Shuttle Columbia disaster
the conclusion of the STS-107 mission, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated during reentry over Texas, killing all seven astronauts inside. The loss
of Columbia was a result of damage sustained during launch,
when a piece of foam insulation the size of a small briefcase broke
off the Space Shuttle external tank (the main propellant tank) under
the aerodynamic forces of launch. The debris struck the leading edge
of the left wing, damaging the Shuttle's thermal protection system,
which was unable to protect it from heat generated by the atmospheric
invasion of Iraq
invasion of Iraq was led by the United States, alongside the United
Kingdom and smaller contingents from other countries. The initial invasion
phase lasted from 20th March to 1st May and involved troops from the
US (248,000), UK (45,000), Australia (2,000) and Poland (194). 36 other
countries were involved in its aftermath.
to then President of the United States, George Bush, and then Prime
Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, the reasons for the invasion
were "to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), to end
Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people."
According to Blair, the trigger was Iraq's failure to take a "final
opportunity" to disarm itself of nuclear, chemical and biological
weapons that US and UK officials called an immediate and intolerable
threat to world peace.
some remnants of pre-1991 production were found after the end of the
war, US government spokespersons confirmed that these were not the weapons
for which the US went to war. In 2005, the CIA released a report saying that no weapons of mass destruction had been
found in Iraq.
2007, the Iraqi government reported that there were 5 million orphans
in Iraq – nearly half of the country's children. According to the UN,
Iraq's health had deteriorated to a level not seen since the 1950s.
Malnutrition rates had risen from 19% before the US-led invasion to
a national average of 28% four years later. Some 60-70% of Iraqi children
were suffering from psychological problems. 68% of Iraqis had no access
to safe drinking water. A cholera outbreak in northern Iraq was thought
to be the result of poor water quality. As many as half of Iraqi doctors
left the country between 2003 and 2007.
the lowest credible estimate of civilian casualties in both Iraq and
Afghanistan was around 850,000 – about 283 times as many than were killed
in the attacks of 9/11. Put another way: over 121 times as many people
had been killed in these wars and occupations than in all terrorist
attacks in the world from 1993-2004, according to data compiled by the
US State Department. Throughout
the entire Iraq War and occupation there were countless human rights
abuses. The financial
cost of the war had been more than $845 billion to the US, with the
total cost to the US economy estimated at $3 trillion.
Human Genome Project is completed
Human Genome Project was an international scientific effort
with a primary goal to determine the sequence of chemical base pairs
which make up DNA and to map the 20,000+ genes of the human genome from
both a physical and functional standpoint.
The project began
in 1990. About halfway through, critics pointed out that given
the rate at which the genome could then be scanned, it would take hundreds of years to finish. However,
a working draft of the genome was released in 2000 and a complete one
in 2003. This was made possible thanks to exponential progress – like
many areas of science, information on the base pairs was actually doubling
every year and required only a few more doublings to reach 100%.
In addition to nearly $1 trillion of economic returns,* the project
brings huge long-term benefits to the world of science and medicine.
Knowledge of the effects of variation of DNA among individuals can revolutionise
the ways to diagnose, treat and prevent a number of diseases that affect
human beings, as well as providing clues to the understanding of
biology as a whole.
heatwaves kill tens of thousands in Europe
2003 European heat wave was among the hottest summers ever recorded
in Europe. It led to a health crisis in several countries and combined
with drought to produce a crop shortfall. Seven days with temperatures
of greater than 40°C (104 °F) were recorded in France. More than
37,000 died as a result, mostly the elderly.
Above: 2003 heatwave temperature variations in comparison
to normal temperatures in Europe.
was launched in August 2003 and quickly became one of the most popular
social networking sites on the web. In 2006, the 100 millionth account
was created. However, it was overtaken by its main competitor – Facebook – during April 2008, based on monthly unique visitors.
launches its first manned space mission
15th October 2003, China successfully placed its manned "Shenzhou
5" spacecraft in orbit. This followed four previous missions
of which three were unmanned and one carried animals. Shenzhou
a single astronaut – Yang Liwei. It was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite
Launch Center in the Gobi Desert, using a Long March 2F rocket booster.
5 was made up of three components: a service module, orbital module
and reentry module. The orbital module spent 21 hours above the Earth,
reaching a maximum height of 336 km (209 mi). It contained various experimental
equipment and was left in space, along with the service module. The
reentry component returned to Earth after orbiting the planet 14 times.
mission, China became only the third country in the world to have independently
put humans in space. Following this success, two more manned
missions were launched, Shenzhou 6 in 2005 and Shenzhou 7 in 2008.
However, China still received some criticism for its expensive space
program, with some saying the money could have been better spent elsewhere.