(Note: This post was first published on Dec. 14. It was reposted Monday — the 26th — because that's when it was broadcast on Morning Edition.)
The Voyager 1 spacecraft is 11 billion miles from the sun. And every minute, it gets 636 miles closer to its destination: the frontier of interstellar space.
The craft is currently in what NASA calls, not undramatically, "the boundary between the solar wind from the Sun and the interstellar wind from death-explosions of other stars," an area that astrophysicists also call, less dramatically, a stagnation layer.
Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 12:57 pm
NASA is on the brink of putting a man-made craft into interstellar space for the first time, as Voyager 1 speeds toward the outer edge of our solar system. The Voyager program's chief scientist, Dr. Ed Stone, spoke with NPR's Steve Inskeep about that feat, and what it means for NASA.
Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 1:12 pm
"On behalf of a grateful nation, I'm proud to finally say these two words and I know your famlies agree:
With that, President Obama began an address today at North Carolina's Fort Bragg, where he continued to mark the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq by talking with some of the troops who served in that nearly nine-year conflict.
A Hatzolah ambulance crew at the scene of a fire at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun synagogue in New York City last summer. Some Hasidic women want to form their own EMT unit within the Orthodox Jewish ambulance service to help women keep their modesty during emergency baby deliveries.
If you live in New York City, you will often see the Orthodox Jewish ambulance service known as Hatzolah on the street. Hatzolah has some 1,200 volunteers — all men — in New York City and is known for its quick response time.
Now, a group of Hasidic female EMTs wants to create a women's division within Hatzolah, to help deliver babies in emergencies.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a document yesterday that got no attention on the nightly news, or almost anywhere, really. Its title, I'm sure you'll agree, is a snooze: National Nutrient Management Standard.
Yet this document represents the agency's best attempt to solve one of the country's — and the world's — really huge environmental problems: The nitrogen and phosphorus that pollute waterways.
Christmas without cookies sounds like something the Grinch would dream up. But that may be the sad fate of many Norwegians, with a national butter shortage less than two weeks before the holiday. No krumkaker. No Berlinerkranser. No sandbakkel. In short, no delicious, butter-infused treats.
U.S. Army Lt. Adam Wilson from Ontario, Calif., shakes hands with Sheik Mahmood Al-Ghizzi, possibly for the last time, on Dec. 5 in Nasiriyah, Iraq. The two men met for a final lunch as the U.S. military prepares to leave Iraq after a nearly nine-year presence.
Credit Joe Raedle / Getty Images
President Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (second from left) participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday. Maliki was in Washington for talks ahead of the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq this month.
Credit Olivier Douliery / Getty Images
Iraqi Shiite Muslims march in a parade on Dec. 1 in Baghdad. As U.S. troops prepare to leave, the security situation in some parts of the country remains uncertain.
There's a nice contrast among the three quintets heard on Dave Douglas' Three Views, sketching out some of his interests. There's no overlapping repertoire or personnel. The Orange Afternoons session features the elastic rhythm trio of pianist Vijay Iyer, Linda Oh on bass and drummer Marcus Gilmore.
Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 9:55 am
There are "new insights into the murky sources of Hezbollah's money," The New York Timesreports this morning, that point to "the direct involvement of high-level Hezbollah officials in the South American cocaine trade."
Here's the story's money quote:
"One agent involved in the investigation compared Hezbollah to the Mafia, saying, 'They operate like the Gambinos on steroids.' "
This was a terrific year for fiction and a particularly strong year for first-time novelists. Some of the literary debutantes who glide through this "10 best" list are so young, their wisdom teeth probably haven't had time to become impacted yet. Majestically bringing up the rear of the procession are some much-decorated veterans whose sustained achievements in fiction should ensure that the young 'uns don't rest too comfortably on their laurels.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. For a Montana woman who lost her Christmas shopping money in J.C. Penney, Black Friday sure looked like a bad deal. Carrie McNeese had stashed $300 in a plain envelope, along with a few receipts and her grandchildren's clothing sizes.
Those few clues, combined with a surveillance tape, helped Penney's loss-prevention supervisor identify the shopper who dropped the envelope, and reunite her with her cash. Now, that is a return policy.
