The world's largest particle accelerator was brought to a halt for five days by two empty beer bottles, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics said Friday.
A lab spokesman said experiments at the LEP Collider, a 17-mile ring under the Franco-Swiss border where sub-atomic particles are smashed together at close to the speed of light, began to fail for no apparent reason last Friday.Wednesday, a team which entered the accelerator found the two beer bottles in a vacuum chamber.
The LEP collider was completed in 1989 at a cost of around $1 billion and had just undergone an expensive refit that doubled the power of the accelerators.
"The world physics community had been waiting a long time for LEP-2 to be turned on. It opens a whole new field of discovery," said spokesman Neil Calder.
"We have lost around 10 percent of the time available for experiments over the next year."
Referring to an advertising slogan used by the beer in question, popular Dutch brand Heineken, he added: "This really was the beer that reached the parts other beers cannot reach."
An internal inquiry by the lab has been launched into the incident and Geneva police also were investigating, although Calder said it was not clear whether there had been criminal intent or simply negligence.