Cities may be the defining element of human civilization.
The path from hunter-gatherers in the Paleolithic era 25,000 years ago to the high-tech, high-wonder jumble we inhabit today runs straight through cities. In traveling that path, our construction of cities has always been a dance with physics. In some cases, that physics was explicitly understood; in others, its manifestation was only recognized in hindsight.
As our cities have become more complex the physics embodying their behavior and organization has also become more nuanced, subtle and profound.
Pretty much every smartphone on the market today offers GPS. Apps of all kinds use that geo-locating ability to offer you the local weather forecast or help you find nearby restaurants.
There are also apps designed to help singles look for love, and the concept has been a hit — with men. The app Grindr, for gay men, has more than 4 million users worldwide. And straight guys are signing up for a bunch of dating apps, as well.
Today at All Things Considered, we continue a project we're calling NewsPoet. Each month, we bring in a poet to spend time in the newsroom — and at the end of the day, to compose a poem reflecting on the day's stories.
Wind and solar get lots of attention, but another kind of renewable power actually creates more energy in our country --wood. The state of Massachusetts on Friday decided that these plants aren't green enough to get some special breaks.
If you want to see how much Mitt and Ann Romney consider themselves a team, check out his official portrait at the Massachusetts Statehouse. He's the first governor to request that an image of his wife be included in the painting — he's posed beside a framed picture of her.
By all accounts, the Romneys consult each other on everything. So after a bruising campaign in 2008 that left Mrs. Romney openly disgusted by the process and vowing she would never do it again, it looked like that might be it for Mitt.
A queen of comedy has died. Phyllis Diller had audiences in stitches for more than five decades with her outlandish get-ups and rapid-fire one-liners. She died at her home, where she had been in hospice care after a fall. She was 95.
Diller was glamorously outrageous — or at least the character she created was glamorously outrageous, the one who wore wigs that made her look like she had her finger in an electrical outlet, who wore gaudy sequined outfits. She was known for her laugh and those nasty jokes about her dimwitted husband, "Fang."
Roxana Castro sits in an orange chair in the waiting room at Mary's Center in Washington, D.C. She's 17, and expecting a baby boy next month. The pregnancy was a surprise, she says, mostly for her parents, but also for the baby's father.
Even with her mother's help, Castro admits she's nervous. The father of the baby says he'll be there, but she knows this is a big responsibility, and says she's not ready to start a family just yet.
"A baby is so fragile," she says. "I don't know how to take care of it or anything."
Weekends on All Things Considered continues its "Why Music Matters" series with a story from the operating room.
"The O.R. is a naturally rhythmic place, in that you have the beating of the anesthesia machines and the autoclave comes on," says Divya Singh, an orthopedic and hand surgeon. "So music just becomes another sound."
In just a few weeks, we will mark the seventh anniversary of one of the country's deadliest hurricanes. New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are still recovering from the devastating damage and loss of life caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita — the storm that would follow.
All it takes to enter a time warp in New Hampshire is $15 and a summer afternoon. Spanning more than 250 years of American history, Strawbery Banke is the oldest neighborhood in the state's oldest city, Portsmouth.
It's kind of like Virginia's Colonial Williamsburg — lite. Stationed inside many of the 37 homes are re-enactors in different period garb. Inside a hulking white house, it's 1872.
In the 1920s, the sound of music in the black church underwent a revolution. Standing at 40th and State Street in Chicago, Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ was a witness to what occurred.
The high-energy gospel beat of the music that can still be heard in this Pentecostal church is the creation, music critics say, of Arizona Dranes, a blind piano player, a woman who introduced secular styles like barrelhouse and ragtime to the church's music.
In an alley in Little Village on Chicago's West Side, the faint sound of music from a Spanish-speaking radio station wafts in the air and garbage cans are sprayed with gang graffiti. They look like the tattoos on 17-year-old Elias Roman's arms.