The paper wrote of horse-drawn carriages in New York's Central Park, calling them "hansom cabs." That's wrong, since the carriages have four wheels. Hansom cabs have two. A Times investigation reveals a reader noted this mistake in a letter to the editor in 1985. The paper published the letter but went on to repeat the error for decades.
One hundred years ago Wednesday, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his team were the first to reach the South Pole on skis. Veteran traveler Felicity Aston is nearing another first: becoming the first woman to ski across Antarctica alone.
Reached by NPR by satellite phone early Wednesday morning, Aston was about a degree and a half — 100 miles — from the South Pole. For Aston, a degree is about four days skiing. She's been skiing for 20 days. Overall, Aston will travel about 1,000 miles.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
Let's get a look, now, at two war-torn countries. One that Americans are leaving, and another that they would like to leave. One is Iraq whereas, we'll hear in a moment, departing U.S. troops leave behind some unresolved conflicts.
In the middle of a debt crisis and with a French presidential election looming, lawmakers from the left and right found something to agree on: prostitution. After years of taking a relaxed approach to prostitution, France may be about to outlaw the practice - not on the seller's part, but on the buyer's. Eleanor Beardsley has the story.
The share of all U.S. adults who are married has dropped to a record low 51 percent, according to a new report. If the trend continues, the institution will soon lose its majority status in American life.
The report being released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center finds new marriages dropped a sharp 5 percent last year, which is very likely related to the bad economy. Pew senior writer D'Vera Cohn says it fits with a larger trend.
There is no set menu for the southern Italian Christmas Eve tradition called the Feast of the Seven Fishes — and no one seems to know why there are seven. Stumped about what to make for your own feast? <a href="http://www.npr.org/2011/11/23/142699524/stuffed-squid">Here, a dish for stuffed squid</a> submitted as part of this series on holiday food traditions.
The southern Italian Christmas Eve tradition known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes has become a tradition for Italian-American families as well.
Cindy Coddington, who grew up with the traditional meal in her family, remembers the day as a whirlwind of family and fry pans.
"Ours was fried shrimp, fried scallops, pan-fried smelts, calamari cut up in rings and fried. And I'll tell you after the holidays, you really couldn't stand the sight of any more fried food...for a while," Coddington says.
A Libyan security guard stands next to African immigrants in the port of Tripoli on Dec. 5, 2011, after authorities foiled their attempt to illegally immigrate to Europe. Thousands of sub-Saharan Africans have been stranded or imprisoned in Libya, suspected of being mercenaries for former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Thousands of sub-Saharan Africans are either stranded or imprisoned in Libya in the wake of the revolt against Moammar Gadhafi — and they haven't been having an easy time. Many have been detained and abused, accused of being mercenaries in Gadhafi's army.
On a recent day at the military airport in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, a Libyan fighter lines up 115 Nigerians to be deported.
More than ready to leave, the women and men gather their meager belongings.
This camera was for sale in Australia when Kodak announced that it would close its Melbourne manufacturing plant in 2004 due to a rise in digital photography. A decline in the sale of digital cameras has caused the company to again shift focus, this time towards commercial printing.
Credit Robert Cianflone / Getty Images
Kodak has seen digital camera sales dwindle in recent years. This Henrietta, N.Y., Best Buy keeps only a few of them on shelves, leaving most to online sales. Kodak is looking to largely forgo the consumer camera market and focus instead on commercial printing products.
The photography pioneer Kodak has been dogged by bankruptcy rumors, its stock has tumbled, and its cash reserves have shrunk. But the company says it expects a strong fourth quarter as it fights toward profitability in 2012.
"I grew up in a Kodak family — aunts, uncles, father, brother-in-law," says Linda Nau. Her connection to the company is similar to that of a lot of native Rochesterians. Nau herself even worked at Kodak.
As American troops leave Iraq, the one place in the country that's most likely to erupt into violence, at least in the short term, is the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
The city is a complicated ethnic mix of Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen and others. The question of whether it belongs to the autonomous Kurdish region in the north or to the Arab-dominated central government of Baghdad has long been a point of contention.