NPR Picks

Tuesday
Aug232011

Giant Camera Will Hunt For Dark Energy

"A giant and powerful digital camera is about to be shipped from a lab near Chicago to a telescope in Chile to study a mysterious part of the universe called dark energy."

"Dark energy makes up most of our universe, but scientists currently know almost nothing about it except that it seems to be making the expansion of our universe speed up."

Monday
Aug222011

Much More Than A Muse: Lee Miller and Man Ray

"A new exhibit celebrates the work of two Surrealist artists: first lovers, and later, friends. Elizabeth Lee Miller was an actress, a model, and a war correspondent, who had an intoxicating effect on her lovers. One of those lovers was the avant-garde American artist Man Ray. His love for her nearly drove him to madness — and also inspired some of his most well-known work."

"Miller was Ray's muse, but she became an accomplished photographer in her own right. Now, their work is displayed together for the first time at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., in an exhibit called Man Ray/Lee Miller, Partners in Surrealism."

Sunday
Aug212011

Trying To Unravel The Mysteries of Arctic Warming

"The Arctic is heating up faster than anyplace on Earth. And as it heats, the ice is growing thinner and melting faster. Scientists say that sometime this century, the Arctic Ocean could be free of ice during the summers. And that transition is likely to be chaotic."

"Arctic sea ice has always seen dramatic swings. Every winter, the ocean is completely covered with ice. It starts to melt in the late spring, and by September about half that ice has melted away."

Saturday
Aug202011

Don't Throw It Out: 'Junk DNA' Essential In Evolution

"There's a revolution under way in biology. Scientists are coming to understand that genetics isn't just about genes. Just as important are smaller sequences of DNA that control genes."

"These so-called regulatory elements tell genes when to turn on and off, and when to stop functioning altogether. A new study suggests that changes in these non-gene sequences of DNA may hold the key to explaining how all species evolved."

Thursday
Aug182011

Scientists Crack The Physics of Coffee Rings

"A lot of simple things in science turn out to be quite complicated. Take, for example, coffee: You may have noticed that a spilled drop of coffee doesn't dry as a brown blob, but rather as a clear blob with a dark ring around the edge."

"It's taken physicists more than a decade to figure out why this effect, known technically as "the coffee ring effect," happens. But now they think they have an answer."

Wednesday
Aug172011

Magician Penn Jillette Says 'God, No!' To Religion

"Even if you believe in God, you might still be atheist. That's what Penn Jillette argues in his new book God, No! Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales."

"The louder half of the magician duo Penn & Teller — of Showtime's Pen & Teller: Bull - - - - — frames his new book as the atheist's Ten Commandments. In it, he wanders from rants about the war on drugs to stories of eating shellfish and bacon cheeseburgers with Hasidic Jews."

Tuesday
Aug162011

Why Cleaned Wastewater Stays Dirty In Our Minds

"At the time, a number of California's local water agencies were proposing a different approach to the state's perennial water problems. They wanted to build plants that would clean local wastewater — aka sewage water — and after that cleaning, make it available as drinking water. But, says Haddad, these proposals were consistently shot down by an unwilling public."

Monday
Aug152011

Jumping Dogs And Photo-Toons: Meet Photographer Elliott Erwitt

"Photographer Elliott Erwitt loves babies, bare bottoms and dogs — specifically, jumping dogs. And he'll go to great lengths — however unorthodox — to get the shot. To get a dog to jump? Bark at it, Erwitt says: "You have to speak their language. ... Sometimes they bark back, sometimes they jump." But it's a perilous approach. "Once, one of them peed on my leg as a consequence," he says."

Saturday
Aug132011

The Human Toll Of The War 'To End All Wars'

"The human cost of World War I was enormous. More than 9 million soldiers and an estimated 12 million civilians died in the four-year-long conflict, which also left 21 million military men wounded."

"Many of them were missing arms, legs, hands, genitals or driven mad by shell shock," says historian Adam Hochschild. "But there was also a human cost in a larger sense, in that I think the war remade the world for the worse in every conceivable way: It ignited the Russian Revolution, it laid the ground for Nazism and it made World War II almost certain. It's pretty hard to imagine the second world war without the first."

