The Human Heart May Not Be Able to Handle the Trip to Mars

The Human Heart May Not Be Able to Handle the Trip to Mars

Anyone dreaming of casting off the shackles of Earth for the microgravity wasteland of Mars is in for some (more ) bad news. In addition to a host of other problems , the necessary 18-month spaceflight would, apparently, lead to one very unhealthy (and spherical) astronaut heart.

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iMore show 377: Big Chowder

Rene, Peter, Richard, and Ally talk App Store video trailers, iOS 7.1 beta, taking Mavericks back to iOS, iPad Air vs. iPad mini, and more!

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For all our podcasts — audio and video — including the iMore show, ZEN and TECH, Iterate, Debug, Ad hoc, and more, see


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Matt Kenseth wins pole at Homestead for finale

Driver Matt Kenseth drive a lap during practice for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

Driver Matt Kenseth drive a lap during practice for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

Driver Jimmie Johnson prepares for practice for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla.(AP Photo/David Graham)

Jimmie Johnson drives a practice lap during practice for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) — Matt Kenseth has won the pole at Homestead-Miami Speedway for Sunday’s season-ending and championship-deciding race.

It was a massive turnaround for Kenseth following his worst performance of the season last week at Phoenix. He finished 23rd to fall 28 points behind championship leader Jimmie Johnson leading into the finale.

Now he’s got his third pole of the season and will start in front of Johnson Sunday.

Johnson qualified seventh. But he needs only to finish 23rd or higher to win his sixth championship.

Kevin Harvick is the only other driver mathematically eligible to win the title and goes into the race 34 points behind Johnson. He qualified one spot ahead of Johnson in sixth.

Associated PressSource:
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Obama admin. posts low health care signups

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, before the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the difficulties plaguing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act,. The massive failure at website is getting new criticism for lack of proper cybersecurity protections. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, before the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the difficulties plaguing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act,. The massive failure at website is getting new criticism for lack of proper cybersecurity protections. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., holds up a checklist related to the preparation for the implementation of the Obamacare healthcare program, and specifically, the website, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Issa wants to know why the administration required consumers to first create online accounts at before they could shop for health plans, a decision runs counter to the common e-commerce practice of allowing anonymous window-shopping. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Planting a paltry number on a national disappointment, the Obama administration revealed Wednesday that just 26,794 people enrolled for health insurance during the first, flawed month of operations for the federal “Obamacare” website.

Adding in enrollment of more than 79,000 in the 14 states with their own websites, the nationwide number of 106,000 October sign-ups was barely one-fifth of what officials had projected — and a small fraction of the millions who have received widely publicized private coverage cancellations as a result of the federal law.

The White House raced to reassure anxious Democrats who are worried about the controversial program, which they voted into existence three years ago and which seems sure to be a major issue in next year’s election campaigns. The administration, trying to regain the initiative, for the first time indicated a willingness to consider legislation to stave off the wave of cancellations that’s compounding the website technology problems.

Some Democrats are seeking changes in Obama’s signature program, and key Republicans, many pressing for repeal, said that even Wednesday’s feeble sign-up figures appeared to be pumped up. The final number — 106,185 people — would be even smaller if it counted only those who finalized their enrollment by actually paying their first month’s premium, Republicans said.

Administration officials and senior congressional Democrats expressed confidence in the program’s future. “We expect enrollment will grow substantially throughout the next five months,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who is in overall charge.

“Even with the issues we’ve had, the marketplace is working and people are enrolling,” Sebelius said. Responding to GOP critics, she said the first premiums are not due until Dec. 15.

The online, state-level insurance markets were envisioned as the new portal to coverage for people who don’t have health plans on the job. But the federal market was overwhelmed by technical problems when it opened Oct. 1, and the experience of state-run markets has been mixed.

The administration said an additional 1 million individuals have been found eligible to buy coverage on the markets, with about one-third qualifying for tax credits to reduce their premiums. Another 396,000 have been found eligible for Medicaid, the safety-net program that is shaping up as the health care law’s early success story.

