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The Snow Man: China Delivers Unique Snowflakes to Masses


Last Summer, China kept Beijing's skies clear, mostly, during the Olympics by shooting chemicals into clouds — or cloud seeding, as it's called. It ensured rainclouds spilled themselves somewhere, anywhere, away from the Olympic games. Now the country's at it again, only this time it's to ease a three-month drought that's dried up 12 of China's 23 provinces.

Cloud seeding injects silver iodide, dry ice, and salt into the sky, accelerating the natural process. Though little scientific evidence exists to say it works, Chinese scientists gladly accept credit when it does. And while it's not considered harmful (well, maybe a little?), it can go awry.

Last year Russia was clearing the sky for a national holiday (it's routine!), when an iodide-ice-salt mix failed to dissolve and a hunk of cement fell from the sky, oops, damaging a house but not hurting anyone.

Thankfully no cement fell on China this week, just three days of artificially inseminated snow. It was a rare treat for the Beijing area; twice as many tourists as usual came to the Great Wall. Huh. Maybe it should snow more often?

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