This summer's drought is not helping the wildfire situation, and the drought is also deeply harming the nation's agricultural economy. Parched lands extend from California to Indiana, and from Texas to South Dakota, impacting everyone from farmers and ranchers to barge operators and commodity traders.
As NPR's David Schaper reports, some farmers are getting close to calling it quits.
DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: Looking over his small, 100-acre farm near South Union, Kentucky, Rich Vernon doesn't like what he sees.
And our last word in business brings to mind Matt Damon's character in the poker movie "Rounders."
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ROUNDERS")
MATT DAMON: (as Mike McDermott) Why does this still seem like gambling to you? I mean, why do you think the same five guys make it to the final table at the World Series of Poker every single year? What are they, the luckiest guys in Las Vegas? It's a skill game.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
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And I'm Steve Inskeep.
Talks with Iran on its controversial nuclear program are set to intensify in the coming days. Tomorrow in Vienna, authorities from the International Atomic Energy Agency meet again with Iranian representatives. They'll discuss some past suspicious nuclear activities. Next week, other talks involving the United States, Europe, Russia and China are set to resume.
Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 5:58 am
Egypt's first democratically elected president is under fire for trying to silence his critics. In the last two weeks, a satellite TV channel was pulled off the air, two journalists were referred to criminal court for defamation and a state newspaper was accused of censoring columns critical of President Mohammed Morsi.
Roger Angel, an astronomer at the University of Arizona, stands in front of his new project: a solar tracker. Angel wants to use the device to harness Arizona's abundant sunlight and turn it into usable energy.
Credit Gary Williams/Stringer / Getty Images North America
Angel uses this rotating furnace at the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab on the University of Arizona campus to make his giant mirrors. The process, called "spin casting," helps form the molten glass into the parabolic shape needed for focusing light.
Credit Joe McNally / Getty Images
Roger Angel's mirror technology is now used in many large telescopes around the world, including this one, the Large Binocular Telescope at the Mount Graham International Observatory in Arizona. Its twin mirrors can produce images 10 times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope.
Credit Jason Millstein for NPR
Angel does a final inspection on one of his mirrors. The weight of telescope mirrors made the traditional way limits their size. Angel realized he could produce a bigger mirror by creating a mold with a honeycomb pattern, making the mirror lighter.
Angel is working to put another mirror-based concept into action, this time to fight climate change. The solar tracker, seen here, makes electricity by focusing sunlight on photovoltaic cells.
Credit University of Arizona
An illustration of Angel's 2006 idea to reduce the effects of global warming by reflecting the sun's light with massive glass shields in space. It's a last-resort sort of idea, Angel admits.
You may not be familiar with the name Roger Angel, but if there were ever a scientist with a creative streak a mile wide, it would be he.
Angel is an astronomer. He's famous for developing an entirely new way of making really large, incredibly precise telescope mirrors. But his creativity doesn't stop there. He's now turned his attention to solar power, hoping to use the tricks he learned from capturing distant light from stars to do a more cost-efficient job of capturing light from the Sun.