For many Democrats, concerns over the cascade of website problems has been compounded by the focus on Obama’s misleading promise that Americans who liked their health insurance plans could keep them under the overhaul. But millions of people are receiving cancellation notices. They have plans that for various reasons don’t qualify for the law’s “grandfather clause” protection against cancellations.

Obama has said he’s sorry that people are losing their coverage and has vowed to find ways to address “holes and gaps” in the law. Advisers originally said the White House was considering administrative fixes, not legislative options.

On Wednesday, Obama spokesman Jay Carney said, “If we can achieve this administratively, we will certainly look at that possibility,” but he added that the White House was also considering legislative ideas.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., scheduled an all-Democrats meeting Thursday with White House health care officials.

Republicans, meanwhile, are holding hearings to keep the overhaul’s problems in the spotlight ahead of an election year.

“It’s kind of interesting to see as Obamacare implodes how everybody’s running for cover,” said Rep. John Mica, R-Fla. And Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said, “Obviously, panic has set in on the other side.”

The administration has staked its credibility on turning the website around by the end of this month. From the president on down, officials have said that will be running smoothly for the vast majority of users by Nov. 30. They have not specified what “running smoothly” means.

The day was another blow for the administration and its supporters in Congress, who had been counting on Obamacare as a neutral if not winning issue in next year’s midterm elections.

Three more swing state Senate Democrats seeking re-election in 2014 signed onto legislation drafted by Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana to ensure that anyone liking their current coverage would be able to keep it, an attempt to resolve the issue of cancellations.

In the House, meanwhile, majority Republicans set a vote for Friday on legislation to permit insurance companies to continue selling existing policies that have been ordered scrapped because they fall short of coverage standards in the law.

On daily media calls, Health and Human Services department officials have described a situation where problems get fixed and then new issues crop up as consumers are able to venture further into the website. It’s a bit like traffic heading back to a city late on a summer Sunday: You get past one jam, and odds are you run into another.

There was a hopeful sign this Tuesday when Julie Bataille, HHS communications director for the rollout, said that 275,000 people who got hung up in the early days are being invited back to try to complete their applications. The administration is sending the email invitations in batches, so as not to risk any disruptions. White House chief technology officer Todd Park told Congress on Wednesday that system response times are much faster, and error rates have plunged.

But other signals have raised questions. In a blog post on Saturday, Bataille quoted chief White House troubleshooter Jeff Zients as saying improvements would continue in “December, January, February — just like you do with any website.”

Asked whether the Nov. 30 target was still achievable, Bataille said on Tuesday, “I want to be clear that our plan remains the same. We are on a path to make improvements week by week so that by the end of November, the site will be working for the vast majority of users.”

It’s unlikely that Congress will let the website repairs flounder much beyond Nov. 30. Millions of lawmakers’ constituents who are losing current individual policies would have to select new plans by Dec. 15 to avoid a break in coverage.

The main federal website is central because other enrollment routes, from call centers to counselors to paper applications received by mail, all depend on having that access.

In Congress earlier Wednesday, the House’s chief investigator plunged into the technical issues behind the dysfunctional rollout.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is investigating a long list of issues: insufficient testing, possible security flaws, design shortcomings — even allegations of political meddling.

“Established best practices of our government were not used in this case,” said Issa. As a result, the law’s promise of affordable health insurance “does not exist today in a meaningful way.” Like other Republicans, Issa wants the law repealed, not fixed.

Ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland questioned Issa’s fairness.

Addressing Issa directly, Cummings said: “Over the past month, instead of working in a bipartisan manner to improve the website, you’ve politicized this issue by repeatedly making unfounded allegations.”


Associated Press writer Anne Flaherty, Julie Pace and David Espo contributed to this report.

Associated PressSource:
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Geeking out young: gadgets and coding need to be core in US schools

DNP Geeking out young bringing gadgets to kids

Remember readin’, ‘riting, and ‘rithmatic? According to our Rethinking Education panelists, the three ‘R’s need to be joined by a ‘C’ — for computer science — or the US risks getting run over by more progressive nations. That was the opinion of Rodrigo Arboleda from the One Laptop Per Child organization, who spoke at Engadget Expand along with Jeff Branson from Sparkfun and Pat Yongpradit from

Pat kicked off the discussion by playing his organization’s YouTube video featuring the likes of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, which has been seen by some 10 million viewers. While motivational, it emphasized that only one in ten American schools teach students how to code, a deficit that all three speakers found scandalous. Arboleda chalked it up to an educational system that still processes students like a factory that doesn’t take individual student’s ability to learn into account. He added that more progressive countries like South Korea, Taiwan and Finland might soon be pumping out more computer scientists and engineers thanks to a strong emphasis on coding.

