Sports Commentary: Why Wimbledon Still Thrills

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The unassuming hero of Jonas Karlsson's clever, Kafkaesque parable is the opposite of a malcontent. Despite scant education, a limited social life, and no prospects for success as it is usually defined, he's that rarity, a most happy fella with an amazing ability to content himself with very little. But one day, returning to his barebones flat from his dead-end, part-time job at a video store, he finds an astronomical bill from an entity called W.R.D. He assumes it's a scam. Actually, it is more sinister-- and it forces him to take a good hard look at his life and values.

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Donald Trump picked a military town, Virginia Beach, Va., to give a speech Tuesday on how he would go about reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs if elected.

He blamed the Obama administration for a string of scandals at the VA during the past two years, and claimed that his rival, Hillary Clinton, has downplayed the problems and won't fix them.

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The season for blueberries used to be short. You'd find fresh berries in the store just during a couple of months in the middle of summer.

Now, though, it's always blueberry season somewhere. Blueberry production is booming. The berries are grown in Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, Michigan and the Pacific Northwest — not to mention the southern hemisphere.

But in any one location, the season is still short. And this means that workers follow the blueberry harvest, never staying in one place for long.

More than 4 in 10 working Americans say their job affects their overall health, with stress being cited most often as having a negative impact.

That's according to a new survey about the workplace and health from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

While it may not sound so surprising that work affects health, when we looked more closely, we found one group was particularly affected by stress on the job: the disabled.

If you've stepped foot in a comic book store in the past few years, you'll have noticed a distinct shift. Superheroes, once almost entirely white men, have become more diverse.

There's been a biracial Spider-Man, a Muslim Ms. Marvel, and just last week, Marvel announced that the new Iron Man will be a teenage African-American girl.

Joining this lineup today is Kong Kenan, a Chinese boy who, as part of a reboot of the DC comics universe, is one of four characters taking up Superman's mantle.

On Tuesday, an international tribunal soundly rejected Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea, an area where China has been building islands and increasing its military activity.

The case before the international tribunal in the Hague was brought by the Philippines, challenging what's widely seen as a territorial grab by Beijing. The tribunal essentially agreed. Beijing immediately said the decision was null and void and that it would ignore it. There are concerns now that the tribunal's decision could inflame tensions between the U.S. and China.

The deaths last week of three African-American men in encounters with police, along with the killing of five Dallas officers by a black shooter, have left many African-American gun owners with conflicting feelings; those range from shock to anger and defiance. As the debate over gun control heats up, some African-Americans see firearms as critical to their safety, especially in times of racial tension.

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For Copernicus, A 'Perfect Heaven' Put Sun At Center

Nov 8, 2011

It doesn't happen often, but there are times when a single book turns the world on its head. Isaac Newton's Principia unraveled the mystery of gravity. Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species explained how evolution worked.

But before either of these, there was On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres by Nicolaus Copernicus. It was published in 1543. In it, Copernicus made the astounding claim that Earth revolves around the sun, not the other way around.

In the year 1500, every learned person in Europe knew one thing for absolutely certain: The sun and the planets travel around Earth. All astronomy texts said so. The Bible said so. There was no doubt.

Oh, sure, there were a few bits of conflicting evidence. For example, the planets seem to move first one way and then the other in the sky. But never mind that. Earth was at the center of the universe. Period.

And then came Copernicus.

"He put the Earth, which had forever been considered the immobile center of the universe, he spun it on an axis and had it moving around the sun," says Dava Sobel, author of A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos. Although the idea that the sun, not Earth, was at the center of things was outrageous, it did solve the problem of the planets appearing to move backward.

"If you have the Earth in motion, then you can show that that strange backward drift of some of the planets is a result of the Earth moving faster and overtaking them on an inside track so that they look like they're stopping and moving backward," she says.

Today, every kid in school learns that Earth goes around the sun. In 1510, it was a hard concept to grasp.

"It went against everything that your senses tell you. It went against common sense, it went against your feeling that certainly the ground underneath you is not moving, is not spinning around," says Sobel.

Violating common sense wasn't the only problem in the 16th century with a theory that called for Earth to move. "There was a biblical prejudice against the Earth's motion. And Copernicus really worried about that," says Sobel.

It might have been that worry that caused Copernicus to delay publication for three decades. It might have been fear of ridicule for his crazy ideas. But apart from some correspondence with other astronomers, Copernicus kept his theories to himself.

That changed when he received a visit from Rheticus, a young German mathematician. Rheticus had heard of Copernicus' theories and was inspired to make the arduous and risky journey to Poland to meet the aging astronomer. Sobel's book contains a play imagining how Rheticus convinced Copernicus to share his theories with the world.

On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres was finally published in 1543, and nobody seemed too upset. "Copernicus' ideas were already being taught in the universities in the 16th century," says Robert Westman, a historian of science at the University of California, San Diego, and a visiting fellow at the Huntington Library. "But they were taught and immediately dismissed as absurd."

Westman, author of The Copernican Question: Prognostication, Skepticism, and Celestial Order, says it took awhile for scholars to accept Copernicus' ideas. "I venture to say there's nobody around who accepts Copernicus' theory today because they've read his book. It's a very unfriendly book. And even in the 16th century, it was seen to be difficult to read."

Galileo, not Copernicus, took the heat for insisting Earth was in motion, not fixed at the center of the solar system.

Westman says any sophisticated scientific argument that seems to defy common sense will be hard for nonscientists to accept. Take the strange weather patterns we're beginning to see around the world. How does a nonscientist decide if that's related at all to climate change?

"It depends on which authorities you trust," says Westman. "If you trust the scientific community, then you might be willing to say it has something to do with global warming. But it's not because you go to your laboratory and do experiments."

While the public debate over global warming continues, the debate over Copernicus' theories is long over. In fact, his book is regarded as a global treasure. If you want to buy a first edition for your home library, it will cost you about $2 million.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.