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The Republican National Convention is in 4 days in Cleveland.

The Democratic National Convention is in 11 days in Philadelphia.

NASA has released the first picture of Jupiter taken since the Juno spacecraft went into orbit around the planet on July 4.

The picture was taken on July 10. Juno was 2.7 million miles from Jupiter at the time. The color image shows some of the atmospheric features of the planet, including the giant red spot. You can also see three of Jupiter's moons in the picture: Io, Europa and Ganymede.

The Senate is set to approve a bill intended to change the way police and health care workers treat people struggling with opioid addictions.

My husband and I once took great pleasure in preparing meals from scratch. We made pizza dough and sauce. We baked bread. We churned ice cream.

Then we became parents.

Now there are some weeks when pre-chopped veggies and a rotisserie chicken are the only things between us and five nights of Chipotle.

Parents are busy. For some of us, figuring out how to get dinner on the table is a daily struggle. So I reached out to food experts, parents and nutritionists for help. Here is some of their (and my) best advice for making weeknight meals happen.

"O Canada," the national anthem of our neighbors up north, comes in two official versions — English and French. They share a melody, but differ in meaning.

Let the record show: neither version of those lyrics contains the phrase "all lives matter."

But at the 2016 All-Star Game, the song got an unexpected edit.

At Petco Park in San Diego, one member of the Canadian singing group The Tenors — by himself, according to the other members of the group — revised the anthem.

School's out, and a lot of parents are getting through the long summer days with extra helpings of digital devices.

How should we feel about that?

Police in Baton Rouge say they have arrested three people who stole guns with the goal of killing police officers. They are still looking for a fourth suspect in the alleged plot, NPR's Greg Allen reports.

"Police say the thefts were at a Baton Rouge pawn shop early Saturday morning," Greg says. "One person was arrested at the scene. Since then, two others have been arrested and six of the eight stolen handguns have been recovered. Police are still looking for one other man."

A 13-year-old boy is among those arrested, Greg says.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

After an international tribunal invalidated Beijing's claims to the South China Sea, Chinese authorities have declared in no uncertain terms that they will be ignoring the ruling.

The Philippines brought the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, objecting to China's claims to maritime rights in the disputed waters. The tribunal agreed that China had no legal authority to claim the waters and was infringing on the sovereign rights of the Philippines.

Donald Trump is firing back at Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after she disparaged him in several media interviews. He tweeted late Tuesday that she "has embarrassed all" with her "very dumb political statements" about the candidate. Trump ended his tweet with "Her mind is shot - resign!":

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Reading Up On Thermodynamics

Aug 28, 2012
Originally published on August 28, 2012 1:26 pm

Thermodynamics — the branch of physics dealing with heat and its relation to other forms of energy — is profound stuff.

Rooted in the engineering realities of engines and air conditioners, it also rises above these day-to-day realities to embrace heady, universal principles in complexity, order, chaos and organization. Thermodynamics touches everything that really matters in human life, including — most famously — the nature of time. It is profound and slippery.

Some of this slipperiness showed up in responses to my physics and cities posts for the NPR Cities project. Some folks got angry with me because they claimed the second law is only relevent to closed systems. Some of the criticism comes from a misreading of what "closed" means in thermodynamics.

Thermodynamically "closed" systems exchange no matter with their surroundings. Energy transfer however is just fine for closed systems (No energy transfer means an "adiabatic" system). Other folks missed the point that the second law can still be applied to systems that are not closed and systems that are not in equilibrium. This makes sense because the second law would not be so profound if it only applied to things like an isolated thermos of coffee floating in space. In part, it's all about what you call the system and what you call the environment.

But I am no uber-meister of thermodynamics either. That PhD thing I got helps, but I too have to go back, re-read the basics and then build up to the relevant literature on the subject I am studying. (This is true of all scientific work; you are always reviewing the basics.)

Anyhow, I did (and continue to do) a lot of re-reading of my favorite thermo texts and I wanted to pass one of shortest ones of these along. It's called "The Laws of Thermodynamics" by Peter Atkins and is part of the Very Short Introduction books from Oxford. There are only a few basic equations stated for clarity and no math manipulations to follow. I highly recommend it.

Here is an example of Atkins ability to shift from discussion of the precise meaning of work and energy to a broader point:

"A final point is that the molecular interpretation of heat and work elucidates one aspect of the rise of civilization. Fire preceded the harnessing of fuels to achieve work. The heat of fire — the tumbling of out of energy as the chaotic motion of atoms — is easily contrived for the tumbling is unconstrained. Work is energy tamed, and requires greater sophistication to contrive. Thus humanity stumbled easily on to fire but needed millennia to arrive at the sophistication of the steam engine, the internal combustion engine and the jet engine."

Good stuff.


You can keep up with more of what Adam Frank is thinking on Facebook and on Twitter @AdamFrank4. His latest book is About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.