Talk of the Nation

Monday - Thursday 11:00 a.m. till 1:00 p.m.
Neil Conan

Each day, Talk of the Nation combines the award-winning resources of NPR News with the vital participation of listeners. The result is a spirited and productive exchange of knowledge and insight that delves deeply into the news and ideas of the day.

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Science
11:04 am
Mon November 26, 2012

As Dec. 21 Draws Nigh, The Facts About Doomsday

Some doomsayers predict that the world will end on Dec. 21, 2012, citing the end of the pre-Columbian Mayan calendar.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 11:44 am

On Dec. 21, 2012, some fear that a rogue planet will collide with Earth and destroy the planet, or that the supposed end of the Mayan calendar will lead to the obliteration of the universe.

When people have questions about these scenarios, they often turn to the Internet.

NASA astrobiologist David Morrison has taken it upon himself to enter that online conversation and answer hundreds of questions about the science of existential threats.

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Food
11:25 am
Fri November 23, 2012

Ig Nobel Prizes Celebrate Somewhat Suspect Science

Originally published on Fri November 23, 2012 11:49 am

The Ig Nobel Prizes honor scientific research that, in the words of Master of Ceremonies Marc Abrahams, "first makes you laugh, and then makes you think." This year's prizes, awarded in late September, include citations for research into mysteriously green hair, potentially explosive colonoscopies, and the creation of equations that model the back-and-forth swing of a ponytail in motion.

Science
11:18 am
Fri November 23, 2012

Steven Strogatz: The Joy Of X

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Get out a pencil and paper and your graphic calculator because it's time for a little math review. And we'll warm up with some algebra, move on to imaginary numbers, then the quadratic formula, and we're going to finish up with a bit of vector calculus, how about some probability theory thrown in. No, no, no, I'm just joking. Don't turn off the radio just yet.

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NPR Story
11:07 am
Fri November 23, 2012

NPR: The Ugly Truth About Food Waste in America

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 5:17 am

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Up next, some food for thought as you chomp your Thanksgiving leftovers. Recycling paper and plastic, as you know, is an effective way to save money and energy. So why not recycle all the uneaten food that goes to waste? And there is an awful lot of it. Forty percent of the food in the U.S. today goes uneaten, which means Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion worth of food each year. But that's not all. Food waste, as it decays in landfills, also produces methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas.

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Author Interviews
12:48 pm
Thu November 22, 2012

The Motive Of The Mapmaker

In A History of the World in Twelve Maps, Jerry Brotton examines the maps of ancient history and the way Google Earth allows people to see the world today.
Penguin Books

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 9:56 am

World maps help us make sense of the world around us, and our place in it.

While mapmakers may portray their world maps as accurate, scientific and neutral, every single one describes the world from a certain worldview and culture. From ancient Babylonia to the Renaissance, cartographers have been driven by politics, religion, emotion and math.

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Arts & Life
12:48 pm
Thu November 22, 2012

Bill Connolly's Funny, But Not Clever Comedy

Comedian Billy Connolly received that Outstanding Contribution to Television and Film Award at the 2012 BAFTA Awards in Scotland.
Tony Lyon

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 10:33 am

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

Scottish comedian and actor Billy Connolly has been performing for over 50 years now. His TV credits include the sitcom "Head of the Class." He co-starred with Judi Dench in the movie "Mrs. Brown." New projects include Dustin Hoffmann's directorial debut, "Quartet," with, among others, Maggie Smith. And he plays a dwarf king in "The Hobbit." But what he does, as he puts it, is standup comedy.

(SOUNDBITE OF STANDUP SHOW)

BILLY CONNOLLY: Algebra was a mystery to me.

Connolly, 1A plus 1B?

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Around the Nation
12:48 pm
Thu November 22, 2012

Listening To Service Members, Veterans

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. For the fifth year now, the oral history project StoryCorps has put special attention on the day after Thanksgiving, the day often called Black Friday, StoryCorps transforms into the National Day of Listening.

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From Our Listeners
12:48 pm
Thu November 22, 2012

Missing: Loved Ones On Thanksgiving

It's a tradition for many of us to gather with family and friends on Thanksgiving. The menu and the festivities are often the same: A look at the big parade in New York City on TV, maybe a game of touch football. But some friends may not be able to make it to dinner: the loved ones serving in the military overseas, a family member who's passed away since this time last year, or maybe someone who has to work today. Host Neal Conan takes calls from listeners who want to share stories about who's not at their Thanksgiving table this year.

NPR Story
11:00 am
Wed November 21, 2012

Pluses And Pitfalls Of Second-Term Presidencies

Originally published on Wed November 21, 2012 11:06 am

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. The electoral sun sets for West, the former presidential candidate blames his loss on the president's gifts, but the Tea Party senator-elect from Texas blames that Romney cozied up in that third debate. It's Wednesday and time for a...

SENATOR-ELECT TED CRUZ: French kissed...

CONAN: ...edition of the political junkie.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDINGS)

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.

