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On the Record

“The American people, our friends, and our potential adversaries must be confident that the highest standards are in place when it comes to our nuclear arsenal.”

Ike Skelton, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, reacts to the news that B52 bombers accidentally flew nuclear warheads over several states last week with some comforting, yet also strangely chilling, words.

Number crunch


5 is the average number of oak trees now succumbing to old age each year in Britain's Sherwood Forest, home of the fabled Robin Hood.

300 is the minimum age of most of the forest's mature oaks, because of a hiatus in planting that has left the forest's population skewed towards older trees.

£50 million is the amount (US$100 million) that the forest's managers are asking for from Britain's national lottery fund to plant more trees — Robin would surely have approved.


Smile recognition

Japanese companies Omron and Sony have both developed camera software that can recognize smiling and laughing faces.

Video games

A rare breed of beetle is in danger of being wiped out from its habitat in Turkey after a video game called Mushiking ('Insect King') sparked a Japanese craze for the real-life version.



With Christmas fast approaching (sort of), a reworking of the classic board game Monopoly aims to combine the thrill of palaeontology with the magic of capitalism.

Sources:, Reuters, The Japan Times, AFP, The Times,

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Sidelines. Nature 449, 125 (2007).

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