2012 has been a very jittery year — what with the presidential election, extreme weather events and the looming "fiscal cliff." In response to these tense times, some readers seek out escape; others look to literature that directly confronts the atmospheric uncertainty of the age. I guess I'm in the latter camp, because many of my favorite books this year told stories, imagined and real, about ordinary people who felt like they didn't have a clue what hit 'em.
The giant sequoia is a snow tree, says scientist Steve Sillett, adapted for long winters in the Sierra Nevada. But it's a fire tree, too. Thick bark protects it from burning in lightning-caused fires, which open cones and clear the understory, allowing saplings to find light and prosper.
Credit Michael Nichols / National Geographic
Those numbers represent this giant sequoia. Oh, also: The tree is more than three millennia old, and contains about "54,000 cubic feet of wood and bark," according to National Geographic magazine.
Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 5:50 pm
He better not be talking to his mom.
Here's an experiment you can try. But please be the scientist and not the test subject.
Watch people cross the street and note whether they're yakking on the phone, texting or bopping to tunes while they do it. If you're really ambitious, time how long it takes them to cross.
This past summer researchers from the University of Washington did it. They watched more than 1,100 pedestrians at the 20 intersections in Seattle that racked up the most pedestrian injuries over the last three years.
Zakale Creations is a jewelry-designing operation that employs 30 young people who were previously involved in crime. The Nairobi-based operation is the brainchild of John Mucheru, himself a former mugger.
Credit John Burnett/NPR
After covering East Africa for five months, a profound problem I encountered in every country was what will happen to the continent's exploding cities.
The U.N. predicts that by 2040, six in 10 Africans will live in cities — an estimated 1 billion people. One of the pressing questions for African leaders is how to occupy all the idle young men who turn to crime because there are no jobs.
In Nairobi's Huruma slum, I came across a point of light — one man's attempt to take in thieves and prostitutes and give them honest work, of all things, making jewelry.
Of the 100 "top science stories for 2012" chosen by Discover Magazine, I am most fascinated by #42: "The Myth of Choosy Women, Promiscuous Men." It reports a serious challenge to an experiment that has remained a touchstone in evolutionary biology for over 50 years.
Six-time Grammy nominee Miguel has been heating up the airwaves with his newest album, Kaleidoscope Dream. Miguel sat down with host Michel Martin to discuss his musical style and why he wants to challenge stereotypes about R&B. *Advisory: This conversation may not be suitable for all listeners.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, she is Palestinian, Muslim, she has cerebral palsy and she earns a living as a stand-up comic and that is no joke. We'll meet Maysoon Zayid in just a few minutes.
But, first, we want to talk about something you may want to have on your radar if you're still shopping for holiday gifts and one of the things on your list is a mobile device, especially one that a child might use or borrow.
And finally today, we want to take a moment to remember a legend in Indian classical music. Ravi Shankar died this week at the age of 92. He played the sitar, a long six-stringed wood instrument. He used it to communicate Indian music and culture to an American audience, and in fact audiences around the world. Shankar is known both for his own musicianship and his collaborations with Western greats like the Beatles and John Coltrane. Here's a collaboration with American violinist Yehudi Menuhin. The album is called "West Meets East."