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From the thirteenth floor of a glass tower at the Oregon Health & Science University, you get a panoramic view of downtown Portland and the majestic mountains in the distance. But it's what's happening inside the building that's brought me here.

"Should we go do this thing?" lab manager Amy Koski asks.

Dana Moos / Creative Commons

America’s national parks are experiencing record crowds — and some nature enthusiasts worry about what that means for the protected land. Is the sheer amount of people taking away the rustic experience these parks offer? 

Alice Collins Plebuch

Unearthing family history -- one saliva sample at a time.

This hour: how low-cost DNA testing helped spawn an industry and, with it, a new wave of genealogical sleuthing.

Ancestry.com, 23andMe, Family Tree DNA -- how far are you willing to go and how much are you willing to spend to better understand your roots? 

David DesRoches / WNPR

It took about 20 minutes and two helium tanks to fill up the huge latex balloon. A rope dangling from the bottom held onto an assortment of gadgets, including a video camera, parachute, and a razor attached to motor that was programmed to cut the rope at just the right altitude.

An Ode To Ink

Aug 9, 2017
Zach Reeder / Flickr

From ancient scrolls to modern toner cartridges, ink (in one form or another) has been around for millennia. And while we may take it for granted now, it was for much of that time a precious and coveted substance.

To see this month's total solar eclipse, the first one to be visible from the contiguous United States in nearly 40 years, all Donald Liebenberg will have to do is open his front door and step outside.

"It's a really special treat to be able to have one in my driveway," says Liebenberg, who has trekked to Turkey, Zambia, China and Pukapuka, a remote island in the Pacific, to see past eclipses.

NASA / Creative Commons

Two hundred children and parents gathered in a packed room at Wallingford Public Library earlier this summer waiting for the chance to speak by video chat with Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer, two NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

Femunity / flickr creative commons

As the men of Apollo 11 returned home to ticker tape parades, the women who made their journey possible worked quietly behind the scenes. Since its founding in 1958, NASA has been heavily reliant on the skills of such women, many of whom have gone unrecognized for their bravery and hard work.

At MIT, bright young engineers are still asked to tackle devilish math problems on their way to a degree.

But officials at Boston Public Schools (BPS) are hoping they can turn their attention to the world outside. Like the problem the district faces each morning: how to get thousands of students to school using more than 600 buses without burning through too much money or learning time.

When Ralph Chou was about 12 years old, he took all the right precautions to watch his first solar eclipse.

"I did other stupid things, but when it came to looking at that eclipse, I was being very careful," says Chou, a professor emeritus of optometry and vision science at the University of Waterloo, who's a leading authority on eye damage from eclipse viewing.

Many more boys are diagnosed with autism every year than girls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the disorder is 4.5 times more common among boys than girls. Boys appear to be more vulnerable to the disorder, but there is some evidence that the gender gap may not be as wide as it appears.

Warner Bros.

It's quite a trick Christopher Nolan has played on us over the course of a career that includes movies like Memento and Inception. His latest, Dunkirk, weaves together three storylines: One takes place on land over a week. One takes place on the sea over a day. And one takes place in the air over an hour. I walked out of the theater thinking, "That was a pretty straightforward narrative for a Christopher Nolan movie." The Nose has a lot to say about this new epic.

Frédérique Voisin-Demery / Creative Commons

Many of us take it for granted that much of our food comes from seeds. But did you know 94% of our seed varieties have disappeared in the last century?

This hour, we talk with the co-director of the documentary SEED: The Untold Story. We find out how we lost a wealth of seed diversity and we learn about seed savers who are working to bring that diversity back.

Teaching An Old Fox New Tricks

Jul 26, 2017
C Watts / flickr creative commons

In 1959, Soviet geneticist Dmitri Belyaev started an ambitious experiment to study the origins of domestication -- he would attempt to breed domesticated wild foxes by selecting on their behavior alone, a process he imagined our ancestors carried out with dogs thousands of years before.

This hour, we look at the history and progress of this more-than-50-year experiment: What can it tell us about our animal companions -- and ourselves?

Stockbyte / Thinkstock

Say you break your leg. Fortunately you have insurance, so you head to an emergency room that’s in your insurance network -- and you think, at least when it comes to your medical bill, you’re all good.

But a new study out of Yale University finds you may not be.

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