Talk of the Nation

Weekdays 12:00 pm

When Americans want to be a part of the national conversation, they turn to Talk of the Nation, NPR's live, midday news-talk program. Host Neal Conan leads a productive exchange of ideas and opinions on the issues that dominate the news landscape.

From breaking news, science, and education to religion and the arts, Talk of the Nation offers listeners the opportunity to join enlightening discussions with decision-makers, authors, academicians, and artists from around the world.

For two hours each Monday through Thursday, Talk of the Nation listeners weigh-in, share their thoughts and ask questions by calling, emailing, messaging through social media.

On Fridays the conversation turns to the topics of science, with Talk of the Nation: Science Friday with Ira Flatow, focusing on news and issues about the world of science and technology.

A long-time NPR journalist, Conan has been a reporter, editor, and anchor for NPR live events coverage. Conan played a major role in anchoring continuous live coverage of developments during the terrorist attacks and aftermath of September 11, 2001. His broadcasts are marked by their clarity, accuracy and eloquence.

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Science
12:04 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

As Dec. 21 Draws Nigh, The Facts About Doomsday

Some doomsayers predict that the world will end on Dec. 21, 2012, citing the end of the pre-Columbian Mayan calendar.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 12:44 pm

On Dec. 21, 2012, some fear that a rogue planet will collide with Earth and destroy the planet, or that the supposed end of the Mayan calendar will lead to the obliteration of the universe.

When people have questions about these scenarios, they often turn to the Internet.

NASA astrobiologist David Morrison has taken it upon himself to enter that online conversation and answer hundreds of questions about the science of existential threats.

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Around the Nation
12:04 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

The Conversations About Infidelity On The Homefront

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 2:04 pm

The sex scandals of Gen. David Petraeus and Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair have triggered public conversations about ethics, national security and leadership. These high-profile cases of infidelity have also prompted private conversations about the challenges of military marriage.

Food
12:25 pm
Fri November 23, 2012

Ig Nobel Prizes Celebrate Somewhat Suspect Science

Originally published on Fri November 23, 2012 12:49 pm

The Ig Nobel Prizes honor scientific research that, in the words of Master of Ceremonies Marc Abrahams, "first makes you laugh, and then makes you think." This year's prizes, awarded in late September, include citations for research into mysteriously green hair, potentially explosive colonoscopies, and the creation of equations that model the back-and-forth swing of a ponytail in motion.

Science
12:18 pm
Fri November 23, 2012

Steven Strogatz: The Joy Of X

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Get out a pencil and paper and your graphic calculator because it's time for a little math review. And we'll warm up with some algebra, move on to imaginary numbers, then the quadratic formula, and we're going to finish up with a bit of vector calculus, how about some probability theory thrown in. No, no, no, I'm just joking. Don't turn off the radio just yet.

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NPR Story
12:07 pm
Fri November 23, 2012

NPR: The Ugly Truth About Food Waste in America

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 6:17 am

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Up next, some food for thought as you chomp your Thanksgiving leftovers. Recycling paper and plastic, as you know, is an effective way to save money and energy. So why not recycle all the uneaten food that goes to waste? And there is an awful lot of it. Forty percent of the food in the U.S. today goes uneaten, which means Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion worth of food each year. But that's not all. Food waste, as it decays in landfills, also produces methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas.

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Author Interviews
1:48 pm
Thu November 22, 2012

The Motive Of The Mapmaker

In A History of the World in Twelve Maps, Jerry Brotton examines the maps of ancient history and the way Google Earth allows people to see the world today.
Penguin Books

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 10:56 am

World maps help us make sense of the world around us, and our place in it.

While mapmakers may portray their world maps as accurate, scientific and neutral, every single one describes the world from a certain worldview and culture. From ancient Babylonia to the Renaissance, cartographers have been driven by politics, religion, emotion and math.

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Arts & Life
1:48 pm
Thu November 22, 2012

Bill Connolly's Funny, But Not Clever Comedy

Comedian Billy Connolly received that Outstanding Contribution to Television and Film Award at the 2012 BAFTA Awards in Scotland.
Tony Lyon

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 11:33 am

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

Scottish comedian and actor Billy Connolly has been performing for over 50 years now. His TV credits include the sitcom "Head of the Class." He co-starred with Judi Dench in the movie "Mrs. Brown." New projects include Dustin Hoffmann's directorial debut, "Quartet," with, among others, Maggie Smith. And he plays a dwarf king in "The Hobbit." But what he does, as he puts it, is standup comedy.

(SOUNDBITE OF STANDUP SHOW)

BILLY CONNOLLY: Algebra was a mystery to me.

Connolly, 1A plus 1B?

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Around the Nation
1:48 pm
Thu November 22, 2012

Listening To Service Members, Veterans

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. For the fifth year now, the oral history project StoryCorps has put special attention on the day after Thanksgiving, the day often called Black Friday, StoryCorps transforms into the National Day of Listening.

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From Our Listeners
1:48 pm
Thu November 22, 2012

Missing: Loved Ones On Thanksgiving

It's a tradition for many of us to gather with family and friends on Thanksgiving. The menu and the festivities are often the same: A look at the big parade in New York City on TV, maybe a game of touch football. But some friends may not be able to make it to dinner: the loved ones serving in the military overseas, a family member who's passed away since this time last year, or maybe someone who has to work today. Host Neal Conan takes calls from listeners who want to share stories about who's not at their Thanksgiving table this year.

Middle East
12:17 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

Anti-Government Coalition Shifts Dynamics In Syria

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

Much more later today and in the days ahead on the ceasefire announced between Israel and Hamas about winners and losers and what happens next. But what effect of the news will be to refocus attention on the civil war in Syria where there have also been some major developments.

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