Hank Aaron breaks Babe Ruth's record for career home runs as he hits No. 715 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on April 8, 1974, on his way to a career 755 home runs. Research suggests that in a wide variety of professions, including collegiate and professional sports, a small but significant number of individuals perform exceedingly well and the rest of individuals' performance trails off.
For decades, teachers, managers and parents have assumed that the performance of students and employees fits what's known as the bell curve — in most activities, we expect a few people to be very good, a few people to be very bad and most people to be average.
The bell curve powerfully shapes how we think of human performance: If lots of students or employees happen to show up as extreme outliers — they're either very good or very bad — we assume they must represent a skewed sample, because only a few people in a truly random sample are supposed to be outliers.
When I went to see The Avengers the very day it was released, I texted a friend in San Francisco. It seems kind of unfair, I said, that because of the 12-hour time difference, I get to see The Avengers before you do.
Turns out I was a week off. The Avengers actually released in 39 countries around the world, including India, a week before it opens in America.
The African-American experience is reflected, right now, on the walls of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. Exuberant dancing in Chicago. Laundry on a line in the nation's capital. A girl smiling out from her father's warm jacket — all captured in photographs, paintings and sculptures from the 1920s through the 1990s.
As you can probably tell, at least one person on this blog's masthead likes ants.
So we've always been bummed that we haven't had the opportunity to tell you about zombie ants, but today we are glad to report there is a new development in the field. Luckily, it's a good-news report about a fungus that limits the fungus that turns ants into zombies.
The news keeps getting worse for Spain. This week came word that the country has fallen back into recession. Meanwhile, Spain's unemployment rate is the highest in Europe. Investors are once again fleeing the country and interest rates on government debt are climbing.
The numbers coming out of Spain these days are stark. The economy contracted at a 0.3 percent rate during the first part of this year. Housing prices are down 21 percent from their peak, and unemployment is nearly 25 percent.
The prosecution at the perjury trial of baseball great Roger Clemens suffered another major setback Wednesday. One of its key witnesses, pitcher Andy Pettitte, conceded that he may have misunderstood his former teammate as saying he used human growth hormone (HGH).
Clemens is charged with lying to Congress when he testified before a House committee that he had never used performance-enhancing drugs.
Gary Thulin, 70, says he used to dream of financial stability. Now, the New Hampshire co-op resident and mobile home owner says he and his wife could sell their home, pay off the loan they took out on it, and still walk away with $10,000.
Credit Dan Gorenstein for NPR
Co-op resident Gary Thulin had almost no credit when a nonprofit lender approved him for a loan to replace the single-wide home he had nicknamed "The Dump" with this new model.
Credit Dan Gorenstein for NPR
ROC USA is working with the residents of Cranberry Village, including Judy Stoddard, in Carver, Mass., to help them purchase the land they live on from its current owner.
California Faculty Association Vice President Douglas Domingo-Foraste (right) helps Cal State, Long Beach, professor Mark Sugars vote last month on whether to authorize a strike. The strike was authorized Wednesday.
Credit Damian Dovarganes / AP
Students walk between classes at California State University, Fullerton. Because of cuts, some students have trouble getting into classes they need to graduate.
California State University, the nation's largest four-year, public university system, is in trouble. Wednesday, professors authorized a strike over working conditions and pay, and students began a hunger strike demanding a tuition freeze.
The faculty authorization allows for two-day strikes at each of the schools in system, one after the other. A strike date is pending, though, and will only take place if negotiations fail.
This unfolding crisis is the result of massive state cuts in funding that have pushed higher education in California to the breaking point.
Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are teaming up in a $60 million venture to provide classes online for free. The move is the latest by top universities to expand their intellectual reach through the Internet — a trend that is changing higher education.
The political civil war that has gripped Wisconsin since Republican Gov. Scott Walker's 2010 election will intensify next week when Democrats pick a candidate to post up against the governor in a historic recall election in June.
Tuesday's Democratic gubernatorial primary has developed into a two-person race between Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who lost to Walker in the GOP landslide of 2010, and former County Executive Kathleen Falk, the favorite of the state's public employee unions.
Two self-employed florists prepare bunches of flowers in Havana last year. The Cuban government is stepping up economic reforms and estimates that in four or five years, nearly half the workforce will be employed in the private sector.
Credit STR / AFP/Getty Images
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (right) speaks with his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, during a military parade earlier this year in Caracas, Venezuela. Chavez has provided an economic lifeline to Cuba. Now, that lifeline is under threat as the Venezuelan leader fights cancer and faces re-election.
