the organization that runs the Switzerland-based particle accelerator, reported Friday that it noticed a “severe electrical perturbation” that caused the entire system to shut down as a precaution.

The cause could not be identified when the problem was first observed in the wee hours of Friday morning, so CERN scientists sent a team to investigate. Upon arriving at the source of the electrical issue, repair workers were greeted by a gruesome discovery: the charred remains of a small animal beside a chewed-up power cable.

CERN scientists are not biologists, so the species of the mammal is not known with certainty. While early indications were that it might have been a weasel, official agency documents blame the issue on a marten, a weasel-like creature indigenous to much of Europe and Central Asia.

Martens would make sense as a culprit for damage to the LHC’s power cables. In areas where the marten population is high, these animals have been known to cause damage to cars by gnawing through tubes and cables. There is also a seasonal increase in these incidents in the spring, which is thought to be due to newborn martens exploring their surroundings and figuring out what is edible and what’s not. Note to other baby martens: LHC power cables are not a good source of nutrition.

Repairs to the machine will only take several days, but getting the collider back online is a different story. Getting everything fired up can take weeks, so it might not be until mid-May that the collider is up and running. And that’s bad news, considering important work on data surrounding the Higgs Boson continues. That will now have to wait, as will other scientific experiments.

This is not the first time a shutdown due to animal life has occurred, though. Back in 2009, a baguette that was likely dropped into the collider by a passing bird caused another short circuit. (Apparently, in Switzerland, the birds dine on baguettes.)

The LHC is in the Swiss countryside, so dealing with wildlife is part of the risk. For now, it’s not immediately clear if Swiss animals are plotting a coordinated attack on CERN to prevent humans from unlocking the secrets of the universe. A representative for the local animal population wasn’t available for comment as of press time.

Emerging Tech

Purdue’s robotic hummingbird is nearly as nimble as the real thing

A team of engineers in Purdue University’s Bio-Robotics Lab have developed an impressively agile flying robot, modeled after the hummingbird. Check it out in all its robotic hovering glory.
Movies & TV

Skip the flowers and sunshine this spring and watch the best shows on Hulu

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (May 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Emerging Tech

UV-activated superglue could literally help to heal broken hearts

Scientists at China's Zhejiang University have developed a UV-activated adhesive glue that is capable of efficiently healing damage to organs, including the heart. Here's how it works.
News

Has purpose become a punchline? Among startups, the debate rages

Tech companies pledging to do good as they make money hand over fist has become a Silicon Valley punchline, but beneath the jeering, a real debate is playing out among startup founders and the investors who fund them.
Emerging Tech

This guy managed to squeeze an entire game console into a Game Boy cartridge

Popular YouTuber 3DSage has managed to compress an entire mobile games console inside a single original Game Boy cartridge. Check it out in all in its impressively miniaturized glory.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s bipedal delivery robot can walk straight up to your doorstep

Autonomous wheeled delivery robots are seemingly everywhere in 2019. Agility Robotics' Digit robot takes a different approach: It promises to carry out its deliveries while walking on two legs.
Emerging Tech

Scientists use an X-ray laser to create the loudest possible underwater sound

Researchers from Stanford University and the Department of Energy have produced the loudest sound possible to make under water. Here's how they managed to create it — and why they did it.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Huawei updates, Starlink launch, and Pac-Man’s birthday

On this episode of DT Live, we discuss the ongoing Huawei saga, Amazon’s social games for workers, Ford's partnership with a robotics company, the Starlink satellite launch, Pac-Man’s birthday, and more.
Emerging Tech

Las Vegas officials bet big on Elon Musk’s Boring Company

Elon Musk’s Boring Company has just been awarded a $48.6 million contract by Las Vegas to build a high-speed transportation system beneath the city’s enormous convention center, and it could be ready by early 2020.
Emerging Tech

Airbus shows off the futuristic interior of its autonomous flying taxi

Airbus has given us the first look inside its single-seat flying taxi. The absence of controls in the Vahana electric aircraft is a reflection of its autonomous capabilities, so you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Emerging Tech

I mainlined a bag of liquid vitamins — for science

Healthy people are signing up for treatments that are typically saved for patients stuck in hospital beds. Known as nutrient IV therapy, the treatment entails pumping vitamins, minerals, and fluids directly into the bloodstream, bypassing…
Emerging Tech

Future smart clothes promise to keep you the perfect temperature at all times

Regulating your body temperature can sometimes be tough. Engineers from UC San Diego have developed heating and cooling wearable tech which could be embedded into future smart clothing.
Emerging Tech

Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2 aborts marker drop mission

The Hayabusa 2 spacecraft's mission to drop a reflective marker on the surface of asteroid Ryugu has been aborted. The Japanese team was considering a second touchdown on the asteroid to collect more materials, but this now seems unlikely.