The all powerful Google and their impenetrable server farms took a major hit last night, when the news about Michael Jackson suffering a cardiac arrest and ultimately passing away broke. As CNN and News.com shows, Google was displaying one of those Google "We're Sorry" pages to searches trying desperately to find out the fate of Michael Jackson. Even Search Engine Land was suffering from the news, as the tweet confirms.
I remember during 9/11, sites across the Internet couldn't handle the volume of people seeking news about what was going on. I believe back then, the only working site was Google News, probably because it wasn't being used by as many people as use it now. The spike of people searching for Michael Jackson, amongst Farrah Fawcett and the fake news about Jeff Goldblum was tremendous.
As you can imagine, there is a lot of discussion around the death of Michael Jackson. I will only point you to webmaster discussion, which is a lot less for some reason. It is worth while seeing how Loren Baker sums up how the search engines handled queries on this news.