Midday

Matt Tillett/Flickr via Creative Commons

The Conowingo Dam supplies enough clean energy every day to power 160,000 homes and businesses. But this dam and others have greatly altered the Susquehanna River. Legend has it you could once walk across the river entirely on the backs of migrating shad. Last year, around 8,000 shad made it past the dam, a record low. Only 43 made it all the way to their spawning grounds. Plus, millions of tons of polluted sediment have built up in the reservoir behind the dam. It is now at capacity. Meanwhile, for the first time since 1980, the Conowingo is up for relicensing. Could this be a watershed moment?

Penn State / Flickr via Creative Commons

Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed. Plato, Socrates, Hippocrates. All of them had at least one thing in common. They fasted. It turns out these influential figures were on to something, at least when it comes to health. Some scientists say that regularly abstaining from food for even short periods of time may improve health, boost brain power, and fight diseases ranging from cancer to diabetes to Alzheimer’s. It could even extend lives. The catch is that you have to periodically put down your fork. Could you permanently say goodbye to breakfast if it meant you might live longer? What about skipping all your meals two days a week? We speak to Mark Mattson, chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging, and University of Maryland molecular geneticist Steve Mount, who has been a practitioner for the last 12 years.

Whether you’re an avid star-gazer or just a fan of outer space, chances are you’ve turned your gaze to the night sky in search of constellations, planets, and other celestial attractions. But you may not have considered how studying space can be a catalyst for community building. Baltimore’s Popscope is working to make astronomy fun, free, and portable. We speak to volunteers Ariel Hicks and Joseph Long about Popscope’s goal of creating an inclusive community of astronomers throughout the city. Plus, Herman Heyn, Baltimore’s self-proclaimed "star hustler” has been a street corner astronomer for nearly thirty years. What wonder do the heavens still hold for him?

If you’re feeling safe, that you made it through a digital revolution and a near-collapse of the world economy, and you still have a job … Alec Ross wants you to know there’s more innovation on the way – a tsunami of changes coming soon that will re-make our economy, again. In his new book, "The Industries of the Future," the Johns Hopkins distinguished visiting fellow predicts robots not just performing physical labor more efficiently, but taking on tasks humans could not imagine doing. Ross pictures technology vaporizing language barriers, and the so-called sharing economy hammering the working class. With all this, some advice for our children. Alec Ross, and the future of your job, on Midday. Original air date: February 18, 2016.

The dandy charger, the velocipede, the draisine -- all names for the first versions of the bicycle, which sprung to life in the early 19th century. Bicycles played a role in shaping attitudes about fashion, exercise, and child-rearing. Faced with cobblestones and potholes, early adopters in America petitioned the government to improve road conditions. Before setting their sights on flight, the Wright brothers repaired and manufactured bicycles. They even used bikes to test out early propeller designs. Riding a bike is not just a childhood milestone, it’s a hobby, a sport, and way to circumvent congested commutes. We speak to Margaret Guroff, author of “The Mechanical Horse: How the Bicycle Reshaped American Life."

The war in Syria has displaced more than half the population, and hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed. The country’s rich cultural heritage is another victim of the conflict. Syria’s archaeological sites include the ruins of our earliest civilizations and some of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world. ISIS has attacked archaeological sites, including the famous ancient city of Palmyra, with bulldozers and explosives. Bombing, looting, and illegal excavation have wreaked further havoc. Palmyra is one of six UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Syria. All have been damaged or destroyed. What’s been lost and what’s being done to protect the antiquities that remain? 

Did you know that dinosaurs didn’t actually go extinct? One group is still with us: they’re called birds. Were you aware that most dinosaurs had feathers? Does it surprise you to hear that Tyrannosaurus Rex is closer to us in time than it was to Stegosaurus? Dinosaurs are as popular as ever, particularly among children. But the picture the general public has of them hasn’t kept pace with the science. Today University of Maryland dinosaur paleontologist Thomas Holtz, Jr. joins us to talk discoveries, dispel myths and tell us how we know what we know about one of the most successful groups of animals to ever walk the earth.

Raised on the Registry / Human Rights Watch

Roughly 200,000 people are on the sex offender registry for something they did as a child, as young as age nine. Some committed serious offenses. But pulling down a classmate’s pants or having sex underage can also land you on the registry, with devastating consequences. Sex offenders must steer clear of churches, parks, and schools. They must keep law enforcement constantly informed of their whereabouts. Their photographs and personal information are often public. And they can remain on the list for decades, even life. Critics say the registry does profound, lasting damage to kids who are placed on it, while failing to protect public safety. Is it time for reform?

D. Watkins’ is rooted in East Baltimore. His compelling writing style has earned him a toehold among young black writers commanding national attention. Watkins’ latest book, "The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir," takes us deep inside Baltimore’s drug trade and offers a rare glimpse into what it takes to escape that world. 

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People with untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed during a police encounter than other civilians approached by law enforcement. That’s the finding of a study last year by the nonprofit Treatment Advocacy Center. Today, we talk about how training can help police recognize the signs of mental illness and de-escalate tense situations. We speak to retired Major Sam Cochran, who founded a crisis intervention model that addresses the special challenges to law enforcement posed by persons with mental illness. And we hear from Lt. Steven Thomas and Jen Corbin, director of Anne Arundel County's Crisis Response System, about how the county is connecting police and mental health professionals with the greater community.

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