Each week, WAMU 88.5's Metro Connection reaches across D.C., Maryland and Virginia to gather the sounds and stories that capture the current events, culture and personalities driving the Washington region.
You can't see them with the naked eye, but teeny-tiny particles exist between stars. This interstellar dust is a particular nuisance to astrophysicists, whose observations and measurements can be distorted by these "cosmic grains." An American University professor is one of 200 people in the world studying the topic; Rebecca Sheir visits U.J. Sofia to learn why, though the particles are small, the issue is pretty darn big.
[Music: "Sky Diver" by Owl City from Maybe I'm Dreaming]
Light pollution is what happens when there's too much artificial light spilling in to the natural world. A recent study suggests light pollution -- in a light-drenched city like Washington, D.C., -- could be worse for us than previously thought. Emily Friedman shines a light on why we're struggling with the issue, and what we can do to remedy the situation.
[Music: "New Star in the Sky (Chanson Pour Solal)" by Air from Moon Safari]
The National Transportation Safety Board investigates why plane crashes happen, so it can prevent them from happening again. NTSB investigators are on call for weeks at a time, ready to head to a crash site to perform intricate mechanical autopsies. David Schultz meets some NTSB investigators in Northern Virginia, to find out what makes them tick.
[Music: "A to B" by The Futureheads from The Futureheads / "In the Air Tonight" by Takka Takka from Guilt By Association, Vol. 2]
You probably won't notice from the sidewalks below, but a number of D.C.'s rooftops are home to honeybee colonies. Some urban beekeepers do it for the honey, some to help the environmental systems bees support and some simply fall in love with bees. But zoning boards have yet to legalize beekeeping in D.C., so Andrea Wenzel visits an undisclosed rooftop in D.C. to get the lowdown.
This story was excerpted from WAMU's new global affairs series, "...
For the 18th year, the Smithsonian Gardens and the United States Botanic Garden are presenting their annual orchid exhibition, from Jan. 29 through April 24. Rebecca Sheir walks through the exhibit with two self-professed "orchid nerds": Washington Gardener Magazine's Kathy Jentz and the Smithsonian's Tom Mirenda. She learns about epiphytic orchids, which can hang in the air, so to speak, and still thrive.
When Michelle Rhee came on board as Chancellor of D.C.'s Public Schools, there was the question of whether she would succeed. Richard Whitmire's new book, The Bee Eater, profiles Rhee's time in the District. He speaks with Kavitha Cardoza about the book... and how Rhee's adventures as a teacher in Baltimore inspired the intriguing title.
Washington D.C. native and international opera star, Marquita Lister, has performed in the world's great opera houses and has sung "Bess" (in "Porgy and Bess") more than 500 times. In 2006, she became gravely ill, and her meteoric rise was interrupted. But she's worked hard to make a remarkable recovery and now is poised for her come-back. Rebecca Sheir speaks with Lister as she prepares for an upcoming recital benefit for her favorite cause: the Negro Spiritual Scholarship Foundation.
We head low down and down low, exploring stuff beneath the ground -- from tunnels in D.C. to archeological digs in Maryland -- and stuff that's top-secret, from posh Prohibition speakeasies to D.C.'s spies and counter-spies.
Washington, D.C., has a rich history of espionage and intrigue, going back to George Washington. Rebecca Sheir visits the International Spy Museum and talks with founding Executive Director Peter Earnest -- a former CIA agent -- who says D.C. has more spies than any other city in the world.
[Music: "Theme from Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (TV Miniseries)" by Geoffrey Burgon]
Fort Meade is the epicenter of U.S. intelligence operations, and though it's right in our backyard, it's off most people's radars. The installation employs about 40,000 people from the D.C. area, and every week that number grows. Emily Friedman takes us behind the gates to find out what's really going on over there.
[Music: "Don't Talk Like" by Sleater-Kinney from The Hot Rock / "All of My Trains" by Robert Francis from One by One]
At L'Hermitage in Frederick, Md., archeologists are uncovering slave cabins and artifacts, including some owned by the Vincendieres family. The family had 90 slaves -- roughly 10 times the number you'd expect for that time -- and archeologists are making some interesting discoveries as they piece together the past.
[Music: "Dry Your Tears, Afrika" by John Williams from Amistad]
Head to the furnace room of the historic Orchard Street Church in Baltimore, Md., and you'll find an escape tunnel fugitive slaves once used to escape to the north. Rob Sachs visits the site with Thomas Saunders, founder of Renaissance Tours, to learn about the church and the wider history of the Underground Railroad in Baltimore.
[Music: "Railroad Man" by The Eels from Blinking Lights and Other Revelations]
For all D.C.'s aboveground hustle and bustle, much of the city's business is conducted underground. Rebecca Sheir and historian Paul Dickson visit the tunnels beneath the Library of Congress and chat about the role of tunnels in D.C.'s present and past -- from the LOC tunnels, to the network of tunnels/subways beneath the Capitol Building.
[Music: "Under My Sensi" by Thievery Corporation from The Outernational Sound]
Telemundo announced that its telenovelaEl Señor de los Cielos (Lord of the Skies) will be back for an unheard of second season. This is a radical departure from traditional telenovelas, which have a clear beginning and a definitive ending.
In a new poll, parents complain that their children are not getting nearly enough time for a basic school ritual: eating lunch. And that's worrying parents and administrators, given that about one-third of American kids are overweight or obese.
The Washington Post reports that the agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world. One official told the newspaper the NSA is getting vast volumes of location data by tapping into the cables that connect mobile networks globally.
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