KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
And now, a story about something small taking down something very, very, very big. The world's largest scientific instrument, the Large Hadron Collider, is an underground concrete ring 17 miles around. NPR's science editor Geoff Brumfiel has visited the site.
GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: It's beautiful. It's on the French-Swiss border just outside of Geneva. It's really - rolling fields and pastures. I mean, it's a great place.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And that's where scientists take tiny particles - smaller than atoms - and send them flying around the ring into each other. From those collisions, they learn more about physics.
BRUMFIEL: Sometime last night, they experienced an electrical problem - a disruption to the electrical systems.
MCEVERS: Which shorted the magnets, and everything came to a stop.
BRUMFIEL: They sent a team out to investigate. And they found a chewed-through cable and what used to be some kind of small, furry mammal near one of the power transformers.
CORNISH: According to CERN, the organization that runs the collider, the culprit was probably a little weasel - no, seriously. This collider has been knocked out by animals before. And it's not the only one.
BRUMFIEL: A few years ago there was an incident where a piece of bread short-circuited a power transformer. They think a bird dropped it in there. A few years before that at a collider in Illinois, they had a raccoon problem. So animals are a recurring problem for scientific progress.
MCEVERS: Maybe it's time to hire Carl the groundskeeper from "Caddyshack."
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CADDYSHACK")
BILL MURRAY: (As Carl Spackler) Hello, Mr. Gopher. Yeah, it's me, Mr. Squirrel. Yeah, hi. I'm just a harmless squirrel, not a plastic explosive or anything - nothing to be worried about. So in the words of Jean Paul Sarte, au revoir, gopher.