In a new book, To Forgive Design: Understanding Failure, engineer Henry Petroski chronicles disasters from the sinking of the Titanic to the destruction of space shuttles Challenger and Columbia. Petroski discusses why these accidents are often caused by factors other than a design flaw.
Up next, some improbable humor. If you're a loyal listener, you know my next guest. He's been a SCIENCE FRIDAY regular for, oh, 20 years. Wow. Every year on the Friday after Thanksgiving. You know that. We play the first annual Ig Nobel Awards. They awards given to science that makes you laugh and then makes you think. Marc Abrahams is the co-founder and the emcee of the Ig Nobels. He's also the editor and founder of the Annals of Improbable Research, and he writes a weekly column for The Guardian. Welcome, Marc.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. It's easy to assume that we humans rule the Earth. After all, we can clear-cut forests, we can chop the tops off mountains. We can harvest anything we want from the land or the sea. But before we get too cocky, let's not forget about those other titans of the Earth, the bugs.
Originally published on Fri April 13, 2012 1:17 pm
Days after it was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion, reports have emerged that Instagram now has more than 40 million users in its photo-sharing community. The gain, which was derived from the service's API, represents a spike of 10 million Instagram users added in the past 10 days, according to Venture Beat.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, we will hear the latest entry in our Muses and Metaphor series for National Poetry Month. Those are our tweet-length poems. We'll have another one in just a few minutes.
But first, we turn to election news and a controversy that's keeping the battle for women voters in the spotlight. Polls show women voters strongly favor President Barack Obama over presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Switching gears now, often, stories about politicians in their off hours take on kind of a scandalous turn. Not this one. When Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker went home last night, his neighbor's house was on fire. A woman who had escaped the inferno told him that her daughter was trapped inside and what happened next is something really out of an action movie, with Cory Booker in the starring role.
Here's Newark Fire Director Fateen Ziyad describing the scene to New York station WABC.
A makeshift latrine hangs over the water at the edge of Cite de Dieu, a slum in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Credit John W. Poole / NPR
A man walks along the bank of one of Port-au-Prince's main sewage canals. This area is the de-facto bathroom for most of the residents of Cite de Dieu.
Credit John W. Poole / NPR
A truck discharges raw sewage from Port-au-Prince into a brand-new treatment plant outside the city. It's one of two that will soon handle the entire effluent from the Haitian capital, which has a population of 3 million.
The White House just posted word that President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama filed 2011 tax returns showing an "adjusted gross income of $789,674" and that they paid "$162,074 in total [federal] tax." That works out to about 20.5 percent of the AGI.
About half of the first family's income was from the president's salary. The rest came from royalties generated by his books. According to the White House: