Fifty years ago, on Dec. 14, 1962, reporters gathered for a press briefing at NASA headquarters and heard an unearthly sound: radio signals being beamed back by a spacecraft flying within 22,000 miles of Venus.
The Mariner 2 mission to Venus was the first time any spacecraft had ever gone to another planet.
These days, vivid photographs showing scenes from all around the solar system are so ubiquitous that people might easily forget how mysterious our planetary neighbors used to be.
Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 6:40 pm
As details emerged about the tragic shooting deaths of more than 20 children and adults at a Connecticut elementary school today, law enforcement sources first named Ryan Lanza as the suspected gunman. But that account, reported by NPR and other news outlets, was later called into question by reports that identified Lanza's younger brother, Adam, as the suspect.
Update at 7:28 p.m. ET: Suspect's Identity Confirmed.
The world mourned the death this week of Indian maestro Ravi Shankar, whose name became synonymous with the sitar. Tributes eulogized Shankar as the great connector of the East and West who'd hobnobbed with The Beatles and collaborated with violin virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin. Less has been said about the roots of the music he spent a lifetime perfecting and innovating.
Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 4:22 pm
Even as Friday's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., suggests that more could be done, the whole culture of school security has undergone a revolution since the 1999 Columbine school shooting, experts say.
"Schools are far more secure than they were at the time of Columbine," says Paul Timm, president of RETA Security Inc., a school security consultancy.
For one, he says, "They keep most exterior doors secured, which is something they didn't pay much attention to before."
There's a certain intensity of spirit in jazz and improvised music, to the point where it occasionally aligns with religious worship. You especially see it around Christmastime, when certain musicians who happen to be Christians purpose their craft in observance of the season.
Of course, sometimes jazz musicians just like playing familiar songs.
Here are five records, all from 2012, which run the gamut of Christmas jazz. From deep meditations on the holiday's narrative to more offbeat ways to get into the spirit, inventiveness isn't a scarce resource this winter.
Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 5:32 pm
Transcript of President Obama's speech on Dec. 14 following a deadly mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. Source: White House
This afternoon, I spoke with Governor Malloy and FBI Director Mueller. I offered Governor Malloy my condolences on behalf of the nation and made it clear he will have every single resource that he needs to investigate this heinous crime, care for the victims, counsel their families.
Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 3:48 pm
Few people expected that the Obama administration would be running health exchanges in more than 30 states when the federal health law was signed two years ago.
But with the deadline for states to decide just hours away, only 18 states and the District of Columbia have proposed operating their own insurance marketplaces. The exchanges are a key tool under the law to expand health coverage to an estimated 23 million people over the next four years.
Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 1:18 pm
As the Syrian opposition gains control of large swaths of territory in the country's north, local councils are emerging as the first alternative authority after 21 months of revolt.
It is still unclear if the civilian councils can impose order in war-torn areas where rebels have the power of arms. And at least parts of major cities remain in the hands of President Bashar Assad's forces.