This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. The people of Seattle are puzzled by a mystery unfolding underground: the world's biggest tunneling machine is stuck about 75 feet under street level where it's digging a nearly two-mile-long highway right under downtown Seattle. As NPR's Martin Kaste reports, engineers say it'll take until January to figure out what is causing the block.
Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 7:03 am
December is supposed to be the time of year filled with family gatherings and holiday good cheer. For medical residents, quite the opposite is true.
There are no school breaks during residency. Being a medical resident is a real job, and a stressful one at that. Residents work long shifts, even with caps that max out at 16 hours for the newbies and up to 28 hours for those beyond the first year.
When you think about a scrumptious meal, airline food does not come to mind.
There are plenty of challenges to tasty airline meals, like the fact that many airlines now charge you for anything more than a tiny bag of chips and a plastic cup of non-alcoholic drink, at least on domestic flights. Plus, you can't cook on an airplane, so anything you're served has probably been chilled, then reheated. And flight delays certainly don't help with the freshness factor.
As the year winds down, we here at NPR are looking at a few key numbers that explain the big trends of 2013.
Today's number: 1.6 million.
That's 1.6 million acres — about the area of the state of Delaware.
That's how much land was removed this year from the federal Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, which pays farmers to keep land covered with native grasses or sometimes trees. Most of that land now will produce crops like corn or wheat.
This morning, astronauts Michael Hopkins and Richard Mastracchio stepped outside the International Space Station. Their mission: to conduct one of three urgent spacewalks to repair a coolant system. Mission Control seemed happy with today's effort.
(SOUNDBITE OF MISSION CONTROL RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: OK. Really nice work, guys. We're about an hour and a half ahead. Let's take some steps beforehand. First, we want to do an ammonia inspection.
Before we come back to Earth, here's a little space history with a holiday touch. Fifty-five years ago this week on December 19, 1958, the first radio broadcast was transmitted from space. An American satellite beamed down the voice of Dwight D. Eisenhower via shortwave.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PRESIDENT DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER: This is the president of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space.
Monday is the last day Americans in most states will be able to enroll in Affordable Care Act health exchanges if they want coverage to start in January. But technical problems have foiled sign-ups from the start, which led an otherwise obscure number to become a big deal in 2013.
There are lots of lists as the year draws to a close: best films, best books, Persons of the Year. This year, NPR is looking at the numbers that tell this year's story. So, our math guy, Keith Devlin, has a nomination for number of the year. He joins us now from Stanford University, where he's a professor of something that's too long for me to state. Keith, thanks very much for being with us.
KEITH DEVLIN: Hi, Scott. Good to be with you again.
SIMON: All right. Drum roll, please: the number of the year is...