"This [alleyway] right here is where I caught my first gun case," says Elias, who was born and raised in the neighborhood, home to a large Mexican-American community.
The weak economy is helping to drive thousands more college graduates into the U.S. military.
Since the recession began in 2007, there's been a steady increase in the number of college graduates joining the armed forces. The Navy and Army have seen the biggest jumps. About 60 percent more college grads joined the Navy last year than in 2007.
For some of them, it's a job some would never have imagined for themselves just a few years ago.
It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Cheryl Corley. Guy Raz is away.
Over the last two years, Wisconsin seems to have suddenly become an epicenter of national politics and, even more so, conservative politics. Governor Scott Walker survived a hotly contested recall effort following a big battle with the unions.
Hope Solo is generally regarded as the best women's goalkeeper in the world. Fresh off winning her third-straight Olympic gold medal with the U.S. national team, Solo has been as busy off the field as on it, releasing an autobiography titled Solo: A Memoir of Hope.
The memoir details her rise as an international celebrity, but it also focuses on the complicated relationship she had with her father, who taught her to play soccer.
If you ever listened to jazz vocalists and wondered if you could ever in your life scat like them, there's someone who's willing to teach you. The vocalist Rhiannon has long held the importance of improvisation as a personal credo, and in her career has blended that art form with jazz, world music and storytelling.
There are roughly 21 funerals a day at Arlington National Cemetery. The majority are simple graveside burials. But for those soldiers who have earned "full honors," the casket is brought to the grave by a team of horses pulling a caisson.
These horses are the subject of a new series of portraits by 35-year-old Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas now on view at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The horses seem sad, and Dumas says that's what drives her work.
Summertime is beach time in Southern California, even at night. Locals gather around bonfires, roast marshmallows and enjoy each other's company. On some very special nights, there's even sex — at least for the fish.
The grunion run happens only in the spring and summer months. Late at night, under the full and new moons, thousands of tiny, silvery fish swim to shore for a very peculiar mating ritual.
A recent Supreme Court decision striking down mandatory life terms for juveniles has touched off a flurry of activity across the country, especially in Pennsylvania,wherelawyers are advising about 500 prisoners to file requests for new sentencing hearings before the end of next week.
Bradley Bridge with the Defender Association of Philadelphia has received more than 200 letters from prisoners in the past two months asking about the Supreme Court ruling.
In the past two weeks, seven Afghans in uniform have opened fire on Western forces. The most recent incidents occurred Friday. First, a newly recruited policeman in western Afghanistan turned his gun on U.S. military trainers, killing two and wounding a third. A short time later in southern Kandahar province, an Afghan soldier shot and wounded two foreign troops.
Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 4:03 pm
As a math-loving parent of a math-loving tween girl, I'm worried that women are significantly underrepresented in science and engineering fields. A new benefit album of kids music called Science Fair gathers musicians together to take on that disparity both by raising awareness and firing up the imagination.
The "know your farmer" concept may soon apply to the folks growing your coffee, too.
Increasingly, specialty roasters are working directly with coffee growers around the world to produce coffees as varied in taste as wines. And how are roasters teaching their clientele to appreciate the subtle characteristics of brews? By bringing an age-old tasting ritual once limited to coffee insiders to the coffee-sipping masses.
The recent headlines in the Russian press were sensational: Members of a reclusive Islamic sect were said to be living in an isolated compound with underground burrows, some as deep as eight stories underground, without electricity or heat.
Reporters have descended on the compound, on the outskirts of the city of Kazan, but have had only limited access and have not been able to confirm all the allegations by Russian officials.
In Pakistan last night, Taliban militants attacked an air base near the capital. The attack came amid reported preparations for a Pakistani military offensive. The target of that offensive: the militants' hideouts along the border with Afghanistan.
NPR's Lauren Frayer reports from Islamabad.
LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: Nine Taliban men in army uniforms and suicide belts battled Pakistani troops for more than two hours, killing of security official before being gunned down themselves.