Talk of the Nation

Monday - Thursday 11:00 a.m. till 1:00 p.m.
  • Hosted by 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.

For decades, slavery tore apart African-American families. Children were sold off from their mothers, and husbands were taken from their wives. Many desperately tried to keep track of each other, even running away to find loved ones. After the Civil War and emancipation, these efforts intensified. Freed slaves posted ads in newspapers and wrote letters — seeking any clue to a family member's whereabouts.

Should Ex-Felons Have The Right To Vote?

Jul 16, 2012

Transcript

JENNIFER LUDDEN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Jennifer Ludden in Washington. In a year where a tight presidential race could be determined by a few swing states, the issue of who is allowed to vote could turn the election, which is why recent moves in Florida and Iowa are getting so much attention.

Bucking a larger trend, these two states are making it harder for former felons to vote. This comes as a number of other states in recent years have made the process easier.

Op-Ed: 'Ban Penn State Football'

Jul 16, 2012

Transcript

JENNIFER LUDDEN, HOST:

And now, The Opinion Page. A damning report last week found that four of the most powerful people at Penn State helped cover up the child sex-abuse allegations against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. The report charges the college with total disregard for the safety of the victims in an attempt to avoid bad press for the university. The university also faces civil suits over the abuses. So is that the end? Sports columnist Buzz Bissinger says it should only be the beginning.

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. If you're out shooting hoops this summer or you're going for a jog, you know it won't be long before you're sopping wet and, you know, it's really sweaty out there. And where's all that sweat coming from? Your body's water supply, of course. You have to replenish those fluids if you sweat a lot. But it's not as simple as the old eight-glasses-a-day mantra. How much should you really drink? Too much water, you can die, as has happened to marathon runners who chugged too much water during the race.

What Happens When Scientists Get It Wrong?

Jul 13, 2012

Reporting in Science, two teams of scientists say they were unable to replicate the results of a 2010 study claiming to have found 'alien life' on Earth--a bacterium that could build its DNA using arsenic. Science journalist Carl Zimmer talks about how the controversy played out online, and how science corrects itself.

Reporting in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, researchers write that extreme heat waves, such as the one last year in Texas, are 20 times more likely today than they were in the 1960s. NOAA climatologist Tom Peterson discusses what future climate change may bring.

The Nuts And Bolts Of High-Speed Rail

Jul 13, 2012

California lawmakers gave the green light to the first phase of construction of high-speed rail in the state. Does this mean that America is on track for faster, sleeker trains? What potential speed bumps still lie ahead? Railroad engineer Christopher Barkan discusses the costs, benefits and state of the technology.

What makes some types of cancer resistant to drugs? Reporting in Nature, researchers write that cancer cells may be dodging treatment with help from seemingly innocent bystanders. Cancer researcher Todd Golub discusses how a tumor's microenvironment may affect its behavior.

Researchers have found a fridge-free way to store vaccines and antibiotics. Biomedical engineer David Kaplan, senior author of the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, discusses how heat-sensitive drugs wrapped in silk stay effective for months at high temperatures.

Look, Listen, Taste

Jul 13, 2012

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Conversations about the environment can often be polarizing. Jonathan Foley, director of the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment, says that rather than rehash the same old debates, environmental issues need to be reframed.

Investigators have yet to rule out arson as they continue to look for the cause of Colorado's Waldo Canyon fire, the most destructive wildfire in state history. Former FBI agent Brad Garrett and forensic psychologist N.G. Berrell talk about the process of investigating fires and the profile of an arsonist.

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Shocking and callous disregard for victims, repeatedly concealed critical facts, failure to protect the children created a dangerous situation for unsuspecting boys lured and victimized repeatedly.

Fans of Star Trek long ago noted that anonymous security officers who accompanied the show's stars rarely survived the experience. Shortly after being beamed down, they would be vaporized, stomped or eaten for dramatic effect. It's a plot device so common that these expendable crewmen became known collectively as redshirts.

In his novel Redshirts, science fiction writer John Scalzi follows Andrew Dahl, a similarly expendable ensign as he sorts out this life-expectancy issue.

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