Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 7:21 pm
Companies from Sony and Samsung to Netflix and Google's YouTube are putting their money into TVs that pack more pixels. Several models are on display at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.
A view of the Panama Canal last Thursday. The canal is being widened to accommodate larger ships, but the builders and the canal operators are locked in a dispute about who will pay the higher-than-expected costs to finish the project.
Credit Alejandro Bolivar / EPA /Landov
Workers at the construction site of the Panama Canal expansion project on the outskirts of Colon City, Panama, on Tuesday.
For five years, a multibillion-dollar expansion has been underway on the Panama Canal so that ships three times the current size can pass through the vital waterway. The new, wider canal will alter global trade routes and dramatically increase revenue for Panama's government, primarily from toll charges.
The expansion is more than two-thirds done, but now a funding dispute between the builders and the canal operators threatens to bring construction to a halt.
Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 10:25 am
In a society where success is pursued and celebrated above everything else, where media stars, sport champions and the very rich are idolized, failure is seen as an embarrassment, something we must avoid at all costs and, when we can't, must be hidden from everyone else.
Morrie Fisher drinks at Mawson Station, an Australian base in East Antarctica, in 1957. Apparently, these sorts of amusements tend to pop up when you're bored in a barren landscape.
Credit Courtesy of the Australian Antarctic Division
Adelie penguins dot the landscape. These penguins often approached early polar explorers with little trepidation, only to wind up as dinner.
Credit Jason C. Anthony / Courtesy of the artist
Frank Wild — Ernest Shackleton's second-in-command on the <em>Endurance</em> voyage — and M.H. Moyes slay a Weddell seal.
Credit Frank Wild / courtesy of the National Library of Australia
Lunch break is no picnic in Antarctica, during a 56-day storm. Wind-blown snow pelted Will Steger and his 1989-1990 International Trans-Antarctica Expedition, the first to cross the continent — 3,741 miles — by dogsled.
Credit Courtesy of Will Steger
Adm. Richard Byrd at the Advance Base in 1934. The American decided to spend a few Antarctic months alone with his thoughts there. Bad idea: He didn't really know how to cook, author Jason Anthony writes, and his stove and generator gave him carbon monoxide poisoning.
Credit Courtesy of the Byrd Polar Research Center Archival Program
Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 12:24 pm
If the icy blast of polar air that's descended upon much of the U.S. over the last couple of days has you reaching for the cookie jar for comfort — and ready to give up on those New Year's resolutions — then seriously? It's time to toughen up. Just think: At least you're not in the Antarctic.
Nurse Carina Araujo gives care to a child in the neonatal intensive care unit at Maternidade Doutor Alfredo da Costa Hospital in Lisbon, Portugal, on June 6. Portugal's birthrate has dropped 14 percent since the economic crisis hit.
Credit The Washington Post / The Washington Post/Getty Images
An elderly woman sits near the Tejo River in Lisbon on Oct. 17, 2011. Portugal's population is aging rapidly, due to a drop in births coupled with growth in emigration.
Credit Patricia De Melo Moreira / AFP/Getty Images
The government is closing schools and maternity hospitals, and Maternidade Doutor Alfredo da Costa Hospital was slated to close last summer. But MAC staff went to court to fight for their jobs and won a reprieve, so the facility remains open — though two whole wings sit unused.
In Lisbon, the waiting area of Portugal's biggest maternity hospital is empty. You can hear the hum of soda machines across the hall. There's just one expectant father, pacing the room.
Mario Carvalho, 40, has a toddler son and now awaits the birth of his baby girl.
"Today, I hope!" he says with a nervous smile.
The birth of a new baby is a joyous occasion. But in Portugal, it's an increasingly rare one. Since the economic crisis hit, the country's birthrate has dropped 14 percent, to less than 1.3 babies per woman — one of the lowest in the world.
This famous bet — between a biologist and an economist — was over population growth. It started three decades ago, but it helped set the tone for environmental debates that are still happening today.
The biologist at the heart of this bet was Paul Ehrlich at Stanford. He wrote a best-selling book in 1968 called The Population Bomb. It was so popular he appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 8:52 am
At NPR, we constantly strive to be better: as an organization, as storytellers, as individual human beings. It's a year-round gig, yet there's something especially powerful about hanging up a new calendar. It gets us reflecting on the past year – and thinking intentionally about the year ahead.
Enter three dreaded words: New Year's Resolutions.
Beyonce hijacked the pop culture (and feminism) conversations for weeks. Pope Francis went about reorienting his billion-member church to the wider world, via surprise phone calls and selfies. And Miley Cyrus rankled, if only because she made your aunts talk about twerking.
Credit Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, Gregorio Borgia/AP, Frank Micelotta/Invision for Parkwood Entertainment/AP
Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 12:41 pm
Friend of the blog Rembert Browne and the folks at Grantland put together their annual year-end, winner-take-all tournament bracket to determine just who won pop culture in 2013. Yeah, it's a jokey project, but Grantland is better than just about anyone at considering our popular culture without moralizing didacticism or snarky dilettantism.
Rembert came up with a diverse field full of 32 entities that we had to reckon with this year, including: