Large Hadron Collider: Now This Is Just Getting Ridiculous

Popular Science is reporting that a piece of bread, dropped by a passing bird, has managed to damage the Large Hadron Collider.

The bird dropped some bread on a section of outdoor machinery, eventually leading to significant over heating in parts of the accelerator. The LHC was not operational at the time of the incident, but the spike produced so much heat that had the beam been on, automatic failsafes would have shut down the machine.

If this really is the work of time-traveling Higgs boson particles, however, they're demonstrating a lot of creativity, but not a lot of competence. The Bird Incident won't delay the reactivation of the facility, which is still scheduled for later this month.

Baguette Dropped From Bird's Beak Shuts Down the Large Hadron Collider (Really), Popular Science. You should follow the link just to see their illustration "according to eyewitness accounts". Via stevesilberman.



    Spocko here from 2387. Yes, we are trying to stop you from switching on the Large Hadron Collider, but not for the reasons you think. It turns out that every time you turn that thing on it makes all the toilets in our timeline flush for two minutes and 17 seconds. We sent that information back to you quite a few years ago and somehow you didn’t understand our message.

    When we were obvious you thought we were joking, so now we are being subtle. The next glitch will be a SOFTWARE glitch. I’ll bet won’t didn’t see THAT one coming from us!

  2. You know, the word sabotage comes from workers throwing their shoes (sabot) into the machinery. And there was just a story about shoes made of bread. I think it would be irresponsible no to speculate that the origins of the synchronicity are Cory’s time machine.

  3. the bird was definitely from the future, sent here to prevent the lhc from creating a mini black hole and dematerializing the earth. definitely.

  4. OMFreakinG: Wife and I were just discussing how Ft. Hood seriously appears to be a Proof-Of-Concept re: Any Clancy Novel et. al. Then we flick to BB and see this. *Another* PoC test??? And on Guy Fawkes Day???? Spoookkkkyyy…..

  5. I have heard of too many major power grid outages here in north america being from racoons or other wildlife deciding to sit/chew/fart on a wire. (the rest of the outages came from neglect of course)

    anyone ever thought of putting this stuff indoors?

    I know some of it is, but why isn’t all of it? it can be vented outside if it needs fresh air can’t it?

  6. Maybe we should start a betting pool on the next thing that goes wrong? I’m putting a bet down for a small meteorite hitting a critical component. Should occur sometime in late November or early December, say by December 5th.

    After that the next problem will be a herd of emus stampeding into the accelerator.

    Not sure what happens after that.

  7. Message for the future:

    If we should NOT operate the LHC, please go back in time, and spread around enough bread so that a bird picks some up and drops it on some critical component so it shuts down whole operation.


  8. what ACTUALLY is happening is that they already got the collider working for a while now and did discover some Stargate-type amazing stuff as a result. So as to keep the public and larger scientific community off its back, they are spinning the collider to be seen as a technical joke that everyone will write off as one big failure and forget. In the meantime, we are sending people to rape and procreate with 8th dimension babes to produce a super interdimensional race of warriors.

  9. Well, the GOOD news is that if you believe the LHC is a perversion of nature and must be stopped, all you need is a plane ticket to geneva and directions to the nearest deli.

  10. “Hey, Steve, since this thing’s gonna be outside and all, you think we oughtta’ put a screen or something over it?”

    “Um, no, I haven’t heard of anything happening outside, we should be fine.”

  11. Bird-Beak-Borne Bread Breaks Black-hole Beam Blaster (sorry, the Popular Science headline challenged me)

  12. Such 2-dimensional thinking. Maybe the bird is the time traveler from the future. Think The Birds meets Planet of the Apes.

  13. When it does fire up all red states and talk show hosts will become food for a very large pigeon.

  14. Here I was expecting a serious illustration and wound up nearly spitting out my coffee laughing when I clicked.

  15. When they switched on the first computer a moth flew in and blew a vacuum tube. Thus, the phrase “there’s a bug in the system” came to be.

    When they switched on the LHC for the first time a bird dropped bread and it overheated a $6 billion dollar hula hoop. Thus the phrase “unfuckingbelievable” would live on another another 3 or 4 decades.

    1. isn’t it “unbe-fucking-leivable”?

      Also; it wasn’t a bird, it was a rare by-product of the LHC collision process.
      I believe the scientists are calling the new wonder-particle a “pidge-on”.


  16. 100 years ago most physicists would have laughed at the ideas of quantum physics. One of the cool things about looking is sometimes you find really unexpected stuff….maybe higgs really is reaching out.


    no, really

  17. Maybe the machines in the future could take a lesson from this – birds with bread seem far more effective than Terminators.

