When astronomers survey the universe, the landmarks are galaxies, those gigantic agglomerates of stars and interstellar gas spread across the immensity of space. A typical spiral galaxy, like our own Milky Way, boasts hundreds of billions of stars grouped along hundreds of thousands of light-years. That means that it takes a beam of light all that time to go from one extreme of the galaxy to the other, traveling, as light does in a vacuum, at 186,282 miles per second.
Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 9:02 am
In the backyard of an unassuming suburban home in Bethlehem, Pa., is a global cornucopia of botanical heritage. Almost 300 varieties of fig grow here, most of them with roots in Europe, Asia or Africa, and each one collected and propagated by Bassem Samaan, a 34-year-old Lebanese native with an unusually green thumb and an obsession with figs.
Samaan is one of a handful of eccentric gardeners around the world whose goal is to save and preserve rare or unusual fruit varieties — trees that may never have commercial value and which may barely cling to existence.
Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 3:08 pm
There's word this morning of another wildfire, this time outside the community of Manton in Northern California, where "dozens of buildings, many of them likely homes, have been destroyed," as The Associated Press reports.
Wildfires out West have been a constant topic this summer, it seems, on The Two-Way and other news outlets.
Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 10:55 am
GOP officials and the Mitt Romney campaign have cut a deal with Texas Rep. Ron Paul's campaign to allow some — though not all — of Paul's delegates from Louisiana and Massachusetts to be seated at the Republican National Convention. The status of Maine's delegates remains unsettled.
The compromise would appear to avert a potential public clash with Paul supporters during the convention's opening day Monday.
Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 8:17 am
We absolutely, positively will not make a reference to the crown jewels.
Oops, we just did.
It seems that last Friday night in Las Vegas, Prince Harry — third in line to the throne over in England and one of the world's most eligible bachelors — did some "cavorting with two naked women in a Las Vegas hotel room," as the London Evening Standard puts it.
The evening apparently involved some "strip billiards."
The mystery surrounding the death of a rare white buffalo and the claim by some Lakota Sioux in Texas that it had been killed by other Native Americans deepened Tuesday. A local sheriff announced that investigators believe the animal died of a bacterial disease and said the case is now closed.
Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 9:42 am
When I moved to Philadelphia seven years ago, I was looking to take a ceramics class. Instead I found a wonderful community-minded program in which I've made lifelong friends, unleashed children's creativity and touched their hearts. They in turn have touched mine.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi died in a Belgian hospital this week at the age of 57 after a long illness. He came to power in 1991 after leading a rebel army from Ethiopia's north and toppling the Marxist leader. He was viewed as a firm U.S. ally in the war on terrorism, but also was accused of human rights abuses in Ethiopia.
Haiti plans to clear away a symbol of the country's devastation. The earthquake in 2010 ruined the National Palace, one of the most spectacular buildings in Port-au-Prince.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
We've been looking at some recent photographs. They show the white building still standing, if barely. The earthquake did not knock down its elegant rows of columns. But the white dome on top was left sloping at a dangerous angle, the supporting walls half-crushed beneath its weight.
In Kentucky yesterday, there was another sign of Tea Party clout. Mitch McConnell - minority leader in the U.S. Senate, and Kentucky's most powerful politician - turned up at his first-ever Tea Party rally. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: This was not McConnell's first Tea Party rally. He participated in a Tea Party event in 2010.] This year, Tea Party candidates have scored upsets in Republican primaries in Missouri, Texas and Indiana. That's where longtime Senator Richard Lugar lost.
Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 5:03 am
Video games are getting better in terms of quality, so why are sales falling month after month? David Greene talks to Chris Kohler, who writes about video games for Wired Magazine. The two examine the trends and new technologies reshaping this big, and growing industry.
What your next smart phone or tablet computer might look like is in the hands of a California jury. In one of the biggest patent infringement cases ever, Apple is suing Samsung — charging that in creating its products, Samsung ripped off iPhone and iPad technology. Samsung countered with its own allegations.
This case is complex, the legal issues are daunting, and the jury's decision has to be unanimous.
"What's at stake here is the future of smartphones and the tablet market," says intellectual property expert Christopher V. Carani.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm David Greene.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep.
A deadline came and went yesterday and Todd Akin remains on the ballot for United States Senate in Missouri. On a radio program, the Republican said his party was overreacting in the effort to drive him out of the race.
Battleground states are not always neighbors. And for President Obama, yesterday was one of those days when a candidate stops in one and flies across most of the entire country to another. Mr. Obama was in Ohio and then Nevada, visiting college campuses. This morning he'll keep with the education theme at a high school near Las Vegas. The president has been highlighting steps he's taken to make higher education more affordable.
Here's NPR's Scott Horsley.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: How many students do we have here?
In Lebanon, a wave of kidnappings and an alleged plot to destabilize the country with bombings — both related to the uprising in Syria — are shaking Lebanon's precarious sectarian balance.
That's been apparent on al-Mokdad Street in south Beirut, which has been tense in recent days. The Mokdads are a large Shiite clan who control the street that is named for them. Young men with pistols in their pockets cruise the street on motor scooters, acting as the clan's lookouts.
On the fishing-boat piers of New England, nearly everyone knows a fisherman who was lost at sea.
Boat captain Joe Neves remembers when a crew member got knocked overboard. "We heard him screaming 'Help me!' " Neves says, grimacing. "But you know, on the water at night, your head is like a little coconut." They didn't find him.
Mike Gallagher discovered a friend who was entangled in still-running hydraulics. "I knew right away he was dead," he says.
As the presidential election nears, Morning Edition is visiting swing counties in swing states for our series First and Main. We're listening to voters where they live — to understand what's shaping their thinking this election year. This week, we're spending time in Winnebago County, Wis., where we spoke with two women — one Democrat, one Republican — who embody their state's Midwestern charm and spirit of self-reliance. First, we hear from the Democrat.
Independent voters have grown in recent years into a mega voting bloc. By some estimates they outnumber registered Republicans, and even registered Democrats.
Every election cycle, independents generate enormous amounts of interest as candidates, pollsters and the media probe their feelings. These voters are widely considered to hold the key to most elections.
For the first time in a long time there is actually more than a modicum of interest in the women's side of a Grand Slam tournament. And, of course, it's all strictly due to a party of one: Serena Williams.
On a muggy summer afternoon in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, a dozen people are hard at work on the patio behind a local church. They're stripping old bicycles of their brakes, cables and chains, and sanding and spray-painting them white.
But behind the lighthearted chatter, there's a more somber purpose to this gathering: They're building "ghost bikes."
Painted all white and adorned with colorful notes and flowers, ghost bikes are the cycling community's equivalent of roadside shrines dotting the highway; they mark the spot where a rider was killed in traffic.
While many cities around the country grapple with drought and excessive heat this year, city planners in Boston have something else on their minds: the prospect of rising water.
In this coastal metropolis, scientists and computer models predict that climate change could eventually lead to dramatic increases in sea level around the city. Coupled with a storm surge at high tide, parts of the city could easily end up under water.