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The Large Hadron Collider Does NOT Destroy the World

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

Many years ago a project just south of Dallas, Texas would have created the world's largest underground particle collider, but after costs quadrupled, the project was abandoned. What remains is a big hole in Texas. A more modest project was begun in Europe: the Large Hadron Collider. It's purpose is scientific research. Strong magnetic fields force elementary particles, such as protons, into high speed collisions. Detectors at the collision point can track the proton breaking apart and "see" the resulting fundamental building blocks of the Universe. The question to be answered is, "Why does our Universe exist at all?" Our current physics indicate that nothing should be here, yet, here we are. Some extra matter must be hidden, a particle as yet undiscovered that holds the Universe together. They call it "The God Particle", probably to ease the minds of those who fear that the Universe might come apart if we mess with it. (The book and TV series Flashforward explores this idea as well as Dan Brown's Angels and Demons.) Some fear that a high energy collision could create a miniature black hole, a substance so dense that it could swallow the entire Earth. (Think of Star Trek, the movie reboot.) The first few tests go well, but then a coolant leak releases 6 tons of liquid helium, and dismounts several 10-ton magnets. The collider is shut down, but we are from the future. We know they will get it running again, and find the hidden "God Particle", the Higgs Boson, and we are still here. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Asking whether we might blow up the world is a perfectly reasonable question, but it is unsettling when we get the answer, "It is very unlikely." We want certainty, but sadly as we learn more about the Universe we become certain that we know very little at all. That is not simple rhetoric. What we thought we knew FOR SURE only 20 years ago is already out the window, and even if we stopped now, it would not change the fundamental uncertainty. As I understand physics, there is a vanishingly small chance that by simply sitting in my armchair I could be transported to Mars... totally at random. Frankly, it is much more likely that I will win the lottery every single day for the rest of my life, yet the possibility remains. So, when a physicist tells me that an event is very unlikely I know what he means. It's a strange Universe, and I've seen it change several times. It's enough to make one believe in God... or at least in His particle. (FYI, I believe in God, and when I study the Universe I am studying His mind, but calling the Higgs Boson the God Particle is just dramatic fluff. No more.) [12] [13]

Kosovo declares independence

Contributed by Southpaw Ben

"We, the democratically elected leaders of our people, hereby declare Kosovo to be an independent and sovereign state. This declaration reflects the will of our people and it is in full accordance with the recommendations of UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari and his Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement. We declare Kosovo to be a democratic, secular and multi-ethnic republic, guided by the principles of non-discrimination and equal protection under the law."

-excerpt from Kosovo's declaration of independence.[14]

This declaration was made on February 17th by the Assembly of Kosovo. They unanimously voted to declare Kosovo independent from Serbia. Well, mostly unanimously, as only 109 of the 120 members were in attendance. The other 11 were representing the Serb minority in Kosovo, and they boycotted the proceedings. Serbia felt that the declaration was illegal and appealed to the International Court of Justice, wanting the declaration to be ruled illegal. However, the ICJ determined that the assembly violated no international laws. As there are many states and regions across the globe vying for independence, there is an unresolved question of whether precedent has been set for declaring independence, or if Kosovo is a special case due to its years of strife that was a result of Yugoslavia’s non-consensual break up, as the declaration claims. [15]

My Take by Southpaw Ben
Reading through the legal jargon, official opinions and stances, and varying degrees of recognition by other countries and the UN's ambiguous stance on Kosovo's would make any American student happy that their country's Declaration of Independence came at a much simpler time in regards to international affairs. It is also interesting to note that there is nothing in international law that prohibits legally declaring a region independent. However, that doesn't necessarily mean it will be accepted by enough other nations for it to actually function as a country in regards to international relations. This can lead to interesting results. It also leaves open the question of if a virtual nation were to declare independence how the ICJ would rule on the legality of such a declaration, and if said nation would receive any recognition by other nations.

