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    Naturevolume 440page390 (2006) | Download Citation

    Subjects

    On the record

    “I'm sorry if I'm making people a little frightened, but I feel it's my role.“

    Virologist Robert Webster warns that bird flu could kill half the world's population.

    “On shuttle missions we often see mosquitoes...They seem very confused and die very quickly.”

    A space-station astronaut comments on creatures that are unwittingly launched into space.

    Sources: ABC News, ARRL

    Scorecard

    Flying saucers

    Patent-spotters unearth a 1973 British Rail patent that seems to be for a futuristic craft running on ‘thermonuclear fusion’. Sadly, the project never made it off the ground.

    Compost canard

    Entomologists squelch the rumour that gardening mulch made from trees felled by Hurricane Katrina is packed with destructive Formosan termites from the area.

    Sandy snow

    Dust storms in Northern China cause yellowish snow to fall across South Korea. Health officials warn that breathing in the sandy flakes might have ill effects.

    Overhyped

    The Tunguska blast

    The meteorite that exploded above Siberia in 1908 has been credited with felling 60 million trees over 2,000 km2. Now it is being blamed for global warming. Vladimir Shaidurov of the Russian Academy of Sciences says that the impact may have disturbed the distribution of atmospheric water vapour and increased global temperatures. But the big blast wouldn't have done this, many climate scientists counter. Among other objections, they argue that the localized explosion could not have kicked off an unstoppable change in the dynamics of Earth's atmosphere.

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    https://doi.org/10.1038/440390a

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