To the Best of Our Knowledge

Ever Wonder About the Sounds a Building Makes?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sound engineer Ryan Schimmenti put it best, "every space has a sound, every sound tells a story." Using high-end equipment he documents and records the "voices" of buildings. There are a lot of those sounds in this piece. But if you want more . . .  


The Takeaway

High Tech, Low Cost Artificial Limbs Could Be on the Way

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The high cost of prosthetics is prohibitive for many people who need them. But a team of graduate students found a way to build them on the cheap. 

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The Takeaway

Polar Vortex's Breathtaking Chill Freezes Millions | Supreme Court Halts Utah Same-Sex Marriages | Stephen Frears on the Key to Genius Directing

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Polar Vortex's Breathtaking Chill Freezes Millions | Supreme Court Halts Utah Same-Sex Marriages | An 8-Hour Day? Workdays & Weeks Vary Nationwide | The Burglary That Exposed FBI Surveillance | Meeting the Standard: From the Drawing Board to Your Home | Stephen Frears on the Key to Genius Directing

Transportation Nation

No Driving Across SF Bay, as Old Bridge Closes To Make Way for New

Thursday, August 29, 2013


At 8 p.m. last night, the last car drove across the original eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. If everything goes according to schedule, the new, blinding white span will open to the public on Tuesday morning at 5 a.m. Pacific Time. 

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The Takeaway

Introducing Air-Purifying Pavement

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What if a city's concrete roadways doubled as an air freshener? That's the dream of a group of Dutch scientists who have developed a product they describe as "air-purifying pavement." Jos Brouwers, Professor at Eindhoven University of Technology is part of the team of working on this technology. He tells The Takeaway how the ground we walk on could help clean the air we breath.



Flash Event May 30: Krulwich, nanobots, and neurosurgery

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Join us tonight (May 30), at 8pm ET right here on to watch, live chat, and geek out about nanotechnology -- and finally see what Robert Krulwich looks like when he's not on the radio. Find out more here...

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Columbia Students Build Solar Generator

Friday, May 24, 2013

What started as a green idea to fuel a cross-country trip is now serving as a clean energy source in the Rockaways.


The Brian Lehrer Show

Would You Cuddle A Neon-Green Cat?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Emily Anthes, science journalist and author of Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts, looks at biotech animal "alterations," like the cat with a neon green nose.

→ Event: Anthes will be appearing at KGB on 3/26 and at Brooklyn Observatory on 3/29. View the details here

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City Plans More High-Tech Classes For Select Students

Monday, February 25, 2013

In addition to new high schools focused on science, technology, math and engineering (STEM), the city said it is launching a pilot program to offer more STEM classes to students, and train teachers, in 20 middle and high schools across the city.

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Transportation Nation

Making Orlando's Streets Safer for Pedestrians

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pedestrians fare better crossing low-speed streets like this one in Thornton Park, Orlando. But high-speed, multi-lane roads are more of a challenge. (Photo by Matthew Peddie)

For years, Orlando has ranked among the most dangerous metro areas for pedestrians in the nation, with roughly two injuries per day and one fatality a week. Now a coalition of pedestrian advocates, law enforcement, local government and health agencies is trying to change that, with a program called Best Foot Forward. And eight months after the program launched, there are some signs of improvement.

Transportation experts say there are three steps needed to make the roads safer for pedestrians: education, enforcement and engineering. Orlando is trying all three, but it still has a long way to go to change the culture for people on foot.

“It’s pretty abominable,” says Bill Carpenter, a volunteer collecting data for the Best Foot Forward Program. He says pedestrians haven’t had much of a voice in Central Florida until now.

Carpenter is monitoring how drivers behave at crosswalks. A pickup truck approaches the intersection of Rollins street and Camden road in Winter Park. Carpenter steps cautiously into the road stretching out one hand to point down at the crosswalk. The driver doesn’t stop.

Bill Carpenter has been monitoring "voluntary yield rates" for drivers at Orlando crosswalks (photo by Matthew Peddie)

“Motorists reactions run the gamut," says Carpenter. "There’s some that begrudgingly stop, then others that wave back at you and say thanks for waiting there for me and go on.”

This dangerous dance is repeated daily all over the city by other pedestrians.

In East Orlando, a restaurant worker  called Tony makes his way to a bus stop on South Semoran Boulevard, near Curry Ford Road.