One of the strongest challenges is that computer sciences get a bad rap, associated as they are with a rigid male culture of uncreative learning. Prodded further by moderator Dana Wollman, Jeff said that we could start by creating new systems and interfaces that eliminate gender bias, citing first person shooter-type games as a prime offender. As far as being a rote discipline, Pat argued that coding actually teaches creativity, problem solving and a host of other life skills. By way of debunking the myth that programming is only for nerds, he showed a picture of his latest class — which featured as many jocks as geeks and more female than male students. As for geek culture now being cool, Jeff added that Sparkfun has to try less hard to attract students now, thanks to a new cachet for coding, robotics and the like.

Though many feel that there’s already too many gadgets and too much internet in kids’ lives, Rodrigo and One Laptop per Child have the opposite viewpoint. He said that a laptop can become a precious, transformational object for a child, taking them to new places in their personal development — especially if coupled with internet access. As for the sorry state of computer science in schools stateside, Yongpradit emphasized the need for teacher certification programs in computing, building a curriculum the same way math and sciences were: one block at a time. Rodrigo took it a step further, saying that access to digital tools and internet has become “a basic human right” — severely disadvantaging those who lack them.

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Mercy! Check out all the sweet gear you could win at Expand NY

Mercy! Check out all the sweet gear you could win at Expand NY

On the off chance an incredible list of sponsors, an action-packed conference and all the other things we’ve already told you about aren’t enough to get you out to the Javits Center for Expand NY this weekend, we thought you might want to take a look at all the great stuff you could win, too.

We were right, weren’t we?

But before we do, we’d like to give a big shout out to our massively generous sponsors!

Read on to find out what you could win at Expand NY…

  • Lenovo: Two 10-inch Yoga tablets and two 8-inch Yoga tablets
  • AMD: Four VIZIO Tablet PCs
  • Phone Halo: 100 Wallet TrackRs
  • Gogo: Four Chromebooks and four Gogo Goodie Bags
  • BRAVEN: Three 710 speakers
  • SoftKinetic: Two Creative Senz 3D cameras
  • Sling Media: One Slingbox 500 and one Slingbox 350
  • Mad Catz: Five TRITTON Kunai universal headsets
  • myIDkey: One myIDkey voice-search, secure Bluetooth, USB password management drive
  • Grain Audio: One PWS speaker and two pairs of in-ear headphones (IEHPs)
  • PivotHead: Three pairs of Air Sync Wearable Imaging glasses
  • Boogie Board: One Sync 9.7 eWriter and eighteen Jot 4.5 eWriters
  • SparkFun: One Inventors Kit and one Learn to Solder Simon Says Kit
  • Karma: Two Karma 1GB WiFi Hotspots
  • Verizon: Two Leap Motion Gesture Controllers and $200 in GameStop Gift Certificates
  • WD: Two WD TV Live Hubs
  • Misfit Wearables: Five Shine personal activity monitors
  • Voltaic Systems: One OffGrid solar backpack

Plus a couple things we can’t mention yet because they’re launching at the show!

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Reporter’s Notebook: Ofeibea Quist-Arcton On Nigeria

Hundreds of people have been killed in northern Nigeria this year. The violence is blamed on Boko Haram, an extremist group that claims to be fighting against westernization. Host Michel Martin learns more from NPR’s Africa correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, who recently visited the town where Boko Haram was born.

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Fosse’s Genius: Working Even As He Was Dying

The choreographer known for jazz hands and the bump and grind was not afraid of death as much as he feared not being brilliant. Host Scott Simon speaks with Sam Wasson, author of Fosse, a new biography about the iconic dancer, choreographer, screenwriter and director.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I’m Scott Simon.


