"I hiked with a theoretical physicist at Berkeley and each time he went to CERN it failed and shut down."
Yes, this is a possible example of the Pauli effect. The "Pauli Effect" (not to be confused with the Pauli Principle) is the apparent spontaneous self-destruction of mechanical/experimental apparatus when a theoretical physicist is nearby. The effect goes inversely as the square of the distance, but is believed to be proportional to the genius of the theoretical physicist.
Its namesake, Wolfgang Pauli, was such a powerful theorist that his mere presence in the same town could cause experimental apparatus to blow up. There was even one documented case where an experiment at the local university in Germany failed at precisely the moment a train carrying Pauli passed through the town.
From wikipeadia: "An incident occurred in the physics laboratory at the University of Göttingen. An expensive measuring device, for no apparent reason, suddenly stopped working, although Pauli was in fact absent. James Franck, the director of the institute reported the incident to his colleague Pauli in Zürich with the humorous remark that at least this time Pauli was innocent. However, it turned out that Pauli on a railway journey to Copenhagen switched trains in Göttingen rail station about the time of failure. The incident is reported in George Gamow's book, Thirty Years That Shook Physics,where it is also claimed the more talented the theoretical physicist, the stronger the effect."
My own Pauli effect has been verified many times, but its strength is far, far less than Pauli's. I have to be in the same room, but if I am close enough to touch anything, watch out!