In this country, all children are supposed to have a shot at success — a chance to jump "from rags to riches" in one generation.

Even if riches remain out of reach, then the belief has been that every hard-working American should be able to go from poverty to the middle class.

On Tuesday, a book and a separate study are being released — both turning up evidence that the one-generation leap is getting harder to accomplish in an economy so tied to education, technological know-how and networking.

courtesy Investing In Communities Initiative

There’s lots of discussion these days among public policy leaders and government officials about poverty – what causes it, and what can be done about it.

A new study aims to answer a different question – what are our perceptions of poverty, and what do those tell us about how to deal with the issue? Melissa Bernardin is director of the new Investing in Communities Initiative, which commissioned the research. She joined All Things Considered with more on the research.

While production of certain types of produce is seasonal, demand doesn’t stop when the growing season ends.

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire may have taken a step toward a solution to that dilemma.

In a study, they successfully grew bulbing onions planted in fall for a spring harvest with the aid of low tunnels.

Becky Sideman is a researcher with the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station.

She joins Morning Edition to talk about her findings.

Driek via flickr Creative Commons

A postdoctoral appointment, commonly known as a “postdoc”, was once considered an apprenticeship position to help scientists hone their skills before one day running labs of their own. On today’s show, has the postdoc appointment become a temporary purgatory? And colonial history, one panel at a time.  As kids we’re taught the basics about the Mayflower, the Salem witch trials, and the first Thanksgiving. A new collection aims to broaden our perspective on the period, through an unusual medium.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

The University of Colorado's Humor Lab even has a catchy nickname: HuRL. The director of the lab, Peter McGraw, spoke with us about his work studying the reasons we laugh and why we think certain things are funny, while others are decidedely not. Staffed by the Humor Research Team which is also known as HuRT--we're noticing a trend here--the lab's theoretical foundation is the "Benign Violation Theory."

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Research at big universities is expensive, and the price tag is rising. At the same time securing money for research is getting harder as more and more academics are competing for research grants that are less and less generous. This raises a question: are universities that do research more likely to raise tuition.

The University of New Hampshire has been asked to help a White House task force end sexual assault on college campuses.

A UNH program called Prevention Innovations was identified in a report to help protect students. The program is designing a training program in cooperation with campus-based practitioners around the country.

Jenica26 via flickr Creative Commons

“Why did they do it?”  That’s one of the first questions on the lips of every reporter and pundit after a tragedy like the Boston Marathon bombing, and often there is no satisfying answer.  In cases of domestic terrorism, the motives of the perpetrator leave us with other, equally difficult questions:  what separates angry young men, most of whom will never commit acts of mass violence, from those who do?

jessie owen via flickr Creative Commons

Two weeks ago, Congress passed a continuing budget resolution that included an amendment to cease all funding of political science research. Currently, Poly-Sci gets about ten million dollars a year in support from the national science foundation. In a recent series of posts on Pacific Standard, Seth Masket, political scientist at the University of Denver, says his field has become a new political punching bag. We’ve asked Seth on to tell us why…and why he thinks such research matters.

High Heels Are Sexy and Other "No Duh" Research

Jan 7, 2013
pixieclipx via Flickr Creative Commons

The high heel—ever the fashion accessory—has always attracted attention. Turns out (insert astonishment here) that they make the wearer more attractive and more feminine. 

In honor of this not quite surprising research, here are our top scientific no-brainers inspired by the Ig Nobel prizes for thoughtful, humorous and sometimes absurd research.

Dating sites like E-Harmony and use complex math to bring people together. Now, a project funded by the Michael J. Fox foundation is leveraging similar matchmaking algorithms to link people with Parkinson’s disease to appropriate clinical trials. 

Journalist Neal Ungerleider wrote about the Fox Trial Finder tool for Fast Company. 

Flikr Creative Commons / Mortmer

The National Science Foundation has given The University of New Hampshire $750,000 to coordinate the study of the impacts of Climate Change on roads and bridges.

The grant money will establish a network of Northeast climate scientists and civil engineers led by UNH researchers.

(Photo by Mike Fischer via Flickr Creative Commons)

The science behind our most-sought after emotional state has positively exploded in recent years – with psychologists and social scientists probing just about everything – income, gender, relationships, kids, chocolate – in an effort to find out what makes us more or less happy.   June Gruber is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Yale University, and Director of the Yale Positive Emotion and Psychopathology lab. 

rego-d4u / Flickr Creative Commons

Icons of creativity like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are romanticized as lone wolves, toiling alone deep into the night on ideas that one day change the world. Truth is, most get help along the way. Even Thomas Edison had a crew: 40 or so scientists helped him invent the light bulb. So is it the 'I' or the team that matters most?

Scientists at the University of Illinois report that they have mapped the physical architecture of the brain with accuracy never before achieved. Their study, published in Brain: A Journal of Neurology is the largest, most comprehensive analysis so far of the brain structures vital to general intelligence –which depends on a remarkably circumscribed neural system – and to specific cognitive functions, like memory, self-control and recognizing speech. 

Get it?

Proponents of the death penalty often argue that the threat of being executed acts as a deterrent that prevents people from committing murder. But those who oppose capital punishment challenge that claim. And some researchers argue that state-sanctioned execution might actually increase homicide rates.

Now, a panel of independent experts convened by the prestigious National Research Council has taken a look at this question and decided that the available research offers no useful information for policymakers.

Photo by Malingering via Flickr Creative Commons

March Madness begins this week. Pro-basketball stars like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson built their legends in college basketball: both players were known for coming through at critical moments. Others, like Lebron James, are accused of not being able to handle the heat – or come through in the clutch. A wave of new academic research on last-second shots, free throws and playing time recently hit the court.

(Photo by maybeemily via Flickr Creative Commons)

Rap mogul Jay-Z and his pop star wife Beyonce welcomed a baby girl at Lenox Hill hospital two weeks ago. The news quickly outpaced other top stories on Twitter, helped along by the announcement of her name: Blue Ivy Carter, just the latest celebrity moniker to inspire a collective groan and the Twitter hashtag #NamesBetterThanBlueIvy.

(Photo by <a href="" target="_blank">mars discovery district</a> via Flickr Creative Commons)

Word of Mouth keeps its eye out for stories that are interesting, counterintuitive, many of which come from the world of science. It’s part of our mission to find the under-reported, simmering, surprising ideas that make us go “what?”