Talk of the Nation

Mon. - Thurs. from 11am to 1pm (not including Science Friday)
Hosted by: Neal Conan

Talk of the Nation® links the headlines with what's on people's minds, providing a springboard for listeners and experts to exchange ideas and pose critical questions about major events in the news and the world around them. Each day, Talk of the Nation combines the award-winning resources of NPR News with the vital participation of listeners. The result is a spirited and productive exchange of knowledge and insight that delves deeply into the news and ideas of the day.

Monday through Thursday, host Neal Conan invites callers to discuss areas of topical interest, including politics and public service, education, religion, music, and healthcare. Talk of the Nation goes behind the headlines with decision-makers, authors, thinkers, artists, and listeners around the world, who become part of the conversation by calling 1-800-989-TALK.

Talk of the Nation won the prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Silver Baton Award in 1994-95 for "The Changing of the Guard: The Republican Revolution," as well as the 1993-94 duPont-Columbia Silver Baton for part of NPR's coverage of the South African elections. The program also won the 1993 Corporation for Public Broadcasting Silver Award.

Below, you will find articles, transcripts, and clips of many of the stories heard on Talk of the Nation.

Visit Talk of the Nation on NPR.org

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NPR Story
10:00 am
Tue December 27, 2011

John Brown: The Man Who 'Sparked' The Civil War

American abolitionist John Brown led the 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry, Va. That takeover and the man behind it are the subjects of historian Tony Horwitz's new book, Midnight Rising.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 29, 2011 9:25 am

On an October night in 1859, 21 men staged a takeover of a national armory in tiny Harpers Ferry, Va. Though unsuccessful, the raid drew the nation's attention to its electrifying leader, a man named John Brown — and helped set the nation on the path to war.

Brown went on to become perhaps one of the most polarizing figures in American history. The devout Calvinist and abolitionist is remembered as a traitor and terrorist by some, and a hero by others.

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NPR Story
11:30 am
Mon December 26, 2011

Finish Your 2011 To-Do List? The Clock's Ticking!

Remember those 2011 new year's resolutions? If you haven't contributed to your child's college savings plan or spent your use-it-or-lose-it flexible savings account funds, there are still a few days left to get it done. Chicago Tribune columnist John McCarron shares tips on taking care of business.

NPR Story
10:00 am
Mon December 26, 2011

How Iraq, Afghanistan Have Changed The Military

U.S. forces have left Iraq and a drawdown in Afghanistan is underway, but both wars have left an indelible impact on the U.S. military. The armed forces have altered strategy and tactics, and countless lives have been changed — including those of the families of service members serving multiple deployments.

Environment
10:00 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Searching For A Ghost Bird

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 10:42 am

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Birding. Birding doesn't seem like a risky pastime, does it? What's the worst that could happen? Sunburn, a little rain, a little cold, lost binoculars. Well, not always. In 2010, Tim Gallagher, editor of Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Living Bird magazine, went in search of a rare woodpecker and was lucky to make it back alive.

Our multimedia editor Flora Lichtman talked to Gallagher about it and has this story.

FLORA LICHTMAN, BYLINE: The imperial woodpecker is two feet tall. That's huge.

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NPR Story
10:00 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Birders Fan Out to Count Feathered Friends

The 112th Audubon Christmas Bird Count is underway. Citizen scientists armed with binoculars are recording data vital to monitoring bird health and conservation. But before you can count a Snowy Owl or a Rufous Hummingbird, you need to identify it. Birder Richard Crossley has some tips.

Space
10:00 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Kepler Telescope Narrows Hunt For Earth's Twin

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 10:33 am

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. If you're scanning the Milky Way for life, where do you look? Well, probably someplace not too different from planet Earth, right? So you want to find a planet about the same size as Earth to increase the chance it has a rocky surface, with oceans of course rather than being a giant ball of gas like Jupiter, and it should be just the right distance from its star, in what they call the Goldilocks Zone: hot enough to have liquid water but not so hot that the surface has completely scorched.

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Television
10:00 am
Fri December 23, 2011

The Science Behind 'Breaking Bad'

Cooking crystal meth is just "basic chemistry" for Walter White, the fictional chemistry teacher and anti-hero of the TV drama "Breaking Bad." Organic chemist Donna Nelson serves as science adviser to the show; she explains how the series' writers work to get the science right.

Health
10:00 am
Fri December 23, 2011

The War On Cancer Turns 40

Forty years ago, President Nixon signed the National Cancer Act, beginning the War on Cancer. Harold Varmus, director of the National Cancer Institute, discusses four decades of scientific progress in preventing, detecting and treating cancer--and the mysteries that still remain.

Architecture
10:00 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Building Bridges From Plastic Shampoo Bottles

Discarded plastic shampoo and juice bottles are finding new life in unlikely places--as bridges, railroad ties and pilings. Jim Kerstein, CTO and founder of Axion International, talks about how his company transforms plastic waste into structures strong enough to support trucks, trains and tanks.

Brain Candy
11:09 am
Thu December 22, 2011

At Year's End, Reflecting On Cycles In Modern Life

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

Today, we mark the winter solstice, in three days, one of the major holidays of the religious calendar, followed by an entirely arbitrary start of the New Year. All of us observe cycles, patterns that regulate our lives from season to season, or Olympiad to Olympiad, or the return of the 17-year cicadas. Some, like the solstice, are dictated by celestial mechanics. Others - well, we've simply invented: spring cleaning, for example, or spring training. What's the cycle you live your life by?

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