Thursday, July 17, 2008

600th anniversary of a little known tragedy

Today is the 600th anniversary of a little-known tragedy in the history of the Catholic church that modern scientific knowledge could have averted. In the late 14th and early 15th centuries the Catholic church was riven by rival Popes and Antipopes, but few know the story of an attempt at reconciliation that took place in 1408. On this date, the rival pope and antipope came together at a neutral location on the French/Swiss border to discuss the schism.

Unfortunately, without the benefit of 20th century physics, nobody could have foreseen what happened next. As soon as they met, the pope and antipope mutually annihilated, releasing a blast of energy that destroyed the surrounding countryside and killed all in attendance. The church quickly covered up this traumatic loss, and it would be another decade before the papal lines were reunified.

In an amazingly coincidental footnote, what now stands on that spot is... the Large Hadron Collider!

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