When you think about the great music of science fiction, a few staples spring to mind — say, the theme from the classic Star Trek series, or John Williams' compositions for the Star Wars movies.
Nathan Johnson, the composer for the new time-travel thriller Looper, wanted to break with tradition. Instead of going for that slick, orchestral sound, he immersed himself in the world of the film to find his source material.
Farms in Chester County, Pa., produce 400 million pounds of mushrooms annually. That's about half of all mushrooms grown in the U.S. They're grown indoors in long, gray cinder-block houses built into the side of a hill.
Southeast Asian workers cut shiitake mushrooms at Phillips Mushroom Farms. The mushroom industry in Chester County, Pa., has relied on several waves of immigrant workers, beginning with Italians in the late 1800s.
At an industrial compost facility that supplies the mushroom industry in Kennett Square, ground-up corn cobs are mixed with chicken manure, hay, cocoa shells and horse manure. Over time, growers have learned that mushrooms grow best with this blend of nutrients.
Every 10 weeks, the beds inside the mushroom rooms are filled with compost mixed with spores, and covered with peat moss. The spores germinate and create a thick web of white threads called mycelia, shown here. As the fungi try to reproduce, they send up their fruit — the mushrooms.
Here's an astonishing fact: Half of America's mushrooms are grown in one tiny corner of southeastern Pennsylvania, near the town of Kennett Square.
But why? It's not as though this place has some special advantage of climate or soil, the kind of thing that led to strawberry fields in Watsonville, Calif., or peach orchards in Georgia. Mushrooms can grow indoors. They could come from anywhere.
Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 1:52 pm
Kentucky may be the site for tonight's debate between the vice presidential candidates, but the monster swing state of Ohio remains the focus of White House dreams for President Obama and Mitt Romney.
Both the incumbent and his challenger have been in and out of the state with increasing frequency; GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan plans a trip to the Buckeye State on Friday, after his tangle with Vice President Joe Biden.
Local record producer and writer Pat Thomas recently compiled a collection of music written by and for the Black Power movement, "Listen, Whitey! The Sounds of Black Power 1965–1975." One of the musicians he discovered in putting the album together is a woman named Elaine Brown. She was the head of the Black Panther party during the mid '70s. Today, she's most well known for her activism for prisoners, but Pat thinks her music from the late '60s and early '70s has a message that still applies today. He recommends listening to "Seize The Time," "The End of Silence" and "Until We're Free."
Illustration of the interior of 55 Cancri e — an extremely hot planet with a surface of mostly graphite surrounding a thick layer of diamond, below which is a layer of silicon-based minerals and a molten iron core at the center.
Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 3:39 pm
Scientists have discovered a world much fancier than our homely, little Earth.
New research that will published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters details a planet that is eight times heavier than Earth and with twice its radius. But instead of being covered in water and granite, it is encrusted in graphite and diamond.
Malala Yousafzai, 15, and her father ignored Taliban threats for years and spoke out in favor of education for girls. Malala, shown here in March 2012, was shot in the head on Tuesday and is in critical condition at a military hospital.
Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 1:00 pm
A 15-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl remains in critical condition after being shot in the head for defying the Taliban and championing the right of girls to go to school. Malala Yousafzai rose to prominence during the recent war in Pakistan's Swat Valley by writing a blog under a pen name. NPR's Philip Reeves reported on that war — and twice met Malala's father. Reeves sent this account of the tough world in which Malala spent her childhood.
Travel guru Rick Steves has made his way into many a knapsack with his essential travel guides, but how did he first begin his travel business and what inspired that career? Ross Reynolds sits down with Rick Steves and goes beyond travel to hear his story.