The global trade in arms was turned on its head by the end of the Cold War. Now an analysis of the network of arms trading has revealed other disturbing trends.

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The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute is a world-renowned think tank that focuses on conflict, arms control and disarmament. Each year, it gathers data on the international transfer of major conventional weapons across the globe. These include aircraft, armoured vehicles, naval vessels and so on.

The resulting database provides a detailed picture of the international flow of arms. And a wide variety of organisations and researchers have used it to study the nature of the international arms trade. This data provides a clear picture of the major arms exporters, the major arms importers and the value of this flow.

But arms sales depend on other geopolitical factors such as the wealth of the countries involved, the conventional trade between them, the similarities in their internal politics and even the distance between buyer and seller. But exactly how these factors influence the arms trade is poorly understood. …

Astronomers have worked out a technique that would make it possible to discover, for the first time, a mountain on a planet outside our solar system.

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The discovery of planets orbiting other stars is among the most important and exciting in modern science. It turns out that our galaxy is teeming with these exoplanets — astronomers find them everywhere they look, thousands of them so far, with the certainty of many more to come.

And that has given rise to a new discipline devoted to investigating what exoplanets are like. The first breakthroughs have revealed the size of these planets, how quickly they orbit their parent suns, and whether they sit in the so-called habitable zone where liquid water could exist.

But astronomers want to know more and are planning another generation of powerful telescopes to find out. What will this new imaging technology reveal about our these distant worlds? …


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