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Deep Underwater and Deep in Space

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Monday, January 10, 2011

We look into BP’s long history of disasters and why the company has been plagued by problems. Then Mike Brown, who tells us why he demoted Pluto from a planet to just another big rock in space! Plus, Tom Rachman talks about his debut novel The Imperfectionists, about the private lives of reporters and editors working for an English language newspaper in Rome. Also, we’ll discuss the things that are unique to the American economy which will help us overcome the challenges posed by an ascendant India and China.

In Too Deep

Journalist Stanley Reed, who has covered BP for over a decade, and investigative reporter Alison Fitzgerald discuss disasters at the oil company BP—from last year's blowout in the Gulf of Mexico to previous oil spills and explosions—and look at what the future might hold for the oil company. Their book In Too Deep: BP and the Drilling Race That Took it Down is an account of the company and the problems that have plagued it.

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Pluto Was a Planet

Mike Brown, Professor of Planetary Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology, talks about the firestorm of controversy ignited when the planet Pluto was demoted to a "dwarf" planet. How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming is an account of the most tumultuous year in modern astronomy-which he inadvertently caused--and explains important scientific concepts and inspires us to think about our place in the cosmos.

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Tom Rachman on The Imperfectionists

Tom Rachman discusses his debut novel, The Imperfectionists. It follows the topsy-turvy private lives of the reporters and editors of an English-language newspaper in Rome.

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American Innovation

Adam Segal, the Ira A. Lipman Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that the idea that China and India are crushing the United States in business, education, and technology doesn't account for the US's role as the leader of innovation. He outlines the reasons the US should focus on innovation in Advantage: How American Innovation Can Overcome the Asian Challenge.

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Web Extras: Remembering Pluto's Demise

Today, Leonard talked to Professor Mike Brown about his book, How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming. In the book, Professor Brown recounts how his discovery of a 10th "dwarf" planet in the solar system inadvertently led to uproar in the astronomical community—and the eventual demotion of Pluto as a full-fledged planet. The conversation reminded us of a series of angry letters from Pluto defenders published in Neil deGrasse Tyson’s book, The Pluto Files. (Mr. Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Natural History Museum, appeared on our show to discuss his book in December 2009.) These letters came from an unlikely source: third-graders.  One letter writer accused him of being a “Pluto-hater”; another offered a carefully drawn picture of Pluto, just in case the director had had a hard time identifying it. Below, we’ve put scans of our favorites, courtesy of NOVA’s website. Let us know your favorite letter in the comments below!

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