The Subprime Mortgage Crisis Timeline

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

When Americans think of The Great Recession, they usually think of 2008. Those who had a sense that something terrible was coming are already out of the stock market. Everyone else is hosed. The current subprime mortgage market is $1.3 trillion. (In simple terms, that is more than the total value of actual US dollar bills and coins everywhere.) In the closing days of last year, as companies tried desperately to save themselves, it became obvious that the US government would intervene. 2008 is the beginning of that intervention. The list is brief. I cannot possible cover everything, not even everything that is important. Here we go. [16]

  • (January 11) Bank of America buys out Countrywide Financial which owns 20% of US mortgages: (They were MY mortgage company.--alexshrugged)
  • (March) Bear-Sterns is sold off to JP Morgan Chase at fire sale prices: That is $10 a share vs. $133 a year ago. Bear-Sterns was leveraged 35.6 to 1 when it all came apart. [17]
  • (July 11) IndyMac Bank fails with 32 billion in assets: They were in the hole for $10 billion when there was a run on the bank. Bye-bye. [18]
  • (July 19) The Dow Jones closes above 14,000: The highest close in history. [19]
  • (August 10) The Federal Reserve injects $43 billion into the US economy: Other countries follow suit.
  • (August 31) President Bush announces a limited bailout for homeowners: In reality it is a bailout for the banks, so that they won't have to make a deal with the homeowners. [20]
  • (September 7) The US Government takes over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: These are the two largest mortgage financing institutions in the US, and cash cows for political appointees on their board of trustees. [21] [22][23]
  • (September 15) After 158 years, Lehman Brothers fails: Investors believed it was "too big to fail" until it did. [24] [22]
  • (September 16) AIG is bailed out by the US government: They are holding the bag for $57.8 billion. The government won't let them fail. [25]
  • (September 28) Mad Money host Jim Cramer advises getting out of the stock market NOW: . [26]
  • (September 29) The Dow Jones drops 777 points: [22]
  • (October 3) President Bush creates a $700 billion fund to save the banks: As I understand it, the banks are required to take the money whether they think they need it or not to prevent a run on the banks that actually need it. [27] [22][28][29][30]
  • (December) The Dow Jones drops another 680 points upon news that The Great Recession has begun: President Bush will get the blame, but in fact there is plenty of blame to go around, particularly to Congressman Barney Frank, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. [22]

Notable Births

None that I can find.--alexshrugged

Notable Deaths

  • Heath Ledger (age 28, accidental overdose of prescription drugs): The Joker in the Batman movie The Dark Knight. [31] [32]
  • George Carlin (age 71, heart failure): Comedian and social commentator. He had entered rehab 2 years prior for alcohol and Vicodin addiction. [31]
  • Don LaFontaine (age 68, collapsed lung): "The Voice of God" in GEICO commercials, and every movie trailer beginning with the words, "In a world where...." [31] [33]
  • And.... Michael Crichton (age 66, cancer), Tony Snow (age 53, cancer), and William F. Buckley Jr. (age 81, heart attack). [31]

This Year in Film

  • The Dark Knight: The sequel to Batman Begins. [34]
  • Kung Fu Panda: (Hilarious--alexshrugged). [34]
  • And...: Hancock, Iron Man, and Mamma Mia! old people singing Abba favorites. [34]

This Year in TV

  • 80th Academy Awards... lowest ratings EVER: Hosted by Jon Stewart. (I don't watch, but apparently the show was loaded up with film clips thus diminishing Jon Stewart's role.--alexshrugged) [35]
  • Superbowl 42... highest ratings EVER: The Giants overturn the 12 point favorite Patriots. [35]
  • HBO's John Adams: An excellent miniseries of one of our Founding Fathers. (John and Abigail Adams kept their letters to each other. It is a beautiful love story, but remember that they knew we would be reading those letters.--alexshrugged) [35]
  • Fringe: (Weird. Just weird.--alexshrugged) [35]

This Year in Music

  • Rehab: Amy Winehouse. (Amy is going to die because she knows better than the folks at rehab.--alexshrugged) [36]

This Year in Video Games

  • The Nintendo Wii is outselling all other consoles: Games for the Wii are also top sellers such as Mario Kart Wii. [37]
  • Grand Theft Auto 4 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3: . [37]
  • Game developer Joseph Batten murders his wife Melissa, and then blows his brains out: She was in Beta Testing, so you know it would not end well. (But wait... she had a court order. Apparently, paper does not deflect bullets.--alexshrugged) [37] [38]

