The films of Joel and Ethan Coen pose a challenge: How do we reconcile their wildly disparate tones? Consider O Brother, Where Art Thou?, a burlesque of Homer's Odyssey centering on three stumblebums — but with a soundtrack assembled by T Bone Burnett of heartfelt historical gospel and country music. Ditto The Ladykillers: venal idiot characters, soaring African-American spirituals. The ridiculous and the sublime sit side by side, with no spillover.
Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 10:54 am
IRA FLATOW, HOST:
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Do you know that what the number one reason for people filing bankruptcy in this country is? What's the number one reason? Not a lost job. It's not damage from earthquakes or floods. It's medical bills. My next guest says our high-priced medical treatments are responsible for some 60 percent of personal bankruptcies. And if you think you're safe because you have insurance, he says think again.
Drawing from research presented at this year's Acoustical Society of America conference, psycholinguist Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel untangles tongue twisters to look at speech planning patterns, and professor Amalia Arvaniti discusses the "Valley Girl" dialect.
Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 10:56 am
IRA FLATOW, HOST:
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY, I'm Ira Flatow. For less than $100, you can buy a little gadget, a speedometer, that plugs into your car's cigarette lighter and it will let out a terrific scream when you exceed that speed limit that you preset into it. In fact, there's a 99-cent app for that too for your smartphone that tells you when you've exceeded the speed limit.
That, of course, is the theme of the longest running sitcom in American history. "The Simpsons" kicked off its 25th season this year. And if you've ever seen the show, you know how Homer Simpson is no math genius. He's more interested in the pie of pastry than 3.14. But in the episode "The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace," Homer does something extraordinary. He seems to have found a counter example to the notorious math problem Fermat's Last Theorem. What's going on here?