Cooking crystal meth is just "basic chemistry" for Walter White, the fictional chemistry teacher and anti-hero of the TV drama "Breaking Bad." Organic chemist Donna Nelson serves as science adviser to the show; she explains how the series' writers work to get the science right.
The 112th Audubon Christmas Bird Count is underway. Citizen scientists armed with binoculars are recording data vital to monitoring bird health and conservation. But before you can count a Snowy Owl or a Rufous Hummingbird, you need to identify it. Birder Richard Crossley has some tips.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. If you're scanning the Milky Way for life, where do you look? Well, probably someplace not too different from planet Earth, right? So you want to find a planet about the same size as Earth to increase the chance it has a rocky surface, with oceans of course rather than being a giant ball of gas like Jupiter, and it should be just the right distance from its star, in what they call the Goldilocks Zone: hot enough to have liquid water but not so hot that the surface has completely scorched.
After receiving an earful from Democrats and Senate Republicans, House GOP members agreed to a deal to extend unemployment benefits and a payroll tax holiday. The Republican race is also heating up in Iowa and New Hampshire. Guest host Allison Keyes speaks with former GOP National Committee chairman Michael Steele, and Joy-Ann Reid of TheGrio.com.
The guys weigh in on President Obama's recent increase in popularity, and they look at the NBA match-ups that will kick-off the season on Christmas Day. Guest host Allison Keyes is joined by author Jimi Izrael, GOP strategist Ron Christie, The Boston Globe film critic, Wesley Morris, and Dave Zirin, sports editor at The Nation.
Jermaine Jackson performed alongside his brother, Michael, in the legendary Motown group the Jackson 5. In his book, You Are Not Alone: Michael, he looks at his struggle to come to terms with his brother's death. As part of Tell Me More's series, In Your Ear, Jackson talks about the songs that continue to inspire him.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
And I'm Linda Wertheimer.
A bitter fight in Congress is come to an end just in time for Christmas. The House and the Senate this morning, approved an extension of payroll tax cuts for every worker and benefits for the long-term unemployed. This required a major reversal for House Republicans who, earlier this week, voted to reject a nearly identical compromise.
As Eater reported this week, some politicians believe this country is awash in food waste. But this isn't the stuff in the garbage — it's the way we pour money into building restaurants, promoting American food products abroad, and encouraging the purchase of local foods.
When the histories of the current 112th Congress are finally written, maybe it all will become clear.
But for right now, there seem to be many more questions than answers.
For instance, why did House Republicans ever think it was a good idea to stake out a position on the payroll-tax issue that would leave them holding the bag for a new year's tax increase for 160 million workers? That has now been averted with Congress' passage Friday morning of a two-month extension of the current payroll-tax holiday.