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The Macro View

This millipede [magnified 7.5 times] is the leggiest of 12 specimens plucked from the California soil.

Sun Burn

Solar storms can knock out power on Earth.
New satellites will help us predict where and when Spewing billions of tons of plasma millions of miles into space, the sun´s eruptions, like this explosion captured by NASA´s SOHO probe, can be strikingly beautiful. But when they result in what scientists call coronal mass ejections-think seething bubbles of flung-off plasma-they can short-circuit satellites and trigger powerful magnetic shock waves that result in electrical power failures on Earth. NASA´s $540-million STEREO mission, whose two satellites were scheduled to launch in late August, is designed to capture 3-D images that identify Earth-bound solar storms days before their effects reach us. Positioned at points ahead of and behind the Earth in its orbit, the satellites will work like a pair of eyes to more precisely measure a storm´s size and location-and let us identify it in time to take action and prevent damage.

The First Wave

A Yangtze River demolition destroys the last barrier to the largest dam in history It took 191 tons of dynamite to unleash the full force of the Yangtze River on China´s Three Gorges Dam in early June. The blasts destroyed the temporary structure that held back the river during construction of the main dam and sent nearly seven million cubic feet of concrete debris into the water-enough rubble to fill 76 Olympic-size swimming pools. The huge blasts were a fitting way to christen an epic project. At 1.4 miles wide, Three Gorges is the biggest hydroelectric dam ever-about five times as large as Hoover Dam. It´s also the most expensive, with a $25-billion-plus price tag. By 2008 it´s expected to churn out 22,400 megawatts, or enough juice to power New York City twice over.