This Week In History: September 10-16


This week in history: Large Hadron Collider Powers Up, Attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and “The Star Spangled Banner” completed. Read more below and dive deeper with The Great Courses Plus.

September 10, 2008 – The Large Hadron Collider Powers Up

Tunnel of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) of the European Organization for Nuclear Research. with all the Magnets and Instruments. The shown part of the tunnel is located under the LHC P8, near the LHCb.

Nine years ago today the Large Hadron Collider would be powered up for the first time near Geneva, Switzerland. Built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) over a period of 10 years, the Large Hadron Collider is the largest particle collider housed in the most complex experimental facility in the world. The Collider’s purpose is to help scientists test theories regarding particle physics, including studying the properties of the Higgs Boson, the relationship between quantum mechanics and relativity, and other unsolved questions in the study of physic

s. Though the Large Hadron Collider was initially turned on on this date, problems with magnets in the structure caused significant damage, postponing its initial run to 2010 in order for repairs to be made.

Learn more about the Large Hadron Collider and what it can tell us in The Higgs Boson and Beyond

September 11, 2001 – Attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon

It was a beautiful Tuesday morning when Manhattan had one of its biggest disasters. Two commercial jets hit into the Twin Towers (World Trade Center) not too long apart from each other. Pillars of smoke could be seen for miles away, rising high into the air. Further south, an airplane steered towards Washington DC crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. In the nation’s capital, another plane found its mark and destroyed the western side of the Pentagon.

These attacks, perpetrated by al-Qaeda, killed almost 3,000 people in the buildings and planes. This is excluding the thousands of injuries and deaths due to clean up efforts later on. The United States responded to these attacks with the War on Terror, a military conflict that is still ongoing at the time of this writing.

Learn more about the US and the Middle East conflicts and history in The U.S. and the Middle East: 1914 to 9/11

September 16, 1814 – Francis Scott Key Completes “The Star Spangled Banner”

It was on this day in 1814 that lawyer and poet Francis Scott Key would complete his poem “The Defence of Fort M’Henry” from which “The Star Spangled Banner” is derived. Key was inspired to write the poem after observing a large American flag flying over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore in 1812. The poem would be set to music shortly after its publication, but it would not be until the 20th century that “The Star Spangled Banner” would be declared the national anthem. President Woodrow Wilson declared in 1916 that the song should be played at military functions and other appropriate occasions, but it would not be until 1931 that Herbert Hoover would sign into law the bill proclaiming “The Star Spangled Banner” as the national anthem of the United States.

Learn more about the Star Spangled Banner in Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour through American History