Socialism has been Cuba's official economic policy for more than a half-century, and some 85 percent of the Cuban workforce is employed by the state.
But that is changing fast. Communist authorities say that nearly half of Cuba's economic activity will shift to the private or "non-state" sector in the next four or five years.
Those plans signal a new urgency to Cuban President Raul Castro's economic reforms, and one reason is that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the island's biggest benefactor, is battling cancer and facing re-election in October.
Communist Party of Greece lawmaker Liana Kanelli enters her car after protesters threw yogurt at her as she tried to reach the Greek Parliament on June 29, during a 48-hour general strike in Athens. Such attacks are not uncommon in Greece, where ordinary Greeks' anger over the debt crisis and austerity measures is boiliing over.
Credit AFP/Getty Images
A protester shouts slogans during a May Day protest in Athens on Tuesday. In debt-crippled Greece, more than 2,000 people marched through central Athens in subdued protests centered on the country's harsh austerity program, ahead of elections scheduled for May 6.
Greeks will vote Sunday in what is expected to be the most fractious parliamentary election in decades.
People are so divided that no party is expected to get enough votes to form a government. Voters blame politicians for bankrupting the country and then selling it out to international lenders, who forced the government to impose painful austerity measures in exchange for billions of euros in bailout loans.
This election is an early one; the economic crisis forced out the previous elected government led by George Papandreou.
Zahra was an anti-government activist and graffiti artist in Syria. He and his friends spray-painted slogans against President Bashar Assad around the suburbs of Damascus, the Syrian capital.
Credit Courtesy of friends of Nour Hatem Zahra
Mourners carry the body of activist Nour Hatem Zahra, 23, during his funeral procession, in Damascus, Syria, on Monday. Friends and fellow activists say Zahra, who posted anti-government graffiti all around the Syrian capital, bled to death after being shot by Syrian security forces on Sunday.
What secret ingredient makes the pie crust so crisp and flaky? If you're from the Midwest, you may have guessed: Lard. The pig fat reviled for decades as supremely unhealthy is undergoing a lipid rehabilitation by American chefs and home bakers.
President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed a long-term partnership agreement on Tuesday in Kabul. The deal calls for the U.S. to remain engaged in Afghanistan for another decade, even as U.S. combat troops are withdrawn. Still, there are few details in the agreement. Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman is in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and talks to Audie Cornish about the practical implications of the new deal.
Maybe you needed a good cry, but you were at work and didn't have easy access to your DVD of "The Notebook." So, you searched for that heart wrenching break-up scene on YouTube and let the tears flow freely.
Could be, nostalgic for times past when "real" men wore suits and drank bourbon, you were itching to watch Humphrey Bogart tell Ingrid Bergman, "Here's lookin' at you kid."
What to say about Newt Gingrich that Newt Gingrich hasn't already said about Newt Gingrich?
Employing his admittedly "grandiose" ideas, Gingrich said all that he could to will his candidacy for president past low expectations. He arguably did, managing to resurrect his political career (at least temporarily), help focus the zeitgeist of conservative voters and even briefly wear the mantle of front-runner.
Millions of people around the world are living with HIV, thanks to drug regimens that suppress the virus. Now there's a new push to eliminate HIV from patients' bodies altogether. That would be a true cure.
We're not there yet. But a report in Science Translational Medicine is an encouraging signpost that scientists may be headed in the right direction.
Getting into a fight at one of the four bars within the borders of the British Parliament's grounds not only brought House of Commons member Eric Joyce (a Labour MP) unwanted notoriety, it has also led to orders that bartenders and event staff start cutting off obviously intoxicated lawmakers.
Which, of course, would seem like something they already should have known they should do.
The United States has a higher rate of babies born early — and therefore at greater risk of death or health problems – than more than 125 other countries, including Rwanda, Uzbekistan, China and Latvia, according to a report out today.
About 12 percent of U.S. babies are born at 37 weeks or less, according to the report, which found a worldwide range of as few as 4.1 percent of babies in Belarus to as many as 18 percent in Malawi. Full term is considered 39 weeks.
Oct. 31, 2010: Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (then of the New Orleans Saints) talks to linebacker Jonathan Vilma. Williams has been suspended from the league indefinitely. Vilma will miss the 2012 season.
Four NFL players tied to the so-called bountygate have now been hit with suspensions by the league. They were part of a scheme in which a New Orleans Saints coach created a bounty system for hits that knocked opponents out of games.