NPR Blogs

Shots - Health News
12:40 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

Drugmaker Names Pill After CEO Who Sought Daughter's Cure

Martine Rothblatt, CEO of United Therapeutics, is the namesake of the company's latest drug, Orenitram.
Ron Levine Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 4:25 pm

It's not every day that the Food and Drug Administration approves a drug three months ahead of schedule. Or approves a pill that could take the place of injections. Or gives the OK to a medicine named for the CEO who started a company to help her sick daughter.

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The Salt
11:43 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Hair Dryer Cooking: From S'mores To Crispy Duck

Ready for a blowout: Blasting the duck with the dryer before roasting dehydrates the flesh so the skin gets firm and crispy.
Michaeleen Doucleff NPR

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 9:54 am

This past year, we've introduced you to some wacky cooking methods. We've made an entire lunch in a coffee maker and even poached salmon and pears in the dishwasher.

But a few weeks ago, we stumbled upon a crazy culinary appliance that may be the most legitimate of them all: the hair dryer.

Now, before you think we've fallen off the kitchen stool from too much eggnog, check out the science and history behind the idea.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
11:15 am
Tue December 24, 2013

The Christmas Now: How To Be The Center Of The Universe

Step back in time: This is what 100 million years ago looked like, in a galaxy far, far away.
ESO

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 8:25 pm

Ebenezer Scrooge was famously visited by three ghosts in A Christmas Carol. The past, present and future all converged on poor Scrooge in an effort to save him from his own narrow vision of the world and wake him to the wonders of the life right before his eyes. As we navigate the frantic pace of this holiday season we, like Scrooge, might stop to let the past, present and future converge on us for the same reason. Luckily we don't need any scary spectral visitations on Christmas Eve. All we have to do is step outside and let the night sky transport us back in time.

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The Two-Way
11:07 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Money Seen As A Motive In Execution Of North Korea's No. 2

Before their split: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, and his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, in February 2012. Earlier this month, Jang was executed.
Kyodo/Landov

Initial suspicions focused on personal dislike and a desire to send a "don't mess with me" message.

Now there's a report from The New York Times that:

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The Two-Way
9:48 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Yes, Virginia, NORAD's 'Santa Tracker' Is On

The view Friday morning on NORAD's "Santa Tracker."
North American Aerospace Defense Command

Some critics — perhaps others would say Grinches? — don't like the North American Aerospace Defense Command's annual online "Santa Tracker."

At WBUR, author Ethan Gilsdorf writes that "real-time digital imagery of Santa and his route, or calculations of the loot he's delivered, take the imagination out of Christmas."

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The Two-Way
8:57 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Mass Graves Discovered In South Sudan; Is Civil War Coming?

Troops sent to South Sudan by the U.N. watch as men walk to a camp for refugees near Juba, the nation's capital.
James Akena Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 3:20 pm

The already alarming news from South Sudan grew even more worrisome Tuesday with word from the United Nations of mass graves.

In a statement, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said "we have discovered a mass grave in Bentiu, in Unity State, and there are reportedly at least two other mass graves in Juba," the new nation's capital.

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The Salt
8:32 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Top German Chocolate Maker Fights For Its 'Natural' Reputation

If you're selling food in Germany, "natural" is good. It's a place that distrusts technological manipulation of what we eat.

Witness, for example, a 500-year-old law that allows beer-makers to use only three ingredients: water, barley and hops. The law has since been loosened slightly, but many brewers continue to abide by it for marketing reasons.

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The Two-Way
8:10 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Book News: Efforts To Ban Books On The Rise

Joe Songer AL.COM/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 10:03 am

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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The Two-Way
7:38 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Snowden Says His Mission Is Accomplished; 'I Already Won'

Edward Snowden in an image from an October TV report.
AFP/Getty Images

In his first in-person interviews since his explosive revelations last June, "NSA leaker" Edward Snowden tells The Washington Post that in his mind, "the mission's already accomplished."

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The Two-Way
6:31 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Repairs Done, Astronauts Wrap Up Spacewalk

Astronaut Mike Hopkins during Saturday's spacewalk. He's going out again Tuesday.
NASA.gov

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 4:12 pm

Spacewalking astronauts have successfully replaced a failed coolant pump on the International Space Station.

NPR's Joe Palca reports that American spacewalkers Michael Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio had to bolt the massive pump in place (on the ground, it weighs 780 pounds), connect four ammonia lines and plug in five electrical cables. The ammonia is a refrigerant used in the station's two-part cooling system, which is necessary to dissipate heat from the onboard electrical equipment.

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The Two-Way
8:52 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

Alan Turing, Who Cracked Nazi Code, Gets Posthumous Pardon

Detail of a Turing Bombe machine in Bletchley Park Museum in Bletchley, central England. The device, the brainchild of Alan Turning, was instrumental in cracking the German code during World War II.
Alessia Pierdomenico Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 4:18 pm

British mathematician Alan Turing, who helped crack Nazi Germany's 'Enigma' code and laid the groundwork for modern computing, was pardoned on Tuesday, six decades after his conviction for homosexuality is said to have driven him to suicide.

Following his singular contributions toward winning the war against Adolph Hitler, Turing's 1952 conviction is believed to have led two and a half years later to him taking his life by ingesting cyanide.

The Associated Press reports:

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The Two-Way
7:33 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

150 Marines To Be Sent For Possible Mission In South Sudan

The Pentagon has announced it is sending 150 U.S. Marines to Africa, for a possible mission to evacuate Americans in South Sudan, where political and ethnic violence has claimed hundreds of lives and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

NPR's Tom Bowman says the Marines are being sent from Spain to beef up the U.S. military presence at a base in Eastern Africa. Officials say they'll await orders and could head into South Sudan.

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The Two-Way
7:13 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

Al-Qaida Group Admits 'Mistake And Guilt' For Botched Raid

A photo provided by Yemen's Defense Ministry shows damaged vehicles after an al-Qaida affiliate attacked the ministry's complex in Sanaa on Dec. 5.
AP

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 7:14 pm

An al-Qaida affiliate has taken the rare step of apologizing to the families of victims killed in a botched attack in Yemen earlier this month.

The attack on the Defense Ministry in the capital, Sanaa, was meant to hit an area of the complex where al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) says U.S. drones are being controlled. But a hospital on the grounds was also hit in the Dec. 5 attack, and many of the 56 victims were doctors, nurses and patients.

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The Two-Way
5:06 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

On Anniversary Of Apollo 8, How The 'Earthrise' Photo Was Made

The iconic "Earthrise" photo taken by astronaut Bill Anders through a window on the Apollo 8 command module on Dec. 24, 1968.
Bill Anders NASA

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 7:24 am

The first humans to catch a glimpse of the Earth rising over the moon nearly missed seeing it at all, let alone capturing the snapshot that became one of the most iconic photos of the 20th century.

NASA has released an animation commemorating the 45th anniversary of Apollo 8, the first manned mission to orbit the moon. The famous "Earthrise" photo was taken on Christmas Eve 1968.

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