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The Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court, the Paris Agreement. The Trump administration is sure to bring lots of changes, among them: White House decor. On today’s show we’ll take a historic tour of how first families have put their stamp on the executive mansion, including President Teddy Roosevelt, who created the west wing.

Also today, we'll speak with NASA's planetary defense officer about teaming up with FEMA, the Air Force and other government agencies for a simulation of what could happen if an asteroid crashed into a densely populated region -- and how they'd respond.

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It feels like summer. Time to head to the coast, the lake, or local pool. The urge to jump into water may feel instinctive on a hot day, but swimming is a learned behavior for humans. Today, an historian says that by learning to swim a little, humans have learned to drown a lot.

Plus, Pulitzer-prize winning novelist Richard Russo joins me for the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop. He talks about shedding pretentiousness, learning humility, and why the hapless citizens in the decaying mill town of his youth keep coming up in novels like Nobody's Fool and Empire Falls.

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With the final four now chosen, the frenzy of March Madness is more or less over - and by now, your bracket...may not be looking so good.  But what were the chances you'd get it right anyway? Despite the odds, some folks have managed to take their brackets pretty darn far. Today, we look at three very different strategies for predicting college ball.

And, from waiting for rides at Disney World, to standing for days in hopes of getting the first iPhone, we'll explore at the relatively short history of everybody's least favorite activity: waiting in line.

christopher.woo via Flickr Creative Commons

We spoke with Freakonomics co-author Stephen Dubner about three issues that have been dominating headlines lately. In case you’ve missed them and need to catch up quickly, we’ve compiled the highlights so you can be a champion of serious water-cooler discussions.

The major take-away? Dubner urges you to think like a freak, and to listen to more public radio.

M. McMurray, V. Prescott, T. Quimby, Z. Nugent, S. Thomas, L. Shannon

We’ve all heard it all before:  Lightning never strikes twice in the same place. That was a one in a million shot! It’s a miracle! But is there any truth behind these sayings?

Today on Word of Mouth: improbability…it’s more common than you think.

Plus, Ellen’s star-studded Oscar selfie has been retweeted over three million times, setting a new record for twitter shares. Ellen may have posted it, but Bradley Cooper snapped the photo. We’re going to look into who exactly owns the rights to the now iconic pic.

Listen to the full show and click Read More for individual segments!

Statistics without the struggle: In a new book, Dartmouth professor Charles Wheelan explains how to make sense of the proliferation of data in this digital age, a task he calls “fascinating” and even “fun”! Wheelan also points out the pitfalls, how research can be skewed by biased parties. We’ll study up on the state of statistics.


  • Charles Wheelan - Professor at Dartmouth College, author of the international best-seller Naked Economics and the new Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data

The Hard Science Behind A Hit Screenplay

May 7, 2013
alanwoo via flickr Creative Commons

Nate Silver opened the public’s eyes to the power of predictive statistics… now, having already conquered politics, marketing, and social media, data-crunchers are taking on their next big challenge: Hollywood. Brooks Barnes is a media reporter for the New York Times – he recently wrote about Vinny Bruzzese, a statistician and former professor who’s using big data to slice and dice Hollywood screenplays