  18. Actually, figured it all out. We all should have gotten this sooner…

    Here’s a similar case with similar clues:

  19. On the odd chance that this thing actually does destroy the world, will I at least get a second or two to say “Oh Shit!”? Or will I be crushed into a singularity in a millisecond?

    The world being destroyed would suck, but it would REALLY suck for the world to be destroyed and not even know.

  20. I see no reason why time travel is required to explain the repeated failure of the device. My guess is multi-verse centered:

    The LHC destroys any universe in which it becomes fully operational. Of course new universes are being created all the time, so there are always universes in which some coincidence or quantum effect causes the LHC to fail. Since universes in which it doesn’t fail are destroyed we are unaware of those. Instead we are only aware of the increasingly improbable ones in which it doesn’t work.

    One day they’ll fix it so that it works for sure and then we’ll all be gone. Or at least our casual domain.

    Yes, I enjoyed Anathem waaaaaay to much, but the ideas in it are useful for describing how this could happen without time travel.

  21. I’m trying to figure out something here. One of these two things must be true:

    A. There are portions of this multi-billion dollar device — which can be disabled by a crust of bread — that are exposed to the open air.

    B. There are birds living in the underground tunnels of the LHC…and the scientists are feeding them.

    Both of these options sound unbelievable. Both of them lead to wonder what the hell were they thinking. Yet I can’t think of any third possible explanation for how this happened.

    It’s just boggling.

  22. Wouldn’t it be nice if the reporter took the time to explain to his technically-minded audience (this is Popular Science, after all) just *how* a small piece of bread could cause a portion of the LHC to overheat? I, for one, am rather curious.

  23. Time to get serious, one call to Cheney and he can have
    Blackwater over there and clear out every bird within
    100 miles of there, problem fixed!

  24. Please, someone kill that “Droid” ad at the top… It keeps opening up and moving the entire page down. Quite annoying.

  25. Please indulge my off topic rant, but those damn expanding droid ads are super annoying. You’re really making me want to switch to adblock bb.

    1. Animated ads generally (and popups specifically) are the reason I started running NOSCRIPT. I don’t actually mind sponsorship/advertising on websites; I DO mind when it tries to get in the way of my using the site.

      I’ve seen much worse… but this is starting to get into the “OK, I was interested, but if they’re going to pester me I’m going to tune out” range. You might want to suggest to Verizon that they tone it down a bit. Being noticed, and being noticed positively, are two very different things.

    2. I’ve been throwing bread crust at my monitor and don’t seem to be having the pop up problem any more- you could try throwing a bird at the screen, but I usually save that for bigger projects

      1. No idea if this has been explored already, but some sites find it advantageous to turn off ads for logged-in users. Even polite mentions of annoying ads can steer discussions off-course. Logged-in users may comprise a very small percentage of the total audience, and their CTR’s are generally much lower too.

  26. Hey morons, I will sell you the screen off my air conditioner for 500 Million.

    I don’t even need to time travel to get it there.

    Spocko, we all no that in the future we will all use composting toilets. You must be a time traveler from the past.

  27. The poor little Birdy was only trying to fire up up some marshmellows! SHEESH !!!!
    rtc San Antonio, Texas

  28. So there is this port no bigger than 2 meters across that goes directly to the generator. If something were to get down in there it could possibly destroy the whole station…

  29. Having actually designed and build ultra-high current electromagnets, I can relate to problems of keeping high power magnets operating. It’s not like switching on a laptop and having it run so well you can get on to the next thing.

    I see this more likely being system complexity intersecting Murphy’s Law.

  30. Seriously? A piece of bread? I do believe there are some engineers that need to be head-slapped for putting such a sensitive piece of equipment outdoors.

    This just in:

    “Man in Geneva sneezes, LHC collapses under air pressure.”

  31. Getting back on topic… Have we got confirmation of this story from some source just a bit less imaginative than Pop Sci? I still don’t have the flying car they promised me…

  32. Never again will I laugh at Death Star’s unshielded exhaust ports. Good thing the bird was packing just some bread instead of a proton torpedo though.

  33. So, am I the only one who sees “hardon collider” every time I scroll past this article?

    God, I hope not.

  34. For what it is worth if the LHC had 1,000,000,000 individual components (there are most likely even more than that) and a 99.9999% none-failure rate it would still have 10,000 components fail.

    A system as large and complex as the LHC becomes inefficient at solving problems and probably needs to be simplified. There is always a simpler way of doing things, hence the soul purpose for this machine. It is trying to find the smallest particle in the universe. You cant squash an atom with a hammer.

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