SIMON: The bowler hat, cocked just so, the jazz hands, splayed, the slouch and shoulder roll, the turned-in knee, the turned-around chair, the cane used for everything but walking, the bump and grind spun into a kind of poetry. The signature genius of Bob Fosse.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Singing) (as character) Come on, babe, why don’t we gonna paint the town, and all that jazz. I’m gonna move my knees until my stocking’s down, and all that jazz…

SIMON: Bob Fosse was the guy who put swagger, swoon and hotcha into dance. He was a dancer who became a choreographer, a choreographer who became a director. He won eight Tony Awards, including “The Pajama Game” and “Sweet Charity,” an Academy Award for directing “Cabaret” – incidentally beating out Francis Ford Coppola and “The Godfather.” And he more or less invented “Chicago, “the Kander and Ebb musical, that is.

Sam Wasson, who wrote the best-seller “Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M., Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” and is a visiting professor at Wesleyan, has written a big new biography with a much shorter title: “Fosse.” Sam Wasson joins us from New York. Thanks so much for being with us.

SAM WASSON: Hi, thank you.

SIMON: What do you think it was like to be directed by Bob Fosse?

WASSON: Heaven and hell, I would say. Hell, in a sense that he didn’t let you get away with anything. He pushed and pushed you. He beat the talent out of you. He knew more about what you could give than you did. And that’s not an easy environment to be around. The heaven is that he was most always right and he pushed you to your best work. So, if you could survive that day with Bob, you walked out onto the street probably as tired as you’ve ever been but with the pride of your life.

SIMON: Yeah. In many ways, the most significant friendship he had – and I’m going to put Gwen Verdon in a separate category, who was beyond friendship, beyond love really – but he had this three-way friendship: Paddy Chayefsky, the writer, Herb Gardner, the playwright. Reading your book, I long to be a fly in the pickle bin on their table at the Carnegie Deli…

WASSON: Me, too.

SIMON: …when they would have lunch every day.

WASSON: Thank you for saying that, yes.

SIMON: So, how did they help each other?

WASSON: Well, it’s a fabulous combination. I mean, you have Fosse, who is this short, skinny, dancing elf, and Chayefsky, who’s this enormous Jewish grizzly bear intellectual – Laurel and Hardy if you, you know, if you put them together. The combination is really razzle-dazzle with Fosse and content with Paddy. Fosse always felt – I mean, Fosse felt insecure about everything. And one of the sources of Fosse’s insecurity was that he felt he never really generated anything, that his talent was just in pulling the wool over their eyes, in doing tricks and having a couple of fancy steps. So, a guy like Chayefsky is the exact opposite of that. No B.S. with Chayefsky. He is a writer. He is the real thing. He is not an interpretive artist; he’s a generative artist. He starts with the blank page. Fosse starts with someone else’s work. So, Bob was utterly in awe of what Paddy could accomplish and tried to bring a little of that to his own work, which is not really easy when you’re dealing with musical comedy, which is essentially a light, novelty entertainment.

SIMON: So, that’s a good intro into talking about Fosse when he as directing the film “Cabaret” – Kander and Ebb again – smoking, astonishingly, 100 cigarettes a day. “Cabaret,” that’s a showbiz story set inside a nightmare regime. Nowadays, we would say what great material for Bob Fosse. But I’m struck by the fact that it seems like when they were making the film, not only was he smoking his brains out, nobody seemed to know they were working on one of the great films of all time.

WASSON: Well, they knew they were having a great time working on the movie, but they were frightened, as anyone would be, trying something new, and, by the way, with no money. This was a tiny little production company. Liza Minnelli was not yet a star and they were, of course, dealing with probably the most difficult material ever to be musicalized up until that point, and arguably to this very day. And that is, of course, the Nazis. How do you sing and dance about the Nazis, unless – Mel Brooks had one answer to that. And this is a very different answer. How do you take it absolutely seriously? So, the combination of all of those things was a huge roll of the dice. So, no one had any idea, aside from the fact that they were having a fabulous time, that they were working on, arguably, the greatest movie musical of all time.

