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After carrying her deceased baby for at least 17 days and 1,000 miles, an orca mother has shown signs of returning to normal.

She was seen Saturday with fellow members of her pod, chasing a school of salmon. She is no longer carrying her baby, and she looks healthy. "Her tour of grief is now over and her behavior is remarkably frisky," according to a statement on the Center for Whale Research's website.

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

NASA Launches Spacecraft Toward The Sun

Aug 12, 2018

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(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PATRICK MOORE AND UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Ten, nine...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Unintelligible) start.

PATRICK MOORE AND UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: ...Eight, seven...

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The Sound Of The Golf Swing

Aug 11, 2018

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(CHEERING)

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Some the world's best golfers are at the PGA Championship this weekend. And with golf, there's one distinctive sound that stands above all others.

(SOUNDBITE OF GOLF CLUB HITTING GOLF BALL)

Debbie Dobrosky noticed a peculiar hue in the sky on August 6 — "a very ugly yellow casting" — as she peeked outside. A large cloud of smoke had begun to cover the sun.

By the next day, the smoke was so heavy that "even inside my apartment I've had to use my inhaler twice this morning, which is not a normal thing," says Dobrosky, a Riverside County, Calif., resident who lives about 30 miles from a fast-growing fire in the Cleveland National Forest.

Every summer, the Perseid meteor shower brings a cascade of shooting stars to the night sky.

And this year, it has done us all the favor of arriving right after a new moon — allowing the meteors to show off without lunar competition.

The meteor shower will peak late Sunday night and early Monday morning, but you can also catch a good number of meteors in the middle of the night on Saturday.

So if you happen to be out late this Saturday, take a moment to look up.

Summertime is for road trips. Atlas Obscura and All Things Considered are traveling up the West Coast, from California to Washington, in search of "hidden wonders" — unique but overlooked people and places.

Summertime is for road trips. Atlas Obscura teamed up with All Things Considered to travel up the West Coast, from California to Washington, in search of "hidden wonders" — unique but overlooked people and places.

One morning a few weeks ago, René Corado was so excited that he forgot to eat breakfast.

It was Bea Duncan who answered the phone at 2 a.m. on a January morning. Her son Jeff had been caught using drugs in a New Hampshire sober home and was being kicked out.

Bea and her husband, Doug Duncan, drove north that night nine years ago to pick Jeff up. On the ride back home, to Natick, Mass., the parents delivered an ultimatum: Their son had to go back to rehab, or leave home.

Jeff chose the latter, Bea says. She remembers a lot of yelling, cursing and tears as they stopped the car, in the dead of night, a few miles from the house.

The American West appears to be moving east. New research shows the line on the map that divides the North American continent into arid Western regions and humid Eastern regions is shifting, with profound implications for American agriculture.

In western Oklahoma, farmers like Benji White and his wife, Lori, have become ranchers.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Wednesday ordered federal agencies to use any water necessary to fight sprawling wildfires in California. This is the Trump administration's most forceful response to the fire crisis in California, but experts say water is not really the problem.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

At the Pentagon today, Vice President Mike Pence laid out plans for a new branch of the military in outer space - a Space Force.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Early Saturday morning, if all goes as planned, 91-year-old Eugene Parker will watch a NASA spacecraft named after him blast off on an unprecedented mission to study the sun.

"It's my first rocket launch, so that will be very interesting," says Parker, a retired astrophysicist who lives in Chicago.

Vice President Pence described the White House's plans for a Space Force, a sixth branch of the U.S. military that would be responsible for operations in outer space, in a speech on Thursday.

The White House says that the Space Force will be created by 2020. The change, which would require approval from Congress, would be a dramatic change in the organization of the Defense Department.

"We must have American dominance in space, and so we will," Pence said in his speech at the Pentagon.

For a doctor, learning that a patient has died is often an emotional moment. Emergency room physician Roneet Lev wondered if telling doctors when their patients die of an overdose might motivate them to rethink their prescribing behavior.

"I asked other physicians if they would want to know if a patient had died," says Lev. "They said yes. I needed to help make that happen."

Researchers have discovered why some stomach bugs hit us so hard — and spread so fast.

New research published Wednesday in Cell Host & Microbe found that stomach infections, like norovirus and rotavirus, are more contagious and more potent when the virus particles cluster together.

These findings may help treat — and even prevent — these viruses more effectively.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

This week, the nation's capital is mourning the death of Valor.

Valor was one of two young eaglets in a nest at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., that is monitored by a popular 24/7 webcam. He fell from the nest in the middle of the night on July 26.

If you've ever seen someone with testicles get kicked in the groin, then you probably know that male genitals — often portrayed as a symbol of male strength and virility — aren't actually that tough.

But can testicles — or rather, the sperm they produce — be harmed by something as seemingly innocent as a pair of briefs?

The Western Foundation for Vertebrate Zoology in Camarillo, Calif., houses one of the largest collections of birds eggs and nests in the world. As part of our summer road trip collaboration with Atlas Obscura, we explore the collection and meet the scientists who run the foundation.

Healthy women with normal pregnancies can opt to have labor induced without worrying that the decision will make a cesarean section more likely, according to a major study published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine.

Updated at 4:40 p.m. ET

The Southern California Gas Co., or SoCalGas, has agreed to pay $119.5 million in a settlement with several government entities over the company's massive methane natural gas leak in 2015 and 2016.

The settlement still needs to be approved by the courts.

In a shaded stream in the middle of Berlin's rambling Tiergarten park, fisherman Klaus Hidde lowered himself into the water recently. Several children stood on a platform above him and watched him wade in, wearing high rubber overalls. Hidde pulled a netted trap out of the water and shook it in the air.

"There's too few," Hidde says, shaking his head.

After more than three months, the volcanic eruption on Hawaii's Big Island appears to be slowing.

Geologists at the Hawaiian Volcanic Observatory say the flow of lava from a crack in the earth at the foot of the Kilauea volcano has greatly diminished in recent days. It was lava from that vent, Fissure 8, that ran toward the coast in a molten river, inundating two seaside communities and reshaping the island's southeast coast.

That doesn't mean the event is over. Tina Neal, the scientist in charge of the observatory, noted that eruptions like this typically wax and wane.

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Tangier Island is disappearing. It lies 16 open-water miles from the closest mainland town in Virginia. The island loses around 15 feet of coastline per year, due to rising sea levels and erosion.

Tangier Island, and its 450 residents, vaulted onto the national stage after an interview the mayor and some town residents gave to CNN. In it, they asked President Trump for help in saving the island. Eighty-seven percent of island residents voted for Trump, who has previously called climate change a “hoax.”

Since Zika emerged as a threat to babies, it has been a mystery exactly how much of a danger the mosquito-borne virus poses to children.

But now, the largest study to follow kids who were exposed to the virus in the womb is providing more answers.

The study involved 1,450 babies who had been exposed to the virus, and who were 1-year-old by February 2018. Six percent were born with birth defects, and 14 percent developed problems that could be blamed on the virus by the time they turned 1, the study found.

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