In Other News

  • The FDA declares that cloned cattle, swine, and goats, are safe to eat: (I feel better already.--alexshrugged) [39] [22]
  • A 7.9 magnitude quake strikes China, killing over 87,000 people: The shaking lasted 2 minutes. It is the length of shake time and construction standards that are critical. [43] [22][44]
  • Microsoft CEO Bill Gates retires: He will push for COMMON CORE using the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. [45] [46] [22][47]
  • An LA Metrolink train hits a freight train head on, killing 25: (My cousin had both knees replaced.--alexshrugged). [48] [22][49]
  • Hamas terrorists fire rockets from Gaza into Israel. Israel invades: (I guess the Jewish "Disengagement" didn't work.--alexshrugged) [50] [51][52] [22][53]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 2008, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Large Hadron Collider Black Hole - YouTube. Retrieved on 22 May 2017.
  2. CERN Hadron Collider - Black Hole - The Results - YouTube (2017). Retrieved on 22 May 2017.
  3. Science and Fiction: Flashforward. CERN European Organization for Nuclear Research (2011). Retrieved on 22 May 2017.
  4. Sawyer, Robert J.. Flashforward. Tor Book. ISBN 9780812580341. “
    They were attempting to recreate energy levels that hadn't existed since a nanosecond after the Big Bang, when the universe's temperature was 10,000,000,000,000,000 degrees. In the process, they hoped to detect the holy grail of high-energy physics, the long-sought-after Higgs boson, the particle whose interactions endowed other particles with mass. If their experiment worked, the Higgs, and the Nobel that would likely be awarded to its discoverers, should be theirs.
    The whole experiment was automated and precisely timed. There was no great knife switch to pull down, no trigger hidden under a spring-loaded cover to push. Yes, Lloyd had designed and Theo had coded the core modules of the program for this experiment, but everything was now under the control of a computer.
    When the digital clock reached 16:59:55 Lloyd started counting down out loud with it. "Five."
    He looked at Michiko.
    She smiled back encouragingly. God, how he loved her--
    He shifted his gaze to young Theo, the wunderkind--the kind of youthful star Lloyd had hoped to have been himself but never was.
    Theo, ever cocky, gave him a thumbs-up sign.
    Please, God . . . thought Lloyd. Please.
    And then--”
  5. Alternate View Column AV-84. Analog Science Fiction & Fact Magazine (May 1997). Retrieved on 22 May 2017. “We must learn from our disasters. Here's my list of lessons from the SSC about future large scientific projects: (1) For projects of the scale of the SSC, the DOE's 'lowball' cost shaving which omitted inflation and detector costs is inappropriate. Cost estimates must be realistic from the start and must be treated as 'sacred'. If that price is too high, so be it. It would have been better for all concerned if the SSC had never been approved rather than canceled in midstream. (2) Bureaucratic oversight of scientific projects should be applied with a light hand. Oversight overkill can destroy morale and break the budget of a project, as the SSC case demonstrates. (3) If expensive major design changes become necessary, as in the case of the 4 cm to 5 cm magnet change for the SSC, the project should go back to Congress for re-authorization and renewed support. Similarly, stretch-outs to reduce budget impact but increase overall cost should only be done with the concurrence of Congress. (4) Projects of the scale of the SSC should be designed, if possible, to span a single 8 year presidential administration. Incoming presidents feel little responsibility for the expensive initiatives and commitments of their predecessors, particularly if there has been a change of party. (5) We desperately need some way of funding long-term scientific projects like the SSC with stable funding that is better insulated from the 2-year Congressional election cycle. Doing good science is difficult enough under the best of circumstances. When politics is added to the mix, it may become impossible.”
  6. Q&A: Texas supercollider project scrapped - Tampa Bay Times (December 30, 2009). Retrieved on 22 May 2017. “It was first proposed in 1983, went through a rigorous Department of Energy review and was awarded to Texas in 1988. Construction on the 54.1-mile tunnel began in 1991. By 1993, 14.6 miles of tunnels had been built and 17 shafts sunk. But costs soared, from the original price tag of $4.4 billion in 1987 to more than $12 billion by 1993. Congress said it couldn't afford to continue, and canceled the project. Nearly $2 billion had already been spent.”
  7. What is the God particle? - Angels & Demons - The science behind the story (2017). Retrieved on 22 May 2017. “What does the Higgs boson have to do with God? The Higgs boson has nothing to do with God. It was simply a snappy term to illustrate the ubiquitous effect of the Higgs field, and its importance in determining mass.”
