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Science Ticker

A weasel has shut down the Large Hadron Collider

LHC tunnel

CERN has confirmed that a tiny, unnamed weasel took down the Large Hadron Collider this morning. 

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CERN’s Large Hadron Collider is in standby mode after a 66-kilovolt/18-kilovolt electrical transformer suffered a short circuit April 29 at 5:30 a.m. Central European TimeThe culprit: A small wild animal, believed to be a weasel, gnawing on a power cable.

“The concerned part of the LHC stopped immediately and safely, though some connections were slightly damaged due to an electrical arc,” Arnaud Marsollier, who leads CERN’s press office, wrote in an e-mail to Science News.

Sadly, the weasel did not survive the event, but the LHC should be back online soon. “It may take a few days to repair but such events happened a few times in the past and are part of the life of such a large installation,” Marsollier writes. The power outage comes just as the LHC is preparing to resume collecting data.

This isn’t the the first time an odd event has stalled operations at the particle collider outside Geneva on the Swiss-French border. In 2009, a piece of bread (supposedly a baguette dropped by a bird or from an airplane) interrupted a power installation for an LHC cooling unit.

Health,, Microbiology

This week in Zika: Haiti hit early, possible monkey hosts, and more

By Meghan Rosen 12:54pm, April 29, 2016
A new test for Zika, how Haiti fits into the outbreak timeline, a look at monkeys that can carry the virus, and more in this week’s Zika Watch.
Astronomy

Japan’s latest X-ray telescope is officially dead

By Christopher Crockett 6:51pm, April 28, 2016
The Japanese space agency has officially declared its latest X-ray telescope a loss.
Plants

Nightshade plants bleed sugar as a call to ants for backup

By Helen Thompson 4:08pm, April 28, 2016
Bittersweet nightshade produces sugary wound goo to lure in ant protectors that eat herbivores, researchers have found.
Planetary Science

Hubble telescope finds small moon orbiting dwarf planet Makemake

By Christopher Crockett 11:31am, April 27, 2016
Hubble Space Telescope images from April 2015 show that the dwarf planet Makemake has a tiny moon.
Science & Society,, Neuroscience

Findings on wobbly memories questioned

By Laura Sanders 3:00pm, April 25, 2016
In contrast to older studies, new results suggest that new memories don’t interfere with older, similar ones.
Plants,, Epigenetics,, Cells

Plants might remember with prions

By Susan Milius 3:00pm, April 25, 2016
A plant protein has passed lab tests for prionlike powers as molecular memory.
Astronomy

Hubble telescope snaps stunning pic for its 26th birthday

By Christopher Crockett 7:00am, April 22, 2016
For its 26th anniversary, the Hubble Space Telescope snapped a picture of star blowing bubbles in space.
Health,, Microbiology

This week in Zika: Assessing risk, mosquito range, a transmission first and more

By Meghan Rosen 3:52pm, April 15, 2016
Several new reports document Zika infection in U.S. pregnant women, a case of male sexual transmission, the range of Zika-carrying mosquitoes and more.
Genetics,, Fungi

Gene-edited mushroom doesn’t need regulation, USDA says

By Tina Hesman Saey 3:16pm, April 15, 2016
A CRISPR-edited mushroom isn’t like other GMOs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.
Animals,, Numbers

Math models predict mysterious monarch navigation

By Helen Thompson 6:00am, April 15, 2016
Researchers have come up with a series of equations to predict how monarchs use their eyes and antennae to figure out how to get to Mexico.
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