More Public Radio News

Love, quantum physics and 'entanglement'

Jul 26, 2017

Love. Quantum physics. Completely unrelated, and yet strangely parallel.

For one thing, they're both mysterious — we don’t really understand how either one of them works. But they share something else — what scientists call "entanglement."

People get entangled with each other when they fall in love, and it can start when they’re nowhere near each other, perhaps catching each other’s eyes for the first time across a crowded room.

The future is electric for the global car industry

Jul 26, 2017
Phil Noble/Reuters

It wasn't long ago that hybrid and electric cars seemed a futuristic novelty. But cars that do more than burn gas passed a new milestone this week.

Volvo has announced that from 2019 onwards, none of its new models will be conventional gasoline-only. All of them will be electric-only, or hybrid gasoline-electric.

There are planned to be five fully electric Volvo models by 2021, as well as hybrid models. Volvo will still manufacture earlier models that have pure combustion engines.

Could this be the start of a new electric era in driving? Some experts think so.

Adam Bettcher/Reuters

I've been covering protests over police shootings in the Twin Cities since I got here two years ago.

But when Justine Damond was shot by a Minneapolis police officer, it seemed like a very different experience, and not just because of the race, gender and nationality of the victim.

Clearing mines and explosives in Mosul

Jul 26, 2017
Alaa al-Marjani/Reuters

The city of Mosul has been retaken by Iraqi forces, and victory has been declared over ISIS.

But thousands of people are presumed dead, close to a million have been driven out of their homes, and nearly half of Iraq’s second-largest city lies in ruins.

Stephanie Keith/Reuters

When Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya met with top advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign last summer at Trump Tower, the attorney arrived prepared to hand over a plastic envelope of documents.

No one has revealed where that folder is today.

But one name reportedly flagged in the file is William Browder. The US-born hedge fund manager was once one of the biggest foreign investors in Russia. Then he fell out with Russian authorities and, in 2009, his lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died under mysterious circumstances in a Russian prison.

The Indiana Jones of the art world may solve history’s biggest art heist

Jul 25, 2017

Back in 1990, two thieves disguised as police officers walked into Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and walked out with 13 pieces of art worth $500 million. In May, decades after the statute of limitations expired on the crime, the museum doubled the reward — to $10 million — for the return of the pieces.

Sarah Birnbaum/PRI

A half-hour outside of Washington, DC, there's a six-bedroom townhouse with a white portico. It was the house of Jane Kambalame, a diplomat in the United States from Malawi. Her job was to advocate for Malawian citizens. But there was one Malawian who didn't get Kambalame's help: Kambalame's maid, Fainess Lipenga.

When Giovana Xavier looked at the lineup of writers who would attend FLIP 2016, the International Literary Festival of Paraty, she held her breath. Not one black woman author was invited.

“I felt overlooked, left behind; I felt anger and pain. I wondered how could I turn those feelings into something creative, something beautiful, how could we evolve? That's what history is all about,” said Xavier, a university professor at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro who is behind the Intelectuais Negras group, a nonprofit that relies on the "commitment of black women activists."

Seawater in the pores? It’s what made Roman concrete great.

Jul 25, 2017
Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

The ancient Romans mastered concrete more than 2,000 years ago and used it to build piers, breakwaters and other structures. Despite the batterings of time and seawater, some of those structures still stand today.

In fact, their concrete has grown stronger over time — the result, scientists now say, of complex interactions between seawater and volcanic ash used in the mortar.

Jason Margolis

Last December, then-President-elect Donald Trump came to the Carrier factory in Indianapolis to deliver the big news: 1,100 jobs weren’t going to Mexico. Trump had used the bully pulpit and $7 million in state tax breaks to help accomplish this.

Sierra Club

More than 250 mayors from around the country convened in Miami Beach this week at the annual United States Conference of Mayors and vowed to buck President Donald Trump's inaction on climate

Antarctica is changing.

The typical image is that of a pristine, white wilderness of ice and snow. “The white of the snow, the brown of the rocks, and the blue of the sky is a perfect day on the Antarctic Peninsula,” says researcher Dominic Hodgson of the British Antarctic Survey.     

But Hodgson says there is increasingly a new color: green.

Jason Margolis

For more than a century, Newton, Iowa, was the quintessential company town. Maytag started building washing machines there in 1893. The company grew into a global brand, and Newton, a city of 15,000, prospered along with it.

