This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Up next, surviving the big one, and I mean a really big one. As any fan of dinosaurs knows, extinction happens. The Earth isn't immune to assaults. You've got your asteroids, your volcanic eruptions, events that cause so much disruption to the environment that eventually life or most of life is wiped out.
Scenes of destroyed homes and businesses were common following the recent Oklahoma tornadoes. David Prevatt, a structural engineer at the University of Florida, says that improving resistance to tornadoes will require better building materials and techniques, plus a strong dose of political will.
When doctors run out of clues on how to treat a cancer patient, they sometimes order a scan of all the patient's genes. But such a test can turn up unexpected results, such as greater risk of another disease. When are doctors obligated to tell the patient what they know? And do patients have the right not to know?
Many people associate France today with the production of great wines. But winemaking isn't native to the French. Patrick McGovern, an archaeologist of fermented beverages, has dated the beginning of viniculture in France to around 500 B.C. and contact with the Etruscans.
The highly anticipated animated films Monsters University, Despicable Me 2 and Turbo hit theaters this summer. From cel technology to full-length, computer-animated, celebrity-studded movies, animation has come a long way.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Later in the program, we'll continue our series of conversations and look ahead with NPR's Deborah Amos, who's been covering the war in Syria. But we begin today with a court order obtained by The Guardian's U.S. team, which authorizes the National Security Agency to collect information on billions of phone calls made by U.S. Verizon customers since late April.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan. The war in and around Syria grows more horrific and more dangerous day by day: tens of thousands dead, many more injured, over a million refugees in neighboring countries and who knows how many millions displaced inside Syria itself.
It's almost hard to remember the early days of what's now grown into a civil war. More than two years ago, NPR's Deborah Amos reported on activists hopeful that Syria would be changed by the Arab spring.
Two writers can take credit or blame for the legions of metal men that marched through the movies - Karel Capek, who coined the word robot in his play "R.U.R." in 1920, and Isaac Asimov, who codified the Three Laws of Robotics and a series of stories collected in "I, Robot," and mostly ignored in the Will Smith movie of the same name.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "I, ROBOT")
WILL SMITH: (as Detective Del Spooner) You know what they say, laws are made to be broken.
Since the 2012 election, Republican strategists and leaders have called for changes in the party's approach to voters. Some argue that the GOP must appeal to younger and more diverse demographics or risk losing congressional seats next November.