Weasel words retracted

Why, it wasn’t a weasel at all:

You may have seen some headlines floating around the world wide web (irony) last week indicating that a weasel took down the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the largest and most powerful particle accelerator in the world. It turns out, many publications (and even a spokesperson for CERN, the organization that runs the LHC) implicated the wrong animal at the scene. According to a CERN press release issued [Monday]:

“At around 5:30 am on Friday 29 April 2016, a small beech marten found its way onto a large, open-air electrical transformer situated above ground at CERN, causing a short circuit and cutting the power to part of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

“The concerned part of the LHC stopped immediately and safely. Since then the entire machine has remained in standby mode.”

One might perhaps argue “Close enough,” since the beech marten (Martes foina) is a member in good standing of the family Mustelidae, alongside other martens, otters, badgers, ferrets, minks, wolverines, and, yes, weasels. This particular critter, though, can take or leave the outside:

They prefer open landscapes, being less dependent on forested habitats than other Martes species. Martes foina is frequently found living near human habitation, where they may den in buildings. Natural den sites include abandoned burrows, hollow trees, and rocky crevices.

Very adaptable, I’d say.


  1. John Salmon »

    3 May 2016 · 12:11 pm

    Does that mean that clever use of the beech marten could’ve shut down the entire Soviet nuclear arsenal, at the mere cost of sustaining a few thousand small mammals?

  2. CGHill »

    3 May 2016 · 5:16 pm

    If we’d thought of it — and if defenders of the snail darter and such could have been kept out of the loop.

  3. fillyjonk »

    3 May 2016 · 5:43 pm

    Hm. Weaponizing stoats. Perhaps I could get some of that sweet, sweet DoD money after all.

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