Greg Mankiw, an economics professor at Harvard, thanked Lehman, Merrill, AIG, etc. for increasing interest in his economics class. For anyone who doesn't read the news, Lehman declared bankruptcy, Merrill is selling out to BoA, and AIG is exploring their "options". This is the biggest banking shakeup since the great depression. The silver lining is that lots of Harvard students are signing up for Professor Mankiw's class.
So, are there any items in the news that have done this for human factors? The Palm Beach Ballot in 2000 did this to some extent. The Mars Explorer crashing into Mars was a small example. Any other suggestions?