A widespread critique of science is that it tells us that the more we know, the more insignificant we are. It's the famous after-Copernicus blues: everything went downhill ever since Earth was moved from the center of the cosmos. Since then, the Sun was pushed out from the center too, our Milky Way galaxy is but one among hundreds of billions of others in an expanding Universe. Even the atoms we are made of are less that 5 percent of the total stuff out there.
Jesse Dee grew up in Boston — far from the South, where the music he loves has its roots — and could never quite shake the '50s and '60s R&B he'd heard on the radio as a kid. He started writing his own material in high school because he wanted his music to be contemporary.
Dee's first album, Bittersweet Batch, came out in 2008; his latest is On My Mind/In My Heart. His love of singing shines through, in both our conversation and this live session.
Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 2:52 pm
Margaret Thatcher, the prime minister whose time leading Great Britain in the 1980s brought joy to conservatives and despair to liberals, was remembered Wednesday for "a life lived in the heat of political controversy."
With her death last week at the age of 87, "there is great calm" for the Iron Lady, added the bishop of London, the Right Reverend Richard Chartres, during a funeral service at London's St. Paul's Cathedral.
Chris Holmes worked at a London airport, but his true love was always making cakes. So Holmes decided to quit his job to run his own bake shop, which brings us to his resignation letter. He wrote it on a cake with icing. He said he wanted more time with his family. He wished his colleagues well. It took two hours, more time than he had ever spent on a birthday message or anniversary wish. A photo of his work went viral, publicity that he really felt was icing on the cake.
Musician Jake Orrall performs onstage at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival on April 14. Temporary hearing loss following concerts and other loud events may protect our ears from more permanent damage.
Credit Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for Coachella
Christopher Knight, whose 27 years of living in near-total isolation in Maine's wilderness made him an object of fascination after he was arrested for stealing food and supplies, appeared by video for a court hearing Tuesday, when a Kennebec County judge set his bail at $25,000 cash.
Though he began his career as a drummer for The Band, Levon Helm kept working long after the group's dissolution. The documentary <em>Ain't in It for My Health </em>captures his final years as a working musician.
Credit Kino Lorber
The documentary gives a raw portrait of Helm's final years, but the true charm of the film are the moments filled with music.
Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 9:57 am
Rock 'n' roll is filled with "one lives it, the other writes about it" pairings, from Mick Jagger drawing on the observed excesses of Keith Richards on down the line. But such arrangements only work when both parties feel like they benefit.
When The Band came into its own as a self-contained group in the late 1960s — after stints backing Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan — its songs drew inspiration from a mythic vision of the American South that was itself inspired by The Band's only Southern member, drummer Levon Helm of Turkey Scratch, Ark.
Originally published on Tue April 16, 2013 7:30 pm
On Monday, CNN's Wolf Blitzer and some others made a point of highlighting President Obama's failure to use the words "terror" or "terrorism" in his first remarks following the Boston Marathon bombings.
Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 7:45 am
Quoting "congressional and law enforcement sources," CNN is reporting that an envelope sent to a senator's office has tested positive for the poison ricin.
"After the envelope tested positive in a first routine test, it was retested two more times, each time coming up positive, the law enforcement source said," CNN reports. "The package was then sent to a Maryland lab for further testing."
Renande Raphael, aged 16 months, is measured to check whether she is growing normally. She's part of a trial in Haiti to see if an extra daily snack of enriched peanut butter prevents stunting and malnutrition.
Originally published on Tue April 16, 2013 7:22 pm
Babies and toddlers in the poorest parts of the world are getting better fed.
What's the proof? Stunting in kids – a sign of poor nutrition early in life — has dropped by a third in the past two decades, UNICEF reported Monday. But there's a long way to go. Globally, a quarter of kids under the age of 5 were stunted in 2011. That's roughly 165 million children worldwide, with nearly 75 percent of them living in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the report says.
Cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) <a href="http://spaceinimages.esa.int/Images/2013/03/Planck_CMB">as observed by Planck</a>. The CMB is a snapshot of the oldest light in our Universe, imprinted on the sky when the Universe was just 380,000 years old.
Credit Planck Collaboration / ESA
You know science needs to work a little harder when different teams get different values for the Hubble Constant. As <a href="http://www.pas.rochester.edu/~dmw/ast142/Lectures/Journal_club_04-11-2013_dmw.pdf">this slide from astronomer Dan Watson</a> shows, things just aren't lining up like they should.
Scientists can't just agree to disagree. It's not because we are stubborn or ornery (OK, maybe we are). It's because the whole point of science is to establish "public knowledge" — an understanding of the cosmos on which we can all agree. That is why there is trouble brewing at the beginning of the Universe.
There is a number, the Hubble Constant, that's fundamental to the study of the cosmos. The problem is, different folks are finding different values for that number and no one yet knows what that means.
Originally published on Tue April 16, 2013 5:00 pm
Monday was awful. We can only imagine the horror experienced by victims and witnesses in Boston.
Or, actually, maybe that's not entirely true. To a degree, we can imagine it. Because, although we didn't feel the shake of the earth or boom of the explosions, we did see it happening — almost in real time. We saw it whether we wanted to, or not.
It raises lots of questions — none of them really new — both for media organizations and for every human on the Internet.
A computer glitch in the reservations system at American Airlines caused all of the carrier's flights to be grounded for at least two hours on Tuesday.
"American's reservation and booking tool, Sabre is offline," American Airlines spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan told Reuters in an email. "We're working to resolve the issue as quickly as we can. We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience."
NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports that the outage was announced about 2:30 p.m. Eastern time.
This week — when many of us at NPR rushed to file our U.S. federal income-tax returns, then moved to a new headquarters — I'm reminded of a moment in jazz history. Namely, the mid-1940s, when a new style called bebop came into popularity.