Dan McKay / flickr creative commons

When I hear the word "diorama," the first thing I think of is Mr. Mack’s fifth grade class and painting hills and grass and clouds and a fence into a shoebox and making little cardboard cut outs of Lassie and the boy she loved. God, I hated that stuff.

The second thing I think of is a place like the Peabody Museum in New Haven and their incredibly, obsessively, over-the-toply detailed dioramas of the plant and wildlife of Connecticut.

©Signed, Sealed & Undelivered Team, 2015. Courtesy of the Museum voor Communicatie, The Hague, The Netherlands

Deadbeat husbands, horrible bosses, and unplanned pregnancies are just a few of the topics written about in a recently-rediscovered chest found in the Netherlands containing hundreds of late-17th century letters.

A researcher at Yale is examining this "postal treasure trove," which is packed with all sorts of historical artifacts. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

 A group of doctors, scientists, and engineers announced an ambitious new medical goal this week in Hartford: they'll attempt to re-generate a human knee and a human limb. 

Peter D / Creative Commons

It's not uncommon to see someone wearing a prosthesis, especially after wars in Iraq and Afghanistan sent many veterans home minus a limb. While losing a limb is a life-changing event, a good prosthetist can "carve" a prosthesis with just the right fit. It's a long process that can take years to perfect. 

Limbs today vary from simple body-powered prostheses moved by cables to a "fully robotic arm that has 26 joints, can curl 45 pounds and is controlled by the wearer's mind." As the stigma of a prosthesis lessens, amputees are seeking enhancement over replacement, opting for limbs that transcend what's biologically possible, even if lacking the aesthetic of a natural limb.

Astronomers have spotted what they believe to be the most distant object ever seen in our solar system.

The dwarf planet, known for now simply as V774104, is more than 100 times farther from the sun than we are. Astronomers aren't sure what it's doing out there, but they're hoping follow-up studies of its orbit will teach them more.

Willle Stark / Flickr

Coincidences happen to everyone -- whether it's hearing a song you've been thinking about all day on the radio or running into an old acquaintance whose name recently came up in conversation. For events so seemingly unlikely, coincidences certainly have a way of happening quite often. And now, after much study, psychologists and mathematicians think they know why.

Neanderthals have long been recognized as humans’ closest relatives. They were highly intelligent, skilled hunters, with a rugged build, and a knack for toolmaking.

Michael S. Helfenbein

Quantum information science now has a home in New Haven, Connecticut. This hour, we preview the opening of the Yale Quantum Institute with its director, Robert Schoelkopf. 

Don't Let The Bed Bugs Bite!

Oct 22, 2015
Truly Nolen / Creative Commons

Humans are used to being the predator, not the prey. But when it comes to our relationship with bed bugs - well, these little critters have been making a meal of us for thousands of years.

Rhode Island Researchers Get $2M For Tick Study

Oct 20, 2015

A tick researcher at the University of Rhode Island will use $2 million in federal grant funding to study tick repellent clothing. Professor Tom Mather plans to test garments that have been treated with a chemical called permethrin. If it’s effective, Mather said it could have serious public health benefits.

“Ticks up here transmit multiple diseases,” said Mather. “Lyme disease is of course what everyone hears about, but just as dangerous probably more dangerous are some of the infections that black legged ticks in our area carry.”

Few images can put life's trivialities into perspective quite like the sight of our planet in the interminable blackness of space.

And at the very least, it's a cool view.

On Monday, NASA announced that this view will be available every day on a new website dedicated to publishing images from a satellite camera 1 million miles away from Earth.

Is Summer Foliage in Connecticut’s Future?

Oct 19, 2015
Emily Prince / Creative Commons

Changing leaf colors in New England can be beautiful to behold at this time of year. But since it’s an annual biological event, the weather can have a big influence over when it happens, and just how colorful it can be.

Bats in New Hampshire have been struggling with White Nose Syndrome for the past few years. So we sat down with Wildlife Biologist Emily Preston from NH Fish and Game and Endangered Species Biologist Susi von Oettengen from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to find out how they’ve been faring recently. 

