When they both worked at Princeton, Howard Stone and Jeff Aristoff used to play basketball at lunchtime. One day, when Dr. Stone was warming up with his jump rope, the two wondered if anyone had mathematically modeled the shape of the rope. The two researchers decided to give it a whirl.
The campus of Virginia Tech in Roanoke, Va. was on lockdown Thursday after a gunman killed a police officer during a traffic stop, and one other person. Campus officials instructed everyone to stay in a secure place indoors and barred visitors while police continued their search for the shooter. Virginia Tech established a number of security and emergency response measures after the 2007 mass shooting that killed 33 people. Mallory Noe-Payne, intern with NPR member station WVTF in Roanoke provides an update.
NPR's Debbie Elliott and Richard Gonzales spent a month on the road across the nation, reporting stories of economic struggle for the NPR series "Hard Times." They heard stories of people and places grappling with economic hardship, and also found a few bright spots along the way.
Delegates from nearly 200 countries gathered for a U.N. climate conference in South Africa have been frustrated by a lack of consensus on how to reduce carbon emissions. Many participants are pointing to major emitters like the U.S. and China for the lack of progress.
As the Euro crisis continues, Germany and France have proposed reforms to give European Union leaders more power to demand fiscal discipline from member states. The crisis has raised difficult questions about national sovereignty for many EU member states.
After seven seasons, TNT's "The Closer" is coming to a close. Brenda Leigh Johnson has led the major crimes department of the Los Angeles Police Department on the hit show since 2005. Played by Kyra Sedgwick, she catches killers, brings them to often tearful confessions, and gets the case closed.
The attack on Pearl Harbor 70 years ago this December set in motion a series of battles in the Pacific between the Japanese and the United States. The turning point in the Pacific came in June of 1942, when the U.S. surprised and defeated the Japanese fleet in the Battle of Midway.
That decisive victory was possible, in large part, because of the work of a little-known naval codebreaker named Joe Rochefort. His work deciphering codes revealed the details of when and how the Japanese planned to attack and handed a tremendous advantage to the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Despite news of terrorist bombings, U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and crackdowns in Syria, two recent books argue the world has never seen so little war and violence. Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature, and Joshua Goldstein, author of Winning the War on War, discuss.
Roughly one-third of Egyptians voted in that country's first round of parliamentary elections, the first since Hosni Mubarak's ouster last spring, and Islamist parties scored big wins. The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, considered Egypt's mainstream Islamic party, announced today it won 40 percent of the votes, while the ultra-conservative Salafists surprised many by winning about a quarter of the vote. Those victories and that of the Salafists in particular leave many liberal Egyptians and foreign observers deeply worried.
Newt Gingrich has risen to the top of the polls at a pivotal moment. With less than one month until the Iowa Caucuses, he has a double-digit lead in the state. Political junkie Ken Rudin and columnist Michael Gerson talk about how the field of GOP candidates is faring in the final stretch.