“This intersection here, it’s crazy," says Tony. He says drivers aren't courteous. "No. They’d rather run you over.”

Badly injured pedestrians go to the Orlando Regional Medical Center, which is part of the Best Foot Forward Coalition. Last year doctors at the center treated over 400 patients who’d been hit by cars.

But there are signs the education campaign is starting to have an effect, says project manager Brad Kuhn.

“On those roads at 35 miles an hour and less, we’ve been able to take the yield rate from about one in eleven to approaching one in three.”

That means at some of the 18 crosswalks being monitored in Orlando and Orange county, more drivers are yielding now for pedestrians than they were six months ago.

Kuhn’s organization, Bike Walk Central Florida, has reached out to 88,000 households to promote pedestrian safety, and 11 Orange County elementary schools are teaching a pedestrian safety syllabus. But, says Kuhn, high-speed roads are still a problem.

“By the time you see the pedestrian, you’re already past them," he says, "which is unfortunate, because on a 40-mile-an-hour road, your chance of survival if you get hit is 15 per cent.”

Enforcement is used to back up the education campaign. Last year police and sheriff’s officers handed out more than 1,200 tickets and arrested 20 drivers for failing to yield at crosswalks.

Orlando Police sergeant Jerry Goglas says some drivers try to blame the pedestrian. “They say: “did you see the pedestrian jaywalking, why is the pedestrian in the road?” Some of them are not understanding once a pedestrian is in a marked crosswalk the driver has to yield.”

Transportation for America's map showing pedestrian fatalities around Orlando 2000-2009. (Image from the 2011 report 'Dangerous by Design')

Best Foot Forward is trying out low-cost engineering like signs and road markings-- but the coalition is also interested in something called the Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon.

It’s a small box mounted on a pole at a crosswalk. When activated, a bright LED light flashes towards the eyes of approaching drivers, signaling them to stop. In St. Petersburg, on the other side of the state, these beacons have helped cut the pedestrian accident rate in half over the last ten years.

Pedestrian advocate Bill Carpenter thinks these beacons could help in Orlando, but he says changing drivers attitudes is a long term project. “I’d hate to venture a guess, but it’s going to take longer than six or 12 months. It’s going to take a lot.”

The Florida Department of Transportation is also engaged around the state trying to make the roads safer and it’s rolling out a pedestrian awareness campaign focusing on ten counties with high pedestrian crash rates.  In the meantime, Best Foot Forward hopes its early success will eventually translate into fewer pedestrians winding up in hospital.

Listen to an audio version of this story here. And follow Matthew Peddie on Twitter here.

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Behind the Scenes: Master of the Universe

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

SPOILER ALERT: if you haven’t listened to our Speed show yet, go do that right now, before you read any further. Then, take a look at some mind-bending behind-the-scenes images from the physicist in our "Master of the Universe" story.

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The Takeaway

New Planes from Boeing Grounded Amid Safety Concerns

Friday, January 18, 2013

A whole model of planes is being grounded this month for safety reasons. After an incident in Boston and another involving the emergency landing of a plane in Japan, Boeing 787s around the world are now being held on the ground by regulators. Miles O’Brien is a broadcast news journalist specializing in aviation, space and technology.

Comments [8]

NYPR Archives & Preservation

So long, Stag

Monday, November 19, 2012

Longtime New York Public Radio engineer Jim Stagnito, a.k.a. Stag, bid the station farewell last week.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Please Explain: Prosthetics

Friday, September 28, 2012

Alena Grabowski, Assistant Research Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, and research scientists at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Denver, and Mike McLoughlin, Research and Exploratory Development at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory describe the latest prosthetic design and technologies and how they allow amputees to regain mobility.

Comments [8]

Transportation Nation

PICS: Largest Truss Bridge Ever Moved into Place Fully Assembled

Monday, August 27, 2012

A nearly 400-foot-long, 4.3-million-pound railroad truss bridge was rolled into place over Torrence Avenue near 130th Street in Chicago over the weekend. It is believed to be the largest truss bridge ever to be moved into the place after being assembled off site. (CDOT)

We like to keep our eye on bridges here at TN. Especially new bridges and new techniques for building them. That could be anything from new ways to finance megaprojects, the politics behind tolling, or engineering feats like floating a bridge down a river and hoisting it in place.

