NPR Picks

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."

 

Monday
Jul252011

Florida Fossil Hunter Gets Credit For Big Find

"It's one of the most significant pieces of prehistoric art ever found in North America — a carving of a mammoth or mastodon on a piece of fossilized bone dating back to the Ice Age. An amateur fossil hunter found it several years ago in Vero Beach, Florida. Now, after three years of study, a team of researchers say they believe it's authentic."

Saturday
Jul232011

What is the World's Favorite Number?

It's a simple question, really, but a cunning one, because the answers are so embarrassingly, voluptuously personal. Alex Bellos thought it up. He's a writer, math enthusiast, and nut.

Here's what he wants: He wants to know your favorite number. Just that. Tell me your favorite, and tell me why, he says.

Monday
Jul182011

Interview of George R. R. Martin

"George R. R. Martin is best known as the man behind the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. The latest volume, A Dance With Dragons, is now in bookstores after an epic six-year wait. An HBO series based on the first book, A Game of Thrones, just wrapped up its Emmy-nominated first season."

"But in the 1980s, Martin was a television writer, churning out scripts for shows like Beauty and the Beast."

 

Saturday
Jul162011

Fibonacci's 'Numbers': The Man Behind the Math 

"Though generations of schoolchildren have cursed arithmetic, the world was a much more inconvenient place without it. Before the advent of modern arithmetic in the 13th century, basic calculations required a physical abacus."

"But then came a young Italian mathematician named Leonardo da Pisa — no relation to da Vinci — who, in 1202, published a book titled Liber Abaci. That's Latin for 'Book of Calculation.'"