Health & Science

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.

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

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

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

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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's a sunny day, and a woman walks past a young man on the street. He mutters an obscene catcall. In the video, the woman smiles and says, "Thank you!" But then, the camera pans to her fantasy. What she really wishes she could do: the video goes on to show her in her imagination, pulling out a knife and stabbing him.

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.

A key initiative of the Affordable Care Act was a program designed to help control soaring Medicare costs by encouraging doctors and hospitals to work together to coordinate patients' care. This led to the formation of what are known as accountable care organizations or ACOs.

The program was expected to save the government nearly $5 billion by 2019, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

It hasn't come anywhere close.

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.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is "seriously considering" a request to testify in person before the U.S. Senate intelligence committee about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to a statement from his lawyer.

Assange has been holed up at Ecuador's embassy in London since 2012, in part over fears that he could be extradited to the U.S. and potentially face trial over leaking massive troves of documents.

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.

Pages