Building a bridge offsite and transporting it to it's final location saves money when it is possible. Similar construction techniques are credited with completing the Lake Champlain, NY bridge ahead of schedule (see video.) This weekend we got word of a mini-milestone in that trend.

On Saturday, Chicago says the city in partnership with the state and several railways, installed the largest truss bridge ever built off site and moved into place fully assembled. A truss bridge is what most people think of as the classic railroad bridge, it looks like a steel cage over the roadway forming box or triangle shapes on the sides for support.

Here are a few shots courtesy of the Chicago Department of Transportation, and the press release with background on the project below.

Four Self-Propelled Mobile Transporters (SPMTs) relocated the fully assembled 4.3 million pound, 394-foot-long, 67- foot-high truss bridge from its assembly site to its final position on the new bridge piers a few hundred feet away. (CDOT)



Believed to be Largest Truss Bridge Ever Moved into Place after Assembly

A nearly 400-foot-long, 4.3-million-pound railroad truss bridge was rolled into place

A nearly 400-foot-long, 4.3-million-pound railroad truss bridge was rolled into place over Torrence Avenue near 130th Street today, and is believed to be the largest truss bridge ever to be moved into the place after being assembled off site.

The new bridge for the Chicago South Shore and South Bend commuter rail line is a key project in the $101 million reconfiguration and grade separation of the intersection of 130th Street and Torrence Avenue, which part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Building a New Chicago infrastructure program.

It is also a part of the CREATE project – a partnership between U.S. Department of Transportation, the State of Illinois, City of Chicago, Metra, Amtrak, and the nation's freight railroads – to invest billions in critically needed improvements to increase the efficiency of the region's passenger and freight rail infrastructure.

“The moving of this new truss bridge is an incredible feat of construction and engineering,” said Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) Commissioner Gabe Klein. “It also demonstrates the strength of the CREATE partnership between government, the railroads and other stakeholders to bring complicated projects like these to fruition to improve the quality of life for Chicago-area communities.”

The goal of the 130th and Torrence grade separation project is to eliminate the two at-grade crossings of the Norfolk Southern tracks with the two roadways to improve the traffic flow of all modes of transport at this complicated intersection.

The project will include the lowering of both roads to fit under the new bridges to be built for the Norfolk Southern freight tracks. The new truss bridge, put in place today, goes overthe freight tracks. The entire intersection reconstruction project includes: six new bridges (railroad, roadway, and pedestrian/bicyclists bridges); a mixed-use path for pedestrians and bicyclists; retaining walls; drainage system; street lighting; traffic signals; roadway pavement and extensive landscaping.

Today, the project General Contractor, Walsh Construction, used four Self-Propelled Mobile Transporters (SPMTs) to relocate the fully assembled 4.3 million pound, 394-foot-long, 67- foot-high truss bridge from its assembly site to its final position on the new bridge piers a few hundred feet away. It is believed to be the largest truss bridge ever assembled then moved.

A truss bridge is one whose load-bearing superstructure is composed of a truss, which is a structure of connected elements forming triangular units.

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And There Was Much Rejoicing

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


All Things Considered engineer Kevin Bristow returned to work Monday — and he brought his new kidney with him.




Friday, October 08, 2010

One tidy mathematical formula may hold the key to how cities work. We take to the streets to test the numbers, & ask what really makes cities tick.

Comments [77]

The Takeaway

Cleaning Up the Oil Spill: BP's Doomed Dome and Foreseeable Design Flaws

Monday, May 10, 2010

Over the weekend, ice crystals clogged the inside of a 98 ton steel dome that BP hoped would contain the ongoing flood of crude oil spewing from the site of their broken rig. The crystals, called hydrates, which formed inside the dome made the structure too buoyant to settle on to the seabed, where it could have formed a water-tight seal around the site of the oil drainage. As BP plans more attempts to cap the gusher, we listen back to what has been tried so far.


The Takeaway

The Ford Model T was introduced 100 years ago, in 1908

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Mass produced on an assembly line, with a will of its own, it's 100 years old today: The Ford Model T. The car started a global craze and made Ford Motor Co. one of the world's largest companies.


The Takeaway

Real-life invisibility cloak shows the promise of "nanomanufacturing"

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

This week, the media reported on scientists developing materials they say could create a kind of invisibility cloak. The research was funded in part by the National Science Foundation. It’s just one example of “nanomanufacturing,” which the NSF sees as a way to give the United States an edge as industrial manufacturing wanes.