This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Flora Lichtman. You've likely heard of the legendary explorers Lewis and Clark, but maybe not of the U.S. Army explorer Stephen Harriman Long, an engineer who led a scientific expedition through the Great Plains 15 years after Lewis and Clark.
His expedition traveled through Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. And what did his crew make of "America's Breadbasket"? A place wholly unfit for cultivation or agriculture, they said. On a map, the explorers labeled the Great Plains as the Great American Desert.
The Federal Trade Commission is in the early stages of opening an antitrust probe into how Google runs its online display advertising business, according to a report by Bloomberg News, citing sources who want to remain anonymous because the FTC has not announced the probe.
Populations of frogs, salamanders and other amphibians are declining at an average rate of 3.7 percent each year, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study released this week. Researchers say the study is the first to calculate how quickly amphibians are disappearing in the United States.
"If the rate observed is representative and remains unchanged, these species would disappear from half of the habitats they currently occupy in about 20 years," according to the USGS.
Saying that "those who commit sexual assaults are not only committing a crime, they threaten the trust and discipline that make our military strong," President Obama on Friday urged Naval Academy graduates to help bring an end to a disturbing series of such offenses.
"They've got no place in the greatest military on earth," Obama said during the commencement address he delivered at the academy's Annapolis, Md., campus.
Lately I've been re-watching vintage Truffaut movies, and I've been struck by the resurgent influence on American independent films of the French New Wave of the late '50s and '60s.
The Truffaut borrowings are fairly explicit in Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha, while Richard Linklater's Before Midnight takes its cues from Eric Rohmer's gentle but expansive talkfests. That's not a criticism: With mainstream movies seeming ever more machine-tooled nowadays, the impulse to reach back to an age of free-form filmmaking feels especially liberating.
Throughout Kobo Town's new album Jumbie in the Jukebox, frontman Drew Gonsalves declares his love for the past even as his feet are firmly planted in the present. The music of the Toronto band can drift between classic Caribbean pop styles and even verge on hip-hop, but the singer's perspective remains sharply focused, wry and witty. The song "Postcard Poverty," for example, ribs tourists for whom tropical slums become an exotic backdrop to fun-in-the-sun adventures.
The mythology surrounding The Doors has centered largely on its lead singer, Jim Morrison, who died under mysterious circumstances in 1971. Morrison is still considered one of rock music's tortured poets and sex gods, but instrumentally, The Doors' distinctive sound was based on Ray Manzarek's keyboard playing. His are the riffs made famous in such songs such as "Riders on the Storm," "Break on Through" and "People Are Strange."
California just unveiled a wide array of choices for the 5.3 million people expected to qualify to buy coverage through its online marketplace established by the federal health overhaul.
It's the first disclosure of prices in the nation's most populous state for individual health insurance that complies with the Affordable Care Act, and the menu of affordable options surprised some consumer advocates and analysts who had been expecting premiums to be much higher.