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    Naturevolume 441page913 (2006) | Download Citation

    Subjects

    On the Record

    “Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of.”

    Cosmologist Stephen Hawking delivers an upbeat assessment of why humans should colonize space.

    Source: AP

    Scorecard

    Dirty rats

    A study of sewer rats reveals that they have healthier immune systems than their hygienically protected laboratory cousins, leading scientists to ponder the medical value of filth.

    David Beckham

    A branding study shows that British children are obsessed with celebrities. Top of the pile is the England football captain, who is more on the kids' minds than the toys and clothes marketed at them.

    Sunscreen

    US toxicologists find that nanoparticles used in some sunscreens and cosmetics might be able to cause damage to nerve cells, at least in mice.

    Overhyped

    Chinese engineers

    Last autumn, the US National Academies set off alarm bells in Washington with a report claiming, among other things, that China had produced 600,000 engineering graduates last year to America's 70,000. The numbers were compelling enough to help convince President Bush to endorse a multi-billion-dollar ‘competitiveness initiative’.

    But this week, the academies quietly revised the China number to 350,000 and the US number to 140,000. Why? It seems that the original report was comparing apples with oranges. Or in this case, fully fledged US engineers with the Chinese equivalent of car mechanics.

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    https://doi.org/10.1038/441913a

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