NPR Staff

Sorry to disappoint Trekkies who still believe, but the actual USS Enterprise did not really take up much space.

That famous starship of Mr. Spock and Capt. James Tiberius Kirk in the original Star Trek TV series — which turns 50 this year — was a model. Quite a large one, to be fair: 11 feet long and about 200 pounds, made out of blow-molded plastic and wood. But not life-sized.

And for more than a decade, it hung in the gift shop of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space museum in Washington, D.C.

This week on Hidden Brain, we take on cheating.

Can a computer write a sonnet that's indistinguishable from what a human can produce? Computer scientists at Dartmouth College tried to answer that question with a competition that NPR's Joe Palca reported on as part of his series, Joe's Big Idea.

This story is part of "The View From," an election-year project focused on how voters' needs of government are shaped by where they live. The series started in Illinois, visited Appalachia, and this week, NPR took a road trip across two Northeastern states.

For the last couple of months, we've brought you our series, Hanging On, about the increasing pressure on the middle class in 2016.

Now, we bring you Hanging On: 2029.

What's your night sky look like?

For most of the world, it's not a pretty sight. A new study has found that 80 percent of the world can't see the stars at night because of light pollution.

When you think of the sound of Houston, you might think of country and western music. Maybe you've heard of bluesmen like Johnny Copeland and Albert Collins or gospel stars like Yolanda Adams. Or, you know, Beyoncé?

What do Van Morrison's "Domino," the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar" and Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On?" have in common? All of them were recorded or became hits in 1971 — the year music journalist David Hepworth insists is the best year in rock 'n' roll history.

The NPR Politics team is back with an episode on gun laws and why, in recent American history, they never seem to change. The team discusses the four gun proposals that were rejected by the Senate this week, as well as a possible compromise bill that is in the works and the power of the NRA.

On the podcast:

  • Congressional reporter Susan Davis
  • Editor and correspondent Ron Elving
  • Campaign reporter Sam Sanders

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