Genius moments: September 2008

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The not so Big Bang

The statistics were thrilling – when it was switched on, the Large Hadron Collider at Cern, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, would fire two beams of protons in opposite directions around the 27km underground tunnel before making them collide at 99.9999991 per cent of the speed of light in an attempt to simulate the Big Bang. Andrew Marr did his best to sex up the countdown on Radio 4's "Big Bang Day", but the flick of the switch came and went without a flash or a bang. Nine days later a magnet broke and the LHC was shut down. The LHC: not unlike your boiler then.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

Swiss daredevil Yves Rossy fulfilled the dreams of a million schoolboys by sprouting wings to fly from France to England. The 49-year-old former fighter pilot jumped out of a plane above Calais with a jet-propelled carbon-fibre wing strapped to his back. He rocketed across the Channel at 186mph before landing in a field near Dover. "I showed it is possible to fly a little bit like a bird," he said.

The tiger in Putin's tank

My name is Vlad! Feel my power! Last year, the Russian prime minister went topless fishing in Siberia; this summer, he returned to the same area but upped the stakes, shooting a tiger. Not properly, with a tranquiliser – but still, hard as nails. Ostensibly, he was aiding researchers in their monitoring of the big cats. But, ah, the subtext... could Vlad's macho display have anything to do with the fact that Russia had just piled into Georgia? And wasn't about to leave?

McCain gets his chips

You've got to love Sarah Palin. Or maybe not. Perhaps most compelling was the Katie Couric interview on CBS, in which Palin seemed so clueless that in a later Saturday Night Live sketch, Palin impressionist Tina Fey didn't need to write a script. Other YouTube nails in the McCain campaign coffin included the equally cringe-making interview with Charlie Gibson and, more recently, the post-election "Turkey" interview, in which birds were slaughtered behind an unflinching Palin, who had just pardoned a Turkey for Thanksgiving.

The apes of wrath

Tory MP Andrew Rosindell got a little too close to the natives when, on a trip to Gibraltar, the MP for Romford came under attack from one of the island's resident primates. "I popped up the Rock just to see how [the Barbary macaques] were getting on when one came along and took a bite out of my left shoulder," he says. Mr Rosindell is, of course, the Conservatives' animal welfare spokesman...

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