When Maytag closed its doors in 2007, it was a rough transition. At the time, some 2,000 people were building washers and dryers at the old Maytag manufacturing facility. The cavernous building is the size of seven average-sized Walmarts.

Alaa Al-Faqir/Reuters

The Central Intelligence Agency is shutting down its program to support rebels fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, The Washington Post reported.

Citing unnamed US officials, the Post said the four-year-old covert operation has had limited impact, especially since Russian forces stepped in to support Assad in 2015.

The radicalization of a surfer dude

Jul 24, 2017
Mike Blake/Reuters

The subculture of southern California surfers has long fascinated novelist Laleh Khadivi. 

She calls those who ride the waves there a "tribe unto themselves."

"These surfers have found their God, it is the ocean, and they will come every day and pay homage to it," she says. 

Dado Ruvic/Reuters

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has ambitious plans to streamline and restructure the State Department. And the first thing on the chopping block could be the war crimes office.

Foreign Policy magazine reported that a member of Tillerson’s team informed the Office of Global Criminal Justice Special Coordinator Todd Buchwald that he and his staff were being reassigned.

A new book examines 'The Book that Changed America'

Jul 24, 2017

No single book influenced US history more than Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species,” according to a new book by Randall Fuller, professor of English at the University of Tulsa.

The kilogram is getting a new look

Jul 23, 2017
<a href="">National Institute of Standards and Technology</a>

For over a century, we’ve been using the same object to define the kilogram: a pingpong-ball-size chunk of platinum-iridium kept in Paris under lock and key. That will soon change.

Courtesy of Kathleen Maclay

A new study estimates that southern areas of the US, many of which are already poor, could face a 20 percent decline in economic activity if carbon emissions continue unabated through the 21st century.

The study was issued by economists with the Climate Impact Lab, a consortium of experts from the Universities of California, Chicago and Rutgers and the Rhodium Group.

Looking back at 'The Summer of Love'

Jul 22, 2017
GPS/Flickr Commons

This weekend, I’m hosting an hour-long special on the BBC World Service, looking back at that wild revolutionary moment in the cultural and political life of America. And really the world.

I met some fascinating people in San Francisco making this radio documentary for the BBC, and I want to share with you some of what they told me. Because when you look around America and the world in 2017, it's hard not to think back about what a small community did to challenge the establishment 50 years ago.

<a href="">NASA/Kathryn Hansen</a>. <a href="">CC BY 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

It’s 2017. What does a scientist look like?

If the first image that popped into your head was an older man with frizzy hair and a white lab coat, surrounded by bubbling test tubes, you’re not wrong — the Einsteinlike “mad scientist” is still a prevailing image in popular culture.

Does your sunscreen make the grade?

Jul 22, 2017
<a href="">David Lezcano</a> via <a href="">Unsplash</a>.&nbsp;

In the United States, sunscreen use is on the rise — but so are skin cancer cases. What’s going on?

As it turns out, it could come down to the types of sunscreen we’re using. In a recent test of nearly 1,500 sunscreens, moisturizers and lip balms that advertised sun protection, scientists at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that 73 percent of the products don’t provide the protection consumers think they’re getting, or they contain questionable ingredients.

Particles Behaving Badly

Jul 22, 2017

Can We Pay People To Save The Rainforest?

Jul 22, 2017
Titis Setianingtyas/PRI

A key strategy in the fight against climate change is slowing the rapid destruction of the world’s forests.

When trees burn or decompose, they release carbon. About 10 percent of the greenhouse gases emitted every year are from this newly freed carbon rising into the atmosphere.

Eilis O&#39;Neill/PRI

The Westridge Marine Terminal overlooks a finger of water that separates Vancouver, BC, from the deep green hills of the nearby provincial parks. It’s where oil tankers come to fill up, at the terminus of the TransMountain Pipeline, which winds down through the trees and straight out onto a dock.

The pipeline’s been carrying oil here from the tar sands of Alberta for decades, but it’s a pretty sleepy operation by industry standards.

Eric Gaillard/Reuters

The Washington Post's Moscow bureau chief, David Filipov, is a frequent guest on Russian TV talk shows — an experience he lovingly calls "a suicide mission."  

"When you go on those shows, you're the token Westerner. And everybody who has ever had a gripe about America can sound off on you." 

Even if that gripe is completely unrelated to the topic at hand.