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Smart Dust
Dust Storm Gobi Desert

Among the directives outlined in China's new five-year defense plan is the creation of a smart dust surveillance network. This will be comprised of speckle-sized devices that can sense environmental conditions, such as light, temperature and humidity. More importantly, they can gather civilian and military intelligence. Their tiny dimensions mean they are difficult to detect and can squeeze through the narrowest of gaps in doors, windows and walls. They can communicate with each other wirelessly, as well as transmit data to a nearby command center or remote satellite.

Dust, already pervasive and a nuisance to allergy sufferers and the obsessive compulsive, will become even more intrusive, as invasive as sand in your crotch. They'll gather on tables and floors, collect in corners and in your hair, where they'll rest silently listening for aberrant civility. In such a domestic space relinquished to the state, dusting, vacuuming and other quotidian chores turn into political acts of subversion.

Meanwhile, for cross-border espionage, artificial weather stations in the Gobi Desert will churn and whirl up massive dust storms. It'll simply be a matter of turning on the spigot. Hit the switch, and the earth will reach out with vaporous tendrils. When these have nicely thickened, a liberal sprinkling of smart dusts will be added to create a heady stew, which in a day or two will paint vermillion skies over Beijing before crossing the seas and choking the cities of the Koreas, Japan and, much further afield, the Pacific coast of the United States.

This is impossible to confirm at the moment.

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