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Sept. 2008 credit crisis

On Sept. 10, the world's largest particle collider and atom smasher was turned on for the first time. Skeptics warned that the Large Hadron Collider, a 17-mile circular tunnel under the Swiss-French border designed to smash protons so they shatter and recreate the Big Bang, would create a black hole inside the Earth. 

In a world where homes could go down the drain and disappear into a black hole, the mortgage mess and global credit crisis seemed trivial in comparison.

Four days later, on Monday Sept. 15, the credit collider smashed Lehman Brothers to bits. Lehman filed for bankruptcy and instantly disappeared into the credit black hole. 

By Thursday Sept. 18, the black hole threatened to collide and smash U.S. financial markets and the entire global financial system. Then the federal government stepped in and turned off the collider with a $700 billion proposal for the largest bailout plan in U.S. history. 

One week later, on Thursday Sept. 25, the plan is still up in the air. Congress is debating the plan. President Bush just met with Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama. The world is rapidly losing trust in the U.S. German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck said "The United States will lose its superpower status in the world financial system. The world financial system will become more multipolar," he said.

Thursday night, Washington Mutual disappeared into the black hole, becoming the biggest bank failure in U.S. history. The government seized WaMu, took it over, and sold Wamu's $307 billion of assets to J.P. Morgan Chase for $1.9 billion.

"A crisis of confidence without precedent is shaking the global economy," French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a speech in Toulon, France.

Toulon is close to the Large Hedron Collider, where this whole thing started. Could someone forward this message to President Sarkozy: Please shut down the collider!

 

Here are some photos inside the LHC tunnel, and in the control room on LHC First Beam Day:

LHC mission control  LHC atom smasher

LHC operators  LHC monitors

Images by Maximilien Brice    copyright CERN

 

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