Museum Immortalizes Weasel That Shut Down the Large Hadron Collider

Mariomassone via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0
Mariomassone via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0 / Mariomassone via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

A few months ago, the gears of the future ground to a halt when a curious weasel chewed through the wiring of the Large Hadron Collider. Valiant though the weasel was, it was tragically no match for superconductive wires it came in contact with when it hopped a substation fence. Fans of the weasel will be delighted to learn that its stuffed and slightly singed body will soon go on display at the Rotterdam Natural History Museum in the Netherlands.

The electrocuted weasel (technically a beech marten, Martes foina) is just one small charred part of the museum’s upcoming Dead Animal Tales exhibition, which also includes a hedgehog that got trapped in a McFlurry machine. The program is the brainchild of museum director Kees Moeliker, who's been collecting weird animal deaths since 1995, when a duck smashed into the museum building. The duck died immediately; alarmingly, this did not prevent it from becoming the object of another duck's rather forceful affections for a full 75 minutes.

This is actually the second marten to shut down—and be shut down by—the LHC. The first marten struck in April 2016, but someone disposed of the body before the museum could intervene. When it happened again in November, the staff at Cern were ready and put the carcass aside.

“We want to show that no matter what we do to the environment, to the natural world, the impact of nature will always be there,” Moeliker told The Guardian. “We try to put a magnifying glass on some fine examples. This poor creature literally collided with the largest machine in the world, where physicists collide particles every day. It’s poetic, in my opinion, what happened there.”

[h/t The Guardian]