  8. New results indicate that new particle is a Higgs boson - CERN (14 Mar 2013). Retrieved on 22 May 2017. “Having analysed two and a half times more data than was available for the discovery announcement in July, they find that the new particle is looking more and more like a Higgs boson, the particle linked to the mechanism that gives mass to elementary particles. It remains an open question, however, whether this is the Higgs boson of the Standard Model of particle physics, or possibly the lightest of several bosons predicted in some theories that go beyond the Standard Model. Finding the answer to this question will take time.”
  9. CERN experiments observe particle consistent with long-sought Higgs boson - Media and Press Relations (4 July 2012). Retrieved on 22 May 2017. “'The results are preliminary but the 5 sigma signal at around 125 GeV we’re seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle. We know it must be a boson and it’s the heaviest boson ever found,' said CMS experiment spokesperson Joe Incandela. 'The implications are very significant and it is precisely for this reason that we must be extremely diligent in all of our studies and cross-checks.'”
  10. God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?, The. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0395558492. 
  11. The God Particle - National Geographic Magazine (March 2008). Retrieved on 22 May 2017. “On paper, the universe should be empty. But it’s full of stars and planets and charming French villages and so on. The LHC experiments may help physicists understand our good fortune to be in a universe that grew with just enough more matter than antimatter.”
  12. 5 Experiments that Could have Destroyed the World - YouTube. Retrieved on 22 May 2017.
  13. Higgs boson - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 22 May 2017. “While media use of this term may have contributed to wider awareness and interest, many scientists feel the name is inappropriate since it is sensational hyperbole and misleads readers; the particle also has nothing to do with God, leaves open numerous questions in fundamental physics, and does not explain the ultimate origin of the universe. Higgs, an atheist, was reported to be displeased and stated in a 2008 interview that he found it 'embarrassing' because it was 'the kind of misuse... which I think might offend some people'. Science writer Ian Sample stated in his 2010 book on the search that the nickname is 'universally hate[d]' by physicists and perhaps the 'worst derided' in the history of physics, but that (according to Lederman) the publisher rejected all titles mentioning 'Higgs' as unimaginative and too unknown.”
  14. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7249677.stm
  15. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Kosovo_declaration_of_independence
  16. How much actual money is there in the world? - HowStuffWorks. Retrieved on 22 May 2017. “If you just want to count actual notes and coins, there are about U.S. $1.2 trillion floating around the globe.”
  17. Bear Stearns - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 22 May 2017. “As investor losses mounted in those markets in 2006 and 2007, the company actually increased its exposure, especially the mortgage-backed assets that were central to the subprime mortgage crisis. In March 2008, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York provided an emergency loan to try to avert a sudden collapse of the company. The company could not be saved however and was sold to JP Morgan Chase for $10 per share, a price far below its pre-crisis 52-week high of $133.20 per share, but not as low as the $2 per share originally agreed upon by Bear Stearns and JP Morgan Chase.”
  18. IndyMac - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 22 May 2017. “When home prices declined in the latter half of 2007 and the secondary mortgage market collapsed, IndyMac was forced to hold $10.7 billion of loans it could not sell in the secondary market. Its reduced liquidity was further exacerbated in late June 2008 when account holders withdrew $1.55 billion or about 7.5% of IndyMac's deposits.[19] This 'run' on the thrift followed the public release of a letter from Senator Charles Schumer to the FDIC and OTS. The letter outlined the Senator’s concerns with IndyMac. While the run was a contributing factor in the timing of IndyMac’s demise, the underlying cause of the failure was the unsafe and unsound manner in which the thrift was operated.”
  19. ^DJI Historical Prices - Dow Jones Industrial Average Stock - Yahoo Finance. Retrieved on 22 May 2017.
  20. Subprime crisis impact timeline - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 22 May 2017. “August 31: President Bush announces a limited bailout of U.S. homeowners unable to pay the rising costs of their debts.[158] Ameriquest, once the largest subprime lender in the U.S., goes out of business;”
  21. Paulson, Henry M., Jr.. "Statement by Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. on Treasury and Federal Housing Finance Agency Action to Protect Financial Markets and Taxpayers", US Department of the Treasury, 2008-09-07. Retrieved on 2008-09-07. Archived from the original on September 9, 2008. 
  22. 22.00 22.01 22.02 22.03 22.04 22.05 22.06 22.07 22.08 22.09 22.10 2008 - Wikipedia.
  23. Federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
  24. "Lehman Files for Bankruptcy; Merrill is Sold", New York Times, September 14, 2008. Retrieved on March 3, 2013. 