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NPR Story
11:00 am
Wed November 21, 2012

Anti-Government Coalition Shifts Dynamics In Syria

Originally published on Wed November 21, 2012 11:17 am

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

Much more later today and in the days ahead on the ceasefire announced between Israel and Hamas about winners and losers and what happens next. But what effect of the news will be to refocus attention on the civil war in Syria where there have also been some major developments.

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NPR Story
11:00 am
Wed November 21, 2012

Moral Injury: The Psychological Wounds Of War

Originally published on Thu November 22, 2012 8:24 am

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. Whether you call it battle fatigue or shellshock or PTSD, we've come to accept that the trauma of combat can leave profound psychological scars. But how do you describe the damage from actions that violate one's values, but don't involve trauma, injury from horrific scenes that betray core moral beliefs?

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From Our Listeners
12:13 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Letters: Banning High School Football, Shoplifting

Originally published on Wed November 21, 2012 6:23 am

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

It's Tuesday and time to read from your comments. Last Wednesday, we discussed the dangers and benefits of high school football. Walt in Bakersfield, California wrote to say: I learned teamwork, perseverance and sacrifice of personal goals for larger good through football. At work, the word coachability is applied to people who will listen with humility and attentiveness. Other sports are more individualistically oriented. Please, consider these losses before you drop football.

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Books
11:46 am
Tue November 20, 2012

The Key To Zen For Tony Bennett: 'Life Is A Gift'

Legendary singer Tony Bennett has won 17 Grammy Awards. He had his first No. 1 hit in 1951 with the song "Because of You."
Marion Curtis AP

Originally published on Wed November 21, 2012 11:36 am

At 86, legendary singer Tony Bennett says he's at the top of his game and more passionate than ever about his art.

"I want to try to prove that at 100, I could sing as well as I was singing when I was 45 or 43," he tells NPR's Neal Conan. "I'd like to prove that if you take care of yourself, you can actually not regret the fact that you've become an old-timer, but you can just still improve and actually get better."

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Africa
11:46 am
Tue November 20, 2012

Conflict In Congo Escalates, Goes Largely Unnoticed

Originally published on Wed November 21, 2012 11:36 am

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Congolese rebels today captured the city of Goma, as government troops melted away and U.N. peacekeepers stood by. And if that sounds a bit like deja vu, you may be remembering a similar battle on the same ground four years ago, or parts of other wars that have ravaged the eastern part of Congo for nearly two decades now, wars blamed for the deaths of five million over those years, along with a long list of associated crimes including systematic rape, looting and child soldiers.

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Digital Life
11:46 am
Tue November 20, 2012

The Aesthetics Of First-Person Shooter Video Games

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 1:29 pm

First-person shooter games have become more cinematic and aesthetically pleasing over the years and dominate the video game industry. Stephen Totilo, editor in chief of online video game publication Kotaku, explains the appeal of point-and-shoot games.

Movie Interviews
11:31 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Sally Field Captures History In Role Of Mrs. 'Lincoln'

To prepare for her role in Lincoln, Sally Field traveled and researched Mary Todd Lincoln, and even put on 25 pounds.
DreamWorks

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 9:56 am

In Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln, Academy Award-winning actress Sally Field plays Abraham Lincoln's emotionally tormented wife, Mary Todd Lincoln.

Field lobbied hard for the role and did extensive research to capture the complex first lady, who modern observers believe may have suffered from bipolar disorder. Field immersed herself in biographies and books about the era, and visited Mary's home and collections of Lincoln memorabilia.

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Opinion
11:17 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Working On Thanksgiving?: Reasons To Be Grateful

Originally published on Wed November 21, 2012 11:42 am

Transcript

JENNIFER LUDDEN, HOST:

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Middle East
11:14 am
Mon November 19, 2012

The New Landscape Of Middle East Conflict

Originally published on Sun November 25, 2012 6:50 am

Transcript

JENNIFER LUDDEN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Jennifer Ludden, in Washington, Neal Conan is away. Conflict between Israel and Gaza continues for a sixth day, as Israel has responded to a barrage of rocket fire from Hamas with air strikes and missiles fired by the Israeli navy. More than 90 Palestinians have been killed and three Israelis. Israel has called up tens of thousands of reservists in case of a possible ground invasion.

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Around the Nation
11:01 am
Mon November 19, 2012

When Older Siblings Step Into Parents' Shoes

Originally published on Wed November 21, 2012 11:42 am

Transcript

JENNIFER LUDDEN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Jennifer Ludden, in Washington. When a parent is deported, goes to prison or passes away, an older child may step into the role to keep the family together. In an instant, thoughts of prom dates and sports matches are replaced with worry about finding work and paying bills.

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Science
10:03 am
Fri November 16, 2012

Searching For 'The Particle At The End Of The Universe'

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 12:02 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Why does stuff have mass, you know, that gives it weight? If you're a regular listener, you might recall that it has to do with how subatomic particles interact with something called the Higgs Field, right? Higgs boson, becoming more familiar? How do scientists know that? Well, it's theory. It's backed up by, in part, by the reported discovery of the Higgs Boson at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, back in July.

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