Carter Roberts / NASA

A star in the direction of the constellations Cygnus and Lyra has some astronomers scratching their heads. It's pretty run-of-the mill by stellar standards, but what appears to be passing in front of the star is a bit of a mystery.

Mars is cold and dry, but billions of years ago, it was cold and wet. That's according to new evidence from NASA's Curiosity rover, which is currently exploring a large crater on Mars.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A new work premieres in Hartford this weekend that has a fresh and inspiring take on traditional opera. The performance even takes on a science fiction feel. 

It’s October, and it’s supposed to be foliage season. But the splendor of the foliage in Northern New England isn’t what it used to be. Climate change, local pollution, invasive species, disease and development have all conspired to change the multicolored landscape to make it less so. NHPR's Peter Biello spoke with David Brooks, a reporter for The Concord Monitor and writer at

woodleywonderworks/flickr creative commons

Dr. Mel Pohl, a medical specialist who works with chronic pain sufferers, says pain is REAL. That's his key point, and that there are ways to reclaim your life by avoiding addiction to opioids that often INCREASE pain without patients being aware of it. 

Patrick Lynch/Yale University

Earth is home to thousands of different species of birds with an amazing array of behaviors, body types, and colors. For biologists studying evolution, that diversity has presented a fundamental question: How did so many different types of birds evolve? And how do they relate? 

Wikimedia Commons

As NASA contemplates more voyages exploring our inner solar system, it’s tapping the talents of some scientists here in Connecticut. One scientist hopes to send a probe to Venus.

Updated at 10:10 a.m. ET

Their work details how cells repair damaged DNA and preserve genes. And now three scientists — Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar — have won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Their work promises years of better treatment and better drugs.

The three researchers carried out their work separately, unearthing different mechanisms cells use to fix problems in a range of cells.

Two scientists from Canada and Japan have won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics 2015 for opening "a new realm in particle physics," the Nobel Prize committee says. Working far apart, both Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald showed how neutrinos shift identities like chameleons in space.

Wesleyan University / Canada Gairdner Global Health Award

One of the three recipients of the Nobel Prize in Medicine refined his award-winning discovery while studying at Wesleyan University in Middletown. Satoshi Omura won the prize for his work unearthing a compound later developed into the drug Ivermectin. creative commons

Repair and boost the bacteria in the gut with the right food, prebiotics and probiotics, and you'll feel better and lose weight. That's the theory of Dr. Raphael Kellman of New York, author of The Microbiome Diet.

The medicines they helped develop are credited with improving the lives of millions. And now three researchers working in the U.S., Japan and China have won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Among the winners: William C. Campbell of Drew University in Madison, N.J., for his work on the roundworm parasite.

University of Liverpool Faculty of Health & Life Sciences / flickr creative commons

Yale professor Paul Anastas says it isn't enough to know that environmental chemicals are making us fat and sick. Anastas directs a department that is working on redesigning chemicals in our food and many products we rely on so that they do not threaten our health.

Journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates, puppetry artist Basil Twist and neuroscientist Beth Stevens work in wholly unrelated fields, but they do have at least one thing in common.

Along with 21 others, they are winners of the 2015 "genius" grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Patrick McGarvey/flickr creative commons

Think about what it's like to ride that super-fast, double-looped, mountain-high roller coaster. Hyper-focused, you study the rickety bones of the structure while waiting your turn. You hear the clattering of the cars as they climb to the highest peak, and then watch as they plunge toward the ground with their loads of screaming passengers. Eventually the cars glide back to the starting position and it’s your turn. 

Scientists have caught Mars crying salty tears.

Photos from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show dark streaks flowing down Martian slopes. The streaks appear in sunny spots or when the weather is warm, and they fade when the temperature drops.

Maybe you've become inured to all the superlatives that get attached to sky-watching events. But the one on Sunday really is worth a look — it's the first total eclipse that's also a supermoon and a blood moon in more than three decades.