Before Steve Silverman helped Google build its new Trekker, he built cameras for NASA to photograph the surface of Mars. Silverman says the Trekker is built to survive in intense conditions. It will boot up at 10 below zero Celsius or at 110 Fahrenheit. It will even work after being fully submerged in water.
Credit Steve Henn / NPR
The Google Trekker team hikes down the Bright Angel trail heading toward the base of the Grand Canyon.
Credit Steve Henn / NPR
Google's Craig Robinson and James Hoffacker prepare to hike into the Grand Canyon. Robinson is wearing the new Google Trekker — a Street View camera mounted to a backpack. The Trekker's two lithium ion batteries can last eight hours and power 15 cameras. The pack — designed and built by Google — weighs 40 pounds.
Google's Street View maps are headed into the backcountry. Earlier this week, two teams from Google strapped on sophisticated backpacks jammed with cameras, gyroscopes and other gadgets, and descended to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. But this is just the first step in the search giant's plan to digitally map and photograph the world's wild places.
Luc Vincent — who runs Google's Street View — met up with a small group of reporters on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon this week.
Afghan soldiers stand at attention during a ceremony transferring authority from NATO-led troops to Afghan security forces in Afghanistan's Kunar province. The transfer of responsibility for security from NATO-led ISAF forces to Afghan troops is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014.
America's exit strategy in Afghanistan is to have Afghan forces take the lead in fighting for their country. But too often these days, the job still falls to U.S. troops.
A senior officer in Afghanistan tells NPR that Americans continue to coddle Afghan forces and that this must stop. Tough love is in, the officer says. He says the Afghan forces are far more capable than the U.S. estimates and have simply grown accustomed to the U.S. doing everything for them.
That pretty much sums up the situation in southern Afghanistan earlier this year.
Nick Staback, who lost both of his legs to a bomb in Afghanistan, talks with his mother, Maria Staback, in Scranton, Pa. Maria Staback took a leave of absence from her job to move in with her son while he was recuperating at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington, D.C.
Credit David Gilkey / NPR
Staback takes aim with a replica sniper rifle on his back porch in Scranton, Pa. After a year at Walter Reed, he's moving into an apartment with a friend near the hospital in Bethesda, Md.
On furlough from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center this summer, 21-year-old Nick Staback lounges on his parents' back porch in Scranton, Pa., taking potshots at sparrows with a replica sniper rifle. The long plastic gun fires pellets that mostly just scare the birds away.
It's been a tough year for Staback since his last foot patrol in Afghanistan.
"We [were] just channeling down a beaten trail, of course, you just don't know what's on it," he says. "We had the mine sweepers out front and everything like that."
A visitor looks at a bank of TV screens at a consumer electronics show in Berlin. While TV and movies are available on many devices, consumers often struggle to find exactly what they want, television critic Eric Deggans says.
Credit Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
Steve Jobs demonstrates the movie function of the iPad in 2010. The introduction of the tablet as a means of watching movies and television shows contributed to changing viewing habits.
While sitting on a couch and gazing at a 50-inch TV remains a popular pastime in America, smaller screens have also edged their way into our lives. Phones, tablets and video game devices crowd pockets and coffee tables, offering access to what used to be called "TV," at any time of the day.
It's largely forgotten now — but there was a time when the mere mention of Brooklyn would produce a cascade of laughs. It was like saying "woman driver" — surefire guffaws. Everybody from Brooklyn was supposed to be a character.
Every platoon in every war movie had one wise guy from Brooklyn in it. Brooklyn natives spoke funny. They said, most famously, "youse guys." At a time when African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanics barely existed — visibly — in movies or on radio or television, Brooklyn was the all-purpose stand-in for our great American ethnic diversity.
Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep with a tale of the singing whale. Scientists this week published a study of a captive beluga whale in San Diego. The whale began to sing, apparently after spending time close to people. It died several years ago, but left behind a recording that sounds like a person in the shower.
(SOUNDBITE OF WHALE SINGING)
INSKEEP: We do not know if during his lifetime the singing whale ever made it to a karaoke bar.
Pakistani security personnel stand guard in front of a burnt-out school following an attack by the Pakistani Taliban in the northwestern district of Upper Dir in June 2011. The Taliban have destroyed many schools in northwestern Pakistan.
Stop someone in the street. Ask them about the case of Malala Yousafzai. They will likely know — after the worldwide publicity given to her story — that Malala is the Pakistani teenager who was shot for demanding the right of girls to go to school.
They will surely know, too, that the people who shot Malala in the head from close range were the Pakistani Taliban. They will probably view Malala as the heroine she clearly is. And the Taliban will be seen as the violent fanatics that they surely are.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer speaks at a Microsoft event in San Francisco in July. This week, Microsoft launches Windows 8, a radical redesign of its operating system, as well as a new set of tablet computers.
Microsoft, the company that defined the PC, is still enormously profitable — but not as profitable as it once was.
This week, Microsoft will try to regroup. It is rolling out the largest upgrade of its Windows software in more than a decade. All of this is meant to help the company break into the exploding market for mobile.
While the company still commands a formidable computing empire, it is now under attack.
Microsoft's CEO is Steve Ballmer, a big, bombastic, balding guy. These days he's riled up about Windows 8.