  25. American International Group - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 22 May 2017. “$57.8 billion were structured debt securities backed by subprime loans. As a result, AIG’s credit rating was downgraded and it was required to post additional collateral with its trading counter-parties, leading to a liquidity crisis that began on September 16, 2008 and essentially bankrupted all of AIG. The United States Federal Reserve Bank stepped in, announcing the creation of a secured credit facility of up to US$85 billion to prevent the company's collapse, enabling AIG to deliver additional collateral to its credit default swap trading partners.”
  26. Jim Cramer - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 22 May 2017. “Cramer spoke again on the Today Show on October 6, 2008, suggesting to investors, 'Whatever money you need for the next five years, please take it out of the stock market.'”
  27. Raum, Tom (October 3, 2008) Bush signs $700 billion bailout bill Associated Press . Retrieved October 3, 2008. Template:Webarchive
  28. Global financial crisis of 2008
  29. Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008
  30. US Emergency Economic Stabilization fund
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 2008 Deaths - Wikipedia (2008).
  32. Heath Ledger - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 21 May 2017. “Two weeks later on 6 February 2008, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York released its conclusions, based on an initial autopsy of 23 January 2008 and a subsequent complete toxicological analysis. The report concludes, in part, 'Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine.' It states definitively: 'We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescribed medications.'”
  33. Don LaFontaine - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 21 May 2017. “He became identified with the phrase 'In a world...', used in so many movie trailers that it became a cliché. Widely known in the film industry, the man whose nicknames included 'Thunder Throat' and 'The Voice of God', became known to a wider audience through commercials for GEICO insurance and the Mega Millions lottery game.”
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 2008 in film - Wikipedia (2008). Retrieved on 27 January 2017.
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 35.3 2008 in television - Wikipedia (2008).
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 36.3 2008 in music - Wikipedia (2008). Retrieved on 30 January 2017.
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 2008 in video gaming - Wikipedia (2008).
  38. Murder-suicide: Woman, man shot dead in Redmond parking lot near Microsoft - Redmond Reporter. redmond-reporter.com (July 31st, 2008). Retrieved on 21 May 2017. “Bove said the woman, who was living with two roommates, was on her way to work at Microsoft — about two blocks from the apartment complex — when the man approached her in the parking lot. The woman was shot 'several times in the torso,' Bove said, before the man fired one shot into his own head. One of the bullets the man fired hit a white sports utility vehicle parked in the parking lot. An unfired bullet was found about 100 feet from the shooting.”
  39. FDA Issues Documents on the Safety of Food from Animal Clones
  40. Spitzer Love Client No. 9 Song - YouTube. Retrieved on 22 May 2017.
  41. Eliot Spitzer: Love Client Number 9 - YouTube. Retrieved on 22 May 2017. “News of New York governor Eliot Spitzer's call girl scandal broke on the afternoon of March 10. Within several hours, Barry Mitchell had written, produced and uploaded this scathingly funny song parody.”
  42. Eliot Spitzer as Client Number Nine - YouTube. Retrieved on 22 May 2017. “A Homage to the ex-Gov of New York State”
  43. "Sichuan 2008: A disaster on an immense scale", 2013-05-09. (en-GB) 
  44. 2008 Sichuan earthquake
  45. "Bill Gates steps down from Microsoft today", RTÉ News, June 27, 2008. Retrieved on 15 October 2010. 
  46. Beaumont, Claudine. "Bill Gates steps down as Microsoft head to concentrate on philanthropy", The Daily Telegraph, June 27, 2008. Retrieved on April 22, 2010. 
  47. Common Core State Standards Initiative - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 22 May 2017. “Development of the Common Core Standards was funded by the governors and state schools chiefs, with additional support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Pearson Publishing Company, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and others.”
  48. "Human error led to fatal train collision, spokeswoman says", CNN, September 14, 2008. Retrieved on April 22, 2010. 
  49. 2008 Chatsworth train collision
  50. Ilene R. Prusher, 'Hamas remains defiant despite pounding' Christian Science Monitor 13 January 2009. Csmonitor.com (2009-01-13). Retrieved on 2010-06-05.
  51. Bright, Arthur. Israel set to launch ‘limited operation’ in Gaza, Christian Science Monitor, December 26, 2008.
  52. Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem. "Israel rejects war crimes findings of UN Gaza inquiry | World news | guardian.co.uk", The Guardian, September 16, 2009. Retrieved on 2010-05-08. 
  53. Gaza War (2008–09)

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