In a few weeks, NASA's Curiosity rover may use its powerful drill for the first time on Mars, and that has been a cause of a concern - not because the drill may be malfunctioning, but because the drill bit might be contaminated with germs from Earth.
Last Monday, an amateur astronomer in Wisconsin, Dan Peterson, was gazing through his telescope when he caught sight of a flash of white light in Jupiter's gassy atmosphere. Lucky for him, someone else also had a scope trained on Jupiter that night. George Hall, an amateur astronomer in Dallas caught that flash on video, hard evidence that an explosion had indeed happened on the giant planet.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY, I'm Ira Flatow. How much of the world's energy needs could be met by wind power alone? Energy analysts are always quick to point out that the wind doesn't blow all the time, but it turns out that if you look worldwide, and you look up at the sky and not just at ground level, there's a lot of wind available, and that wind carries a lot of energy.
What happens at the Northeast Mycological Federation Foray? "Mushrooms only," according to attendee Gary Lincoff, an instructor at the New York Botanical Garden and author of The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. Science Friday stopped by the conference for mushroom talk, mushroom crafts, mushroom eats and a mushroom hunt.
Chico's story mimics the stories of many Cuban musicians who left Havana and arrived in New York City in the 1940s — a time when musicians like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie were starting to emerge.
Credit Luma Films
Javier Mariscal (left) and Fernando Trueba directed Chico & Rita along with Tono Errando.
This interview was originally broadcast on April 12, 2012. Fernando Trueba's Chico & Rita is now out on DVD.
The animated film Chico and Rita is set in 1940s Havana, at a time when Cuban musicians were starting to leave the country and join the jazz scene in New York. It was also a time when musical styles were fusing — and changing the Afro-Cuban jazz scene entirely.
Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master is both feverish and glacial. The vibe is chilly, but the central character is an unholy mess — and his rage saturates every frame. He's a World War II South Pacific vet named Freddie Quell, played by Joaquin Phoenix to the hilt — the hilt above the hilt. We meet him at war's end on a tropical beach where he and other soldiers seek sexual relief atop the figure of a woman made out of sand.
Michael Shannon plays federal agent Nelson Van Alden on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire. "I think inside of Van Alden is a child â that arrested child â that never really got to develop its own identity," he says.
Credit Sony Pictures Classics
Jeff Nichols' haunting Take Shelter centers on an Ohio man (Michael Shannon, with Tova Stewart) plagued with nightmares about a coming apocalypse.
This interview was originally broadcast on Oct. 24, 2011. The third season of Boardwalk Empire starts Sunday.
HBO's Boardwalk Empire, set in Atlantic City in the 1920s, is about organized crime in the era of Prohibition. The show stars Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson, an Atlantic City politician who sees the coming of Prohibition as an opportunity to make even more money from illegal activities and kickbacks.