Meet a man with a powerful addiction — to running. Caleb Daniloff says he believes the sport saved him from addictions that were far worse, and he's written a new book, called Running Ransom Road: Confronting the Past, One Marathon at a Time, about his experiences.
Daniloff has run some familiar marathons — New York and Boston — but he's also been to a place not famous for outdoor running: Moscow.
In what may come as a pleasant surprise to people who fear the Facebook generation has given up on reading — or, at least, reading anything longer than 140 characters — a new report from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project reveals the prominent role of books, libraries and technology in the lives of young readers, ages 16 to 29. Kathryn Zickuhr, the study's main author, joins NPR's David Greene to discuss the results.
Lance Armstrong became a bicycle racing legend when he won every Tour de France from 1999 to 2005. But after what happened today, there will be no official record of all those victories. Cycling's international governing body announced it will not appeal sanctions by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
Video game makers are rolling out their new titles — with a wide range of creativity and style — just in time for the holiday shopping season. Jamin Warren, founder of Kill Screen magazine, shares his list of video games you should keep your eye on:
Broadway veteran Sutton Foster stars in the ABC Family show Bunheads, which, while focusing on adults, is still popular with ABC Family's demographic.
Credit Eric McCandless / ABC Family
The popularity of ABC Family shows like Pretty Little Liars has encouraged mainstream stars like Adam Lambert to get in on the action.
Credit Eric McCandless / ABC Family
After initial worries that family-centered stories might seem uncool to young viewers, ABC Family embraced the idea and now focuses much of its original programming on family dynamics, such as those in Switched at Birth.
In a sterile white boardroom in ABC Family's headquarters in Los Angeles, two young women are assiduously ignoring a spread of cookies in favor of two more important things: their laptops and a live broadcast of the show Pretty Little Liars playing on a large flat-screen TV.
Dalia Ganz, 28, is the show's social-media manager. She's patiently teaching one of the beautiful young actors on the show how to live-tweet this episode.
"Include #prettylittleliars in your answers," she instructs. That is a literal transcription of her words.
Diet soda. We love it or hate it. But there's no doubt that consumption is on the rise. More Americans than ever are drinking diet colas, along with other zero- and low-calorie alternatives.
While diet drink consumption is up across the entire population — about 1 in 5 of us consume them — it's higher-income, middle-aged women who are most likely to be sipping diet drinks, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey.
Phil Coke and Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers celebrate after beating the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series. Through the power of modern technology, fans could experience the game even if they weren't in front of a television screen.
The iPad version of MLB At Bat app enables fans to connect with their favorite baseball teams when they're on the go.
The iPhone version of MLB At Bat collects the most relevant information in one place.
While most American homes still have a television in the den, how we watch, and what we watch, is changing. Computers, tablets, smartphones, DVRs and video game consoles have redefined what television is.
Viewers have officially become a multiscreen culture. And that means the TV industry is changing, as well. Consider that 36 million Americans watch video on their phones, according to the Nielsen ratings company.
In November, Democrats have an uphill battle if they want to try and take control of the U.S. House of Representatives. But one bright spot for the party is the Sixth Congressional District in Maryland. State Democrats redrew the district's boundaries and now it favors their party. And that leaves 10-term Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett in trouble. NPR's Jeff Brady has our story from Hagerstown, Maryland.
A judge in New York City is hearing arguments this week about the controversial policing tactic known as stop-and-frisk. This case concerns a relatively small number of searches done without warrants that took place in the hallways of apartment buildings. It's being watched closely because it's the first of several major stop-and-frisk lawsuits to go to court. NPR's Joel Rose reports.
Doctors who specialize in treating infertility are making a big change in their position on a controversial practice. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has concluded that freezing women's eggs to treat infertility should no longer be considered "experimental."
The group plans to officially announce the change on Monday.
Robert Griffo was living the high life at an investment firm on Wall Street when the stock market crashed 25 years ago on Black Monday. Along with the Dow Jones industrial average, Griffo's life tumbled.
Griffo tells StoryCorps he worked with the investment company for 11 years.
"I was making a lot of money," he says. "I used to walk over homeless people at Grand Central Station when they were begging for money, and I'd say, 'You need to get a job.' But I lost myself on Wall Street."
When the market crashed on Oct. 19, 1987, Griffo thought he would be let go.
As the presidential race enters its final weeks, there are many factors that could affect the outcome: a great — or terrible — debate performance by one of the candidates on Monday in Florida; the next jobs report; or the presence of third-party candidates who are on the ballot in almost every state.
Gary Johnson, the former two-term governor of New Mexico who's running on the Libertarian ticket, is on the ballot in 48 states.
When our series began yesterday, we brought together five economists from across the political spectrum and had them create a platform for their dream presidential candidate. It's a platform — Get rid of a tax deduction for homeowners!
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Back in the late 1700s, the resentful subjects of France's Marie Antoinette gave her the nickname Madame Deficit. The queen's extravagant lifestyle ended at the guillotine. But she left behind some treasures, including a delicate pair of green and pink silk striped slippers. On the anniversary of her execution this week, they were sold by a Parisian auction house at a price fit for a queen - more than $65,000. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.