Robert Krulwich http://kasu.org en Where The Birds Are Is Not Where You'd Think http://kasu.org/post/where-birds-are-not-where-youd-think This is a trick question. Where would you expect to find the greatest variety of birds?<p>Downtown, in a city?<p>Or far, far from downtown — in the fields, forests, mountains, where people are scarce?<p>Or in the suburbs? Mon, 28 Jul 2014 16:19:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 47583 at http://kasu.org Where The Birds Are Is Not Where You'd Think An Animal Makes A $10,000 Deposit, But Not At The Bank http://kasu.org/post/animal-makes-10000-deposit-not-bank It's a highly specialized category to be sure: "Longest." But that's what the auctioneer is selling. According to the catalog of <a href="http://www.chait.com/asp/fullCatalogue.asp?salelot=NH1407+++340+">I.M. Chait Gallery</a>, in Beverly Hills, "This truly spectacular specimen is possibly the longest example of coprolite ever to be offered at auction."<p>Coprolite is fossilized fecal matter. This specimen is roughly 20 million years old. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:03:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 47375 at http://kasu.org An Animal Makes A $10,000 Deposit, But Not At The Bank What's Better Than A Total Eclipse Of The Sun? Check This http://kasu.org/post/whats-better-total-eclipse-sun-check <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyZoD7BRTtg</p> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:55:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 47311 at http://kasu.org What's Better Than A Total Eclipse Of The Sun? Check This Neil Whosis? What You Don't Know About The 1969 Moon Landing http://kasu.org/post/neil-whosis-what-you-dont-know-about-1969-moon-landing Forty-five years ago, this week, 123 million of us watched Neil and Buzz step onto the moon. In 1969, we numbered about 200 million, so more than half of America was in the audience that day. Neil Armstrong instantly became a household name, an icon, a hero. And then — and this, I bet, you didn't know — just as quickly, he faded away.<p>"Whatever Happened to Neil Whosis?" asked the <em>Chicago Tribune</em><strong> </strong>in 1974.<strong> </strong><p>This is a missing chapter in the space exploration story. We like to think that after Apollo 11, the first duo on the moon became legendary. Wed, 16 Jul 2014 15:51:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 47054 at http://kasu.org Neil Whosis? What You Don't Know About The 1969 Moon Landing The Most Astonishing Wave-Tracking Experiment Ever http://kasu.org/post/most-astonishing-wave-tracking-experiment-ever I'm standing on a beach and I see, a few hundred yards out, a mound of water heading right at me. It's not a wave, not yet, but a swollen patch of ocean, like the top of a moving beach ball, what sailors call a "swell." As it gets closer, its bottom hits the rising shore below, forcing the water up, then over, sending it tumbling onto the beach, a tongue of foam coming right up to my toes — and that's when I look down, as the wave melts into the sand and I say,<p>"Hi, I'm from New York. But what about you? Where are you from?"<p>Yes, I'm asking a wave to tell me where it was born. Sun, 13 Jul 2014 09:30:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 46898 at http://kasu.org The Most Astonishing Wave-Tracking Experiment Ever A Tough Little Droplet Fights To Stick Around http://kasu.org/post/tough-little-droplet-fights-stick-around <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbGz1njqhxU</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtlgI34y3Wc</p> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 46705 at http://kasu.org A Tough Little Droplet Fights To Stick Around Tell Me, Wave, Where Did You Come From? Who Made You? http://kasu.org/post/tell-me-wave-where-did-you-come-who-made-you <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qQQXTMih1A</p> Sun, 06 Jul 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 46580 at http://kasu.org Tell Me, Wave, Where Did You Come From? Who Made You? Watch It Swallow An Entire Tree In Seconds http://kasu.org/post/watch-it-swallow-entire-tree-seconds <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYKg0gbRFns</p> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 46406 at http://kasu.org Watch It Swallow An Entire Tree In Seconds Her Baby Is At Risk: Lauren's Story http://kasu.org/post/her-baby-risk-laurens-story They're odds. That's all they are. Not fate, just probabilities. <a href="http://www.laurenweinstein.com/">Lauren Weinstein</a>, cartoonist, is having a baby, and she's told — out of the blue — that she and her husband are both carriers of the gene that causes cystic fibrosis. They are sent to a genetic counselor. What happens next — told in five beautifully drawn, emotionally eloquent cartoons — tells what it's like to walk the edge for a few weeks. She's so many things (sad, funny, scared, puzzled), and then there's the ender. Sun, 29 Jun 2014 09:18:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 46273 at http://kasu.org Her Baby Is At Risk: Lauren's Story What Not To Serve Buzzards For Lunch, A Glorious Science Experiment http://kasu.org/post/what-not-serve-buzzards-lunch-glorious-science-experiment OK, I'm doing great science experiments. We've done sex (see <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2014/06/25/325200399/two-glorious-science-experiments-one-about-sex-the-other-about-lunch">previous post</a>). On to lunch!