Last Monday, an amateur astronomer in Wisconsin, Dan Peterson, was gazing through his telescope when he caught sight of a flash of white light in Jupiter's gassy atmosphere. Lucky for him, someone else also had a scope trained on Jupiter that night. George Hall, an amateur astronomer in Dallas caught that flash on video, hard evidence that an explosion had indeed happened on the giant planet.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY, I'm Ira Flatow. How much of the world's energy needs could be met by wind power alone? Energy analysts are always quick to point out that the wind doesn't blow all the time, but it turns out that if you look worldwide, and you look up at the sky and not just at ground level, there's a lot of wind available, and that wind carries a lot of energy.
During the Republican debates, Mitt Romney told a moderator "You get to ask the questions you want. I get to give the answers I want." Social psychologist Todd Rogers talks about how likely voters are to notice a subtle dodge. James Fowler joins to discuss whether social media can send more people to the polls.
What happens at the Northeast Mycological Federation Foray? "Mushrooms only," according to attendee Gary Lincoff, an instructor at the New York Botanical Garden and author of The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. Science Friday stopped by the conference for mushroom talk, mushroom crafts, mushroom eats and a mushroom hunt.
This interview was originally broadcast on April 12, 2012. Fernando Trueba's Chico & Rita is now out on DVD.
The animated film Chico and Rita is set in 1940s Havana, at a time when Cuban musicians were starting to leave the country and join the jazz scene in New York. It was also a time when musical styles were fusing β and changing the Afro-Cuban jazz scene entirely.
This interview was originally broadcast on Oct. 24, 2011. The third season of Boardwalk Empire starts Sunday.
HBO's Boardwalk Empire, set in Atlantic City in the 1920s, is about organized crime in the era of Prohibition. The show stars Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson, an Atlantic City politician who sees the coming of Prohibition as an opportunity to make even more money from illegal activities and kickbacks.
Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master is both feverish and glacial. The vibe is chilly, but the central character is an unholy mess β and his rage saturates every frame. He's a World War II South Pacific vet named Freddie Quell, played by Joaquin Phoenix to the hilt β the hilt above the hilt. We meet him at war's end on a tropical beach where he and other soldiers seek sexual relief atop the figure of a woman made out of sand.
In an election that's supposed to be about the economy, tragic deaths overseas push foreign policy onto the political stage in the race between Mitt Romney and President Obama. While Romney seems to have lost the initial battle, questions remain about the administration's Middle East goals.
Join NPR's Ron Elving and Ken Rudin for the latest "It's All Politics" roundup.
After the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya earlier this week, Google took down the YouTube video said to have sparked the violence β but only in Libya and in Egypt, where anti-American protests also flared up.
It's an example of the challenges of balancing U.S. free speech concerns and of something known as the "heckler's veto."
The Innocence of Muslims isn't the only YouTube video that can be seen in the U.S. but not elsewhere. Nazi propaganda is banned in Germany, for example, and slurs against Turkey's founder don't appear in that country.
Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 2:45 pm
Twice in all of history, humans have managed to eradicate a devastating disease. You've heard of the first one, I suspect: smallpox. But rinderpest?
That's a German word for "cattle plague" a feared companion of cattle throughout history. When outbreaks occurred, as in Europe of the 1700s or Africa in the 1880s, entire herds were wiped out and communities went hungry. Now the disease is gone, eliminated from the face of the earth.
Originally published on Fri September 14, 2012 10:36 am
The Obama administration has stepped back from remarks by the president earlier this week in which he suggested that Egypt was something less than a firm ally.
Following unrest in Egypt and the killing of four Americans in Libya that was sparked at least in part by a film seemingly aimed at stoking Muslim anger, Obama, referring to Egypt, told the Spanish-language Telemundo: "I don't think that we would consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy."
Originally published on Fri September 14, 2012 6:33 pm
Anti-American protests β some peaceful, some not β have been seen in many parts of the Islamic world today, as Friday prayers became an opportunity for many to express anger over a film produced in the U.S. that denigrates the Prophet Muhammad.
The Atlantic Wire has a good map that shows where the protests are happening.
The U.S. population is growing. In normal times, the labor force β working or not β would be growing too. But these are not normal times, and the labor force is actually smaller than it was four years ago, meaning millions of people who should be there aren't.
The reasons people drop out of the workforce are myriad. People go back to school. Others have health issues or family priorities that keep them from looking for work. But some stop looking because they are discouraged.
As U.S. embassies and consulates face protests in the Muslim world over an anti-Islamic film, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is walking a fine line. She is distancing herself and the State Department from the video that has sparked anger among Muslims, but stressed the US commitment to free speech.
"To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible," she said Thursday in Washington, D.C. "It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose: to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage."
One of the biggest questions still outstanding about the attack on a United States consulate in Libya is whether it was planned or whether it was the result of a protest against a U.S.-made film that criticizes the Prophet Muhammad.
The attack killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
The bottom line is that nothing is firm. But NPR's Leila Fadel reports that Libya's Deputy Interior Minister, Wanis al Sharef, said this was a sophisticated two-prong attack.
The First Amendment guarantee of free speech is in the spotlight this week. If you haven't kept up, a U.S.-produced filmdepicting the Prophet Muhammad in a less than flattering way has inflamed the Arab world.
In a lot of ways, the story is showing how the sweeping nature of the First Amendment puts the United States at odds with most of the world.
That rift was perhaps most evident when you compare the statements of Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and that of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
A panel in Florida tasked with examining the state's "Stand Your Ground" law is unlikely to suggest that any major changes are needed.
Since it was convened in May, members of the task force have held meetings at locations around the state. At almost every meeting, they've heard impassioned testimony from people like David Boden, whose son, Jason, was killed in a shooting. Prosecutors in West Palm Beach told Boden that Florida's Stand Your Ground law prevented them from filing charges against the shooter.