Planetary scientist Alan Stern is counting down the days — just 365 of them now. He has spent the past 8 1/2 years waiting for the New Horizons spacecraft to make a close encounter with Pluto. Next year, on July 14, the spacecraft will reach its destination.
"Not only did we choose the date, by the way, we chose the hour and the minute. And we're on track," says Stern, the principal investigator for NASA's Pluto-Kuiper Belt Mission.
In January 2006, the New Horizons spacecraft left Earth on the 3-billion-mile journey to Pluto and beyond.
You're not special. Sorry, not to be rude. I don't mean just you in particular. I mean the whole human species. We used to think using tools and complex problem-solving set us apart, but crows proved us wrong. Songbirds got us on culture. Now a new study adds to the list what seem to be fashion trends. Katherine Cronin of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics co-authored the study. And she joins me now from the Netherlands. Welcome to the program, Katherine.
KATHERINE CRONIN: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
I'm standing on a beach and I see, a few hundred yards out, a mound of water heading right at me. It's not a wave, not yet, but a swollen patch of ocean, like the top of a moving beach ball, what sailors call a "swell." As it gets closer, its bottom hits the rising shore below, forcing the water up, then over, sending it tumbling onto the beach, a tongue of foam coming right up to my toes — and that's when I look down, as the wave melts into the sand and I say,
"Hi, I'm from New York. But what about you? Where are you from?"
For a few weeks this spring, the Colorado River flowed all the way to the sea for the first time in a half a century. And during that window of opportunity, writer Rowan Jacobsen took the paddleboarding trip of a lifetime.
The river starts in the Rocky Mountains, and for more than 1,400 miles, it wends its way south. Along the way it's dammed and diverted dozens of times, to cities and fields all over the American West. Tens of millions of people depend on the river as a water source.