<p>This is the story of a bird, a puzzle, and a painting. The painting, curiously, helped solve the puzzle, which is: How do vultures find food?<p>In America, back in the 1820s, everybody knew the answer. Vultures are scavengers. They eat dead things. Dead things smell. Thu, 26 Jun 2014 18:38:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 46174 at http://kasu.org What Not To Serve Buzzards For Lunch, A Glorious Science Experiment Two Glorious Science Experiments: One About Sex, The Other About Lunch http://kasu.org/post/two-glorious-science-experiments-one-about-sex-other-about-lunch Done right, a good science experiment is simple, clear and revealing. Done splendidly, it's a tale you don't forget. Let's do the sex one first. It took place in Italy, in the 1760s, when a Catholic priest and scholar, <a href="http://embryo.asu.edu/pages/lazzaro-spallanzani">Lazzaro Spallanzani</a>, was thinking about sperm — which is why he decided to dress frogs in pants, like this ...<p>That's right, pants. Wed, 25 Jun 2014 15:26:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 46105 at http://kasu.org Two Glorious Science Experiments: One About Sex, The Other About Lunch Man Floats Free In Hotel Corridor http://kasu.org/post/man-floats-free-hotel-corridor <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiOjKotMqO0</p> Sun, 22 Jun 2014 08:56:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 45948 at http://kasu.org Man Floats Free In Hotel Corridor Wrong! Deconstructing 5 Famous History Stories http://kasu.org/post/wrong-deconstructing-5-famous-history-stories <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYzfKiIWN4g</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLvBCR1ZOVo</p> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 13:46:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 45885 at http://kasu.org Wrong! Deconstructing 5 Famous History Stories Lights, Lights, Lights, Action! A Crazy New Light Projector http://kasu.org/post/lights-lights-lights-action-crazy-new-light-projector What can you do with a spotlight?<p>You can light a spot.<p>But what if you give yourself more options and invent a tool that lets light spill, splash or tighten into a beam as thin as a pencil line — a beam of light that can draw!<p>Draw what? Oh my God, so many things: a galloping unicorn, a friendly girl, a guy who kicks you in the face, a wormhole, a ball that splashes into a fluid, a cube, a spiral, a rabbit, a squid, a scribble.<p>There's a performer in New York who calls himself <a href="http://www.adandypunk.com/#!ego/c10fk">a dandypunk</a>. Mon, 16 Jun 2014 11:16:34 +0000 Robert Krulwich 45666 at http://kasu.org Lights, Lights, Lights, Action! A Crazy New Light Projector Unstealing Treasures: A Reverse Burglary http://kasu.org/post/unstealing-treasures-reverse-burglary <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dvQDNgYmKU</p> Sat, 14 Jun 2014 09:48:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 45607 at http://kasu.org Unstealing Treasures: A Reverse Burglary How We Learned That Frogs Fly http://kasu.org/post/how-we-learned-frogs-fly There are places where frogs could be — but aren't.<p>And places where frogs could be — and are.<p>Ninety years ago, scientists were debating the question of animal dispersal. How come there are kangaroos in Australia, and none in southern Africa --which seems, environmentally, very kangaroo-friendly? Certain frogs show up in warm ponds in one part of the world, but warm ponds a thousand miles away have none. Why?<p>Scientists in the 1930s hadn't yet come up with the notion of plate tectonics (that continents break up and move, carrying animals with them). Wed, 11 Jun 2014 10:03:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 45446 at http://kasu.org How We Learned That Frogs Fly How Chocolate Might Save The Planet http://kasu.org/post/how-chocolate-might-save-planet When you unwrap it, break off a piece and stick it in your mouth, it doesn't remind you of the pyramids, a suspension bridge or a skyscraper; but chocolate, says materials scientist <a href="http://www.markmiodownik.net/Mark_Miodownik/Index-Page.html">Mark Miodownik</a>, "is one of our greatest engineering creations."<p>True, it begins with a <a href="http://www.icco.org/about-cocoa/growing-cocoa.html">cocoa bean</a> plucked from a tree. But no one would eat a raw cocoa bean. Wed, 04 Jun 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 45136 at http://kasu.org How Chocolate Might Save The Planet A Little Bird Either Learns Its Name Or Dies http://kasu.org/post/little-bird-either-learns-its-name-or-dies I've been wondering lately, do animals invent names? As in names for themselves? Names for each other? I've always thought that what we do when we call ourselves "Ralph" or "Laura" is unique, something exclusively human. But it turns out that's wrong. Other animals have name-like calls that they use much like we do. I've <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2014/04/15/300136332/can-it-be-parrots-name-their-children-and-those-names-like-ours-stick-for-life">posted</a> about this before (regarding horses, dolphins and little parakeets) ...