Friday
Aug122011

Tom Wolfe: Chronicling Counterculture's 'Acid Test'

"The new documentary Magic Trip: Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place gathers never before seen footage shot during the Merry Pranskters' LSD-fueled bus trip across America in 1964. Kesey, the author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, was the ring leader. The bus was driven by Neal Cassady, who was the inspiration for the main character in the Jack Kerouac novel On the Road."

"The new documentary Magic Trip: Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place gathers never before seen footage shot during the Merry Pranskters' LSD-fueled bus trip across America in 1964. Kesey, the author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, was the ring leader. The bus was driven by Neal Cassady, who was the inspiration for the main character in the Jack Kerouac novel On the Road."

Thursday
Aug112011

Your Picks: Top Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

"More than 5,000 of you nominated. More than 60,000 of you voted. And now the results are in. The winners of NPR's Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy survey are an intriguing mix of classic and contemporary titles. Over on NPR's pop culture blog, Monkey See, you can find one fan's thoughts on how the list shaped up, get our experts' take, and get a chance to share your own."

I read 18 of the top 25 picks, but not the top pick Lord of the Rings.

Tuesday
Aug092011

Evangelicals Question the Existence of Adam and Eve

"Let's go back to the beginning — all the way to Adam and Eve, and to the question: Did they exist, and did all of humanity descend from that single pair?"

"According to the Bible (Genesis 2:7), this is how humanity began: "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." God then called the man Adam, and later created Eve from Adam's rib."

I am surprised that NPR aired this segment. I am sure they will hear lots of negative comments from the people of myth because they do not want their beliefs shattered by the facts.

Monday
Aug082011

Little Pictures, Big Lives: Snapshots of American ArtistsAndy Warhol and friends at the beach in the 1940s

"Whether you're on vacation or stay-cation this summer, chances are you're taking pictures. Smartphones make picture-taking easier and more popular than ever. But in earlier years, photography was more of an event. At the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art, an exhibition called "Little Pictures, Big Lives" shows snapshots from the 1920s through the '60s. And many of the people in these photos happen to be some of this country's greatest artists."

Saturday
Aug062011

The French Are Getting Fatter, Too

"As the United States struggles to cope with obesity rates, France is often looked to as a counterexample. Yet obesity is on the rise there as well now, and though French culinary traditions are often credited with keeping people trim, some worry those eating habits are under assault."

Friday
Aug052011

Three New NASA Missions Will Tour The Solar System

"NASA's space shuttle may be down for the count, but robotic planetary missions are up, up and away. Before the end of this year, three new solar system probes are due to launch."

1. Juno To Jupiter

2. GRAIL To the moon

3. Curiosity To Mars

 

Thursday
Aug042011

Early Earth May Have Been Orbited By Two Moons

"The early Earth had two moons instead of just one — our familiar moon, as well as a smaller companion moon that also rose and set in the sky for tens of millions of years."

"That's according to a new theory that says this smaller moon eventually went careening into our moon and is still there, in the form of mountains on its far side."

Monday
Aug012011

The Theft that Made the Mona Lisa a Masterpiece

"If you were standing outside the Louvre in Paris on the morning of Aug. 21, 1911, you might have noticed three men hurrying out of the museum. They would have been pretty conspicuous on a quiet Monday morning, writer and historian James Zug tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz."

 

Saturday
Jul302011

Tim Minchin: Confessions of a Rock n Roll Nerd

"Tim Minchin is a tough act to explain. He's a musician, a satirist and a comedian; a frustrated rocker, an accomplished composer and an outspoken skeptic; a man who loves children as much as he does expletives."

"In 2005, the English-Australian performer won the award for Best Newcomer at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In just a few years, Minchin has gone from playing small clubs to selling out the Sydney Opera House and the largest arenas in Britain. He tells Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon that creating his act — which combines elements of music, theater and comedy — took a little trial and error."

Saturday
Jul302011

What Will Watch As Drones Evolve?

"Every week it seems there are reports about U.S. drones — unmanned, remote-controlled aerial vehicles — tracking down suspected terrorists in remote, unreachable areas of Yemen, Somalia, Libya or Pakistan. Drone technology is becoming increasingly affordable and accessible, with new potential for everyday use in the United States — and new worries for national security."

Tuesday
Jul262011

Starship Smackdown

"Football fans have the Super Bowl. Soccer fans have The World Cup. Sci-fi geeks have Starship Smackdown."