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Science

Nick Pyenson / National Geographic

They can weigh over a hundred tons, live their entire lives underwater, and some even hunt using sound through a method known as echolocation. Yet, whales are also complex social creatures who share much in common with humans.

This hour we talk with paleontologist Nick Pyenson about why he has dedicated his life to studying whales, or as he puts it, “Earth’s Most Awesome Creatures.” Pyenson’s new book, Spying on Whales, takes readers on a scientific quest to understand the evolutionary journey of whales from dog-sized land mammals to the ocean giants of today.

Updated at 6:55 a.m. ET

This year's Nobel Prize in Physics has been "split" — with one half going to Arthur Ashkin, an American who won for his work with optical tweezers, while Gérard Mourou of France and Donna Strickland of Canada share the other half for work in generating high-intensity ultrashort optical pulses.

Together, their achievements mark groundbreaking achievements in the field of laser physics.

"This year's prize is about tools made from light," said the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm in its announcement on Tuesday.

Books DAMSELFLY and THE DIALOGUES
Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Check out some of the titles recommended during this episode here.

Now that it’s summer, it’s time to head to the beach with a good book! For many of us, vacation is one of the few times we get to read for fun. Don’t know what book to pick up? Where We Live has got you covered.

David Siu / Creative Commons

Nobody likes the termite. They get into the wood in our homes that can lead to infuriating and expensive repairs. What's to like.

It turns out, there's a lot to like about the termite; scientists study how termites build their "mounds" for clues to solving some of the world's most pressing problems, like mitigating the effects of drought, building colonies on Mars, and the creation of biofuels. 

Adam Metallo / Smithsonian Institution

They can weigh over a hundred tons, live their entire lives underwater, and some even hunt using sound through a method known as echolocation. Yet, whales are also complex social creatures who share much in common with humans.

This hour we talk with paleontologist Nick Pyenson about why he has dedicated his life to studying whales, or as he puts it, “Earth’s Most Awesome Creatures.” Pyenson’s new book, Spying on Whales, takes readers on a scientific quest to understand the evolutionary journey of whales from dog-sized land mammals to the ocean giants of today.

Christel Øverland Preteni / flickr creative commons

humor = tragedy + time

Okay, but then the logical next question is: How much time?

If it's okay, at this point, to joke about, say, The Spanish Inquisition... what about, for instance, the Holocaust? Or AIDS? September 11th? The #MeToo movement?

The Battle For Butter

Aug 20, 2018
Robert S. Donovan/flickr creative commons

We tend not to think much about that pat of butter we put on our morning toast, including how the store-bought sweet cream butter we're eating likely pales in comparison to the rich, nutty flavor of  the cultured butter not found in many stores.

Paramount Pictures

Colin's quite fond of this little piece of trivia: Tom Cruise was five years older during the production of Mission: Impossible -- Fallout than Wilford Brimley was during the filming of Cocoon. And it seems we're all okay with Tom Cruise as a 56-year-old action star. Fallout's opening weekend was the biggest for a Mission: Impossible movie and the second-biggest of Cruise's career.

Fallout is the best-received movie in the M:I franchise too. If you had to pick the five best blockbusters of this decade, you could put together a totally reasonable list made just of Tom Cruise movies. (Here, look: Edge of Tomorrow, Jack Reacher, and the last three Mission: Impossibles. See?) In fact, at this point, if you like high-concept summer popcorn movies, but you don't like comic books/Star Wars/Star Trek/Harry Potter/etc.... what else even is there besides Tom Cruise movies anymore? Not much.

Carmen Baskauf / WNPR

It’s usually historians and scholars who get excited when a university acquires an ancient document. But in the 1960s, a map acquired by Yale University caused such a stir it divided the country.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

The Ethel Walker School in Simsbury recently hosted a fair showcasing its STEAM summer program. The program gives kids in pre-K through fifth grade from Hartford Public Schools an opportunity to develop skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.

A statue of a black lab in the likeness of Mattie, a K-9 that served with the Connecticut State Police for six years, sits a top a memorial built outside of the Connecticut Fire Academy in Windsor Locks.
Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

The Connecticut State Police have unveiled a statue in Windsor Locks honoring the memory of a black lab who served from 1986 to 1992 in the K-9 unit.

Stock Catalog / Creative Commons


Type the word "diet" into a search engine and... bam... you’ll unlock a goldmine of results: diet books, diet blogs, diet pills, and other evidence of a diet-crazed world.

But what drove society to become so obsessed with food restriction? How did something as simple as eating become so complicated?

This hour, we take a bite out of... diets and diet trends... with guest host David DesRoches.

 

We also look back on the history of the federal government's Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). What impact has the program had on the diets and health of Native communities?

 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Inside our genomes, we carry information about our recent ancestors as well as ancient human history. This hour, we sit down with science writer Carl Zimmer to talk about his new book, She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity. We ask him what our DNA can—and can’t—tell us about where we’re from and who we are.

NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, 2013 Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition Science Team

The octopus has always been the stuff of spine-tingling legend, like that of the Kraken, the many-armed sea monster believed to drag ships to the bottom of the sea after dining on the crew. Or  Gertie the Pus, the giant Pacific octopus that lives under the Narrows Bridge connecting Tacoma, Washington to Gig Harbor.

Excerpt from The Dialogues by Clifford V Johnson
Clifford V Johnson / MIT Press

It’s summer! That means if you’re lucky, you’ll have extra time to read a book while you're sitting on the beach, laying poolside, or after sneaking out of work early.

Recently on Connecticut Public Radio’s Where We Live, host Lucy Nalpathanchil interviewed Petra Mayer, an editor at NPR Books. Mayer went through the best books for you to explore this summer across multiple genres--from this year’s latest releases to upcoming new titles.

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