SIMON: So, in this story, Bob Fosse wins the Oscar for “Cabaret.” He wins a Tony for “Pippin,” an Emmy for directing “Liza with a Z.” This is a, you know, a three-peat that hadn’t been done before. And his heart begins to give out. If you could set the scene with his profound good friends, Paddy Chayefsky and Herb Gardner in his hospital room the night before he has open-heart surgery.

WASSON: Ah, that’s – I’m glad you singled that out. I’m a little nervous telling the story. Well, one of the things about Paddy and Herb and Bob that made them so beautiful and so fun to be around was that they laughed at everything. I mean, it didn’t matter how dark it got. In fact, the darker it got, the more of an invitation that was to find something to laugh about, which is actually another way of thinking about Bob’s work.

So, to put Fosse in the hospital having just had a heart attack, facing open-heart surgery the next morning – bypass surgery – he’s sitting there with Paddy. Paddy’s going over Fosse’s will, which he had just rewritten, and Paddy, of course, reads every single word of every single page of the document expecting to find himself in there. He realizes Fosse’s left him out. And Paddy looks up from the will and looks to Fosse and says: I’m not in here. I’m your best friend of 10 years, where am I? And Fosse says” Well, Paddy, I don’t worry about you. You’re going to be fine. I wanted to make sure Gwen was OK and Nicole was OK.

SIMON: Nicole’s his daughter.

WASSON: Nicole’s his – yes, exactly. I wanted to provide for my family. I don’t worry about you. You know I love you. I got to provide for these other people. And Paddy looks up and says: (bleep) you, live.


WASSON: And Fosse – so, that gives you a flavor of what these guys were. And Fosse laughs so hard, and the, you know, all the tubes are plugged into his nose and the heart machine starts beeping and – I mean, it was a constant party in Fosse’s room.

SIMON: Well, and I’m struck by something you said, because I guess he said he was under anesthesia and began to get some ideas for a film. And he said: Even as I’m dying I’m working.

WASSON: Yep. That’s the whole story of the guy right there.

SIMON: He didn’t expect to live past 60, did he?

WASSON: No. I think you could say Bob knew from as early as he knew anything that he was going to die young. I mean, the heart disease was chronic in his family. And he smoked 100 cigarettes a day, took Dexedrine the better part of his life, didn’t eat well, worked all the time, and in 1974 suffered a heart attack. So, the writing was on the wall there. There was never any illusion that Fosse knew how he was going to die. It was only a question of when. And we see that, of course, in “All That Jazz.” I mean, he makes a movie about his own death, which turns out to be pretty close to the way that he dies. And still, Fosse would shrug his shoulders and, you know, keep his head down on work. He didn’t really care. What he cared about was work. Death scared him but not as much as the thought of not being a genius scared him. That was the most important thing.

SIMON: Sam Wasson. His new book, “Fosse.” Thanks so much for being with us.

WASSON: Thank you.

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Creature Feature: The Original Frankenstein Text Is Now Readable Online

Creature Feature: The Original Frankenstein Text Is Now Readable Online

In the pantheon of classic horror, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein ranks as one of the first, and most memorable, monster tales ever told. And while it’s easy enough to pick up a new copy of the spine-tingling 1818 narrative from pretty much any bookstore, it’s now possible to pore over the original, hand-penned manuscript online.

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‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ Trailer (Video)

The first ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ trailer has hit the Web! Brian Singer directs an all-star cast — Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Anna Paquin, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and others, both returning cast and newcomers — in the highly anticipated superhero movie. This glimpse of the upcoming movie, the latest installment of the Marvel comic book franchise, has fueled excitement. It is a sequel-prequel to the previous X-Men movies — ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ and ‘X-Men: First Class’ — and as such, it brings back the beloved mutant characters from both movies. The trailer offers much that its intriguing as it finds Hugh Jackman (picture above) as The Wolverine, along with the mutants as they confront challenges in two different time periods. It serves to bring together a staggering number of characters all in one movie. It all comes about when Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) send Wolverine back into the past so that he warn their younger selves — portrayed, respectively by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender — of what can happen. The mastermind of this disaster to come is the villain Bolivar Trask, portrayed by Peter Dinklage (‘Game [...]Source:
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