<p>... and now I've discovered a new one. Wed, 28 May 2014 16:29:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 44836 at http://kasu.org A Little Bird Either Learns Its Name Or Dies A Young Woman Falls In Love With Everything http://kasu.org/post/young-woman-falls-love-everything You start with difference, with mystery. Some things spiral, some become spheres, some branch, some don't. We know that inert atoms quicken, become bees, goats, clouds, then dissolve back into randomness. We look at these things, all these very, very different things, and we wonder, are they really different, or is every thing we see <em>one thing</em>, expressed differently? Does the universe have rules? How many? Could there be a single generating principle, a oneness?<p><a href="http://www.xiangjunshi.com/">Xiangjun Shi</a> is a freelance animator, a filmmaker in New York. Sun, 25 May 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 44699 at http://kasu.org A Young Woman Falls In Love With Everything Jupiter's Dot And Mine. Why Life Is Unfair http://kasu.org/post/jupiters-dot-and-mine-why-life-unfair When I was 9, my dad drew this picture of me. You will notice something on my left cheek — a little brown spot.<p>That's a mole. The doctor called it "a birthmark." My mom called it "a beauty mark." I was born with it. Having grown up before supermodel Cindy Crawford became famous, I was not familiar with the allure of beauty marks and, anyway, I'm a guy. My mom said it was hardly noticeable. I didn't believe her.<p>It didn't go away. Worse, in my mind it was growing bigger. In grade school, I worried that the mark on my cheek was the first thing people saw when they looked at me. Thu, 22 May 2014 18:26:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 44585 at http://kasu.org Jupiter's Dot And Mine. Why Life Is Unfair So What If It's Ugly? It Just Keeps On Going ... http://kasu.org/post/so-what-if-its-ugly-it-just-keeps-going Far, far, far away is a great place to be — if you want to stay marvelous. There is a plant, called <em>Welwitschia mirabilis</em> (mirabilis being Latin for marvelous), found only one place on Earth. You can get there, as artist/photographer Rachel Sussman did, by driving through the vast emptiness of the Namibian desert, the Namib Naukluft, in Africa.<p><a href="http://www.conifers.org/we/Welwitschiaceae.php">Welwitschia</a>, when you finally get to see one, sits apart. It's very alone. All its relatives, its cousins, nieces, nephews have died away. Wed, 21 May 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 44512 at http://kasu.org So What If It's Ugly? It Just Keeps On Going ... Intriguing Lime-Green Blobs Appear In The Andes Mountains. Are They Alive? http://kasu.org/post/intriguing-lime-green-blobs-appear-andes-mountains-are-they-alive <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPvKxdZbBm8</p> Sun, 18 May 2014 09:27:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 44364 at http://kasu.org Intriguing Lime-Green Blobs Appear In The Andes Mountains. Are They Alive? When Numbers Bleed, Freeze, Starve And Die On A Battlefield: The Dark Poetry Of Data http://kasu.org/post/when-numbers-bleed-freeze-starve-and-die-battlefield-dark-poetry-data <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3T7jMcstxY0</p> Fri, 16 May 2014 16:25:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 44304 at http://kasu.org When Numbers Bleed, Freeze, Starve And Die On A Battlefield: The Dark Poetry Of Data How To Marry The Right Girl: A Mathematical Solution http://kasu.org/post/how-marry-right-girl-mathematical-solution Poor Johannes Kepler. One of the <a href="http://kepler.nasa.gov/Mission/JohannesKepler/">greatest astronomers</a> ever, the man who figured out the laws of planetary motion, a genius, scholar and mathematician — in 1611, he needed a wife. The previous Mrs. Kepler had died of Hungarian spotted fever, so, with kids to raise and a household to manage, he decided to line up some candidates — but it wasn't going very well.<p>Being an orderly man, he decided to interview 11 women. Thu, 15 May 2014 10:49:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 44230 at http://kasu.org How To Marry The Right Girl: A Mathematical Solution Did Homer Simpson Actually Solve Fermat's Last Theorem? Take A Look http://kasu.org/post/did-homer-simpson-actually-solve-fermats-last-theorem-take-look <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReOQ300AcSU</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hx7LkaTnnM</p> Sun, 11 May 2014 09:33:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 44051 at http://kasu.org Did Homer Simpson Actually Solve Fermat's Last Theorem? Take A Look