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Word of Mouth

6.09.16: American Dueling Grounds, Legos Are More Violent, & When Will SpaceX Get to Mars?

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Eric Constantineau via Flickr CC
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Dueling was once a common part of the American experience. Today, we’ll learn more about this history and some popular dueling spots that that public can still visit today.

Then, Legos encourage kids and adults alike to build and create new worlds and aside from the rage you might feel when you step on one of those little bricks barefoot, Legos remain a relatively peaceful toy. Despite that reputation, Legos have gotten more violent over the years - and there’s decades of evidence to prove it. 

Listen to the full show. 

America's Dueling History

We at Word of Mouth, like so many people out there, have recently become big fans of the hip-hop musical Hamilton, currently sold out on Broadway until 2017. Even if you haven't been listening to the soundtrack on repeat, you may remember a few facts about Alexander Hamilton from your high school history class. He was a founding father, the very first Secretary to the Treasury, and he died dramatically - after being shot in a duel. That was back in 1804 - when dueling was common part of the American experience.

Jennifer Billock is a journalist, author, and freelance editor. She wrote about America's dueling history and some popular dueling spots from back in the day for Smithsonian.

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America's Dueling History

Are Legos Becoming More Violent?

In the early days of Legos, there were just four colors and they were called "automatic binding bricks". Today, the company produces approximately 19 billion Lego pieces annually in a huge variety of shapes and colors.

Now, aside from the rage you might feel when you step on one of those little bricks barefoot, Legos remain a relatively peaceful toy- meant to encourage kids and adults to use their imagination to build and create new worlds. But that has changed as Legos evolved over the years, and because they are a rare example of a toy that has been continuously manufactured for decades, there is a wealth of data available that makes it easy to track that evolution.

Julie Beck is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic where she covers health. She wrote about a new study that tracked the increases in violence, over time, of Lego toys.

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Are Legos Becoming More Violent?

A Toy Story

Susan Wasson was trapped in the 9 to 5 rat race for decades. She assumed her retirement would be a time to take it easy, but she found a new calling--making toys out of trash. Producer Rob Feinberg brought us the story.

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org

Will SpaceX Get to Mars by 2018?

Producer Taylor Quimby is a big science fiction fan, so naturally he’s enjoyed watching the progress of Elon Musk's company SpaceX, as they resupply the International Space Station, and recently made history by successfully landing their reusable falcon rocket on a drone-operated ocean barge. 

So when SpaceX announced not too long ago that they want to put an unmanned capsule on Mars by 2018, he was like, "awwwww yeah".  But Sam Evans-Brown, host of NHPR's show Outside/In, who works about 12 feet away from Taylor, overheard his excitement, and was like "uuuuh, not gonna happen". 

So they asked Phil Plait, to weigh in on their bet. Phil is the science writer behind the Bad Astronomy blog for Slate.  

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Will SpaceX Get to Mars by 2018?