Musicians treasure the small number of Stradivarius violins that were made in the small area of Cremona, Italy in the 17th century. Modern manufacturers have struggled in vain to make instruments that have the same musical qualities. Now a tree-ring dating expert and a climatologist have discovered the secret of the Stradivarius.

Henri Grissino-Mayer and Lloyd Burckle say the “Little Ice Age” in Europe, which lasted from the mid-1400s until the mid-1800s, produced long winters and cool summers that slowed down tree growth, making the wood used for the violins incredibly dense.
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Ice ages may occur when our Solar System passes through thespiral arms of the Milky Way during our orbit around thecenter of the galaxy. Dr. Nir Shaviv of the University ofToronto has found evidence linking changes in the cosmicrays reaching the Earth and the times that ice ages occurredin the past.

He believes that the cosmic rays come from stars thatexplode as the Earth exits one of the Milky Way’s spiralarms. The increased cosmic rays then trigger ice ages on Earth.If this is true, we won?t have another ice age for tens ofmillions of years, since our Solar System is not due toleave another spiral arm for a very long time.
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A study of North Atlantic ice suggests that the brightening and dimming of the sun may cause a 1,500-year cycle of cooling and warming on parts of the Earth. Researchers have found that a very slight difference in the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth can have a powerful effect on the climate. As ice builds up in lands bordering the North Atlantic, the average temperature drops in Europe and North America.

Gerard C. Bond, a researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University in Palisades, New York, says, ?Whether the whole Earth is affected, we don?t know for sure yet, but it is certainly implied. The effect does extend from the high northern latitudes down, maybe even to the tropics.?
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