Ira Leifer, next to an RV he has outfitted with methane sensors and other equipment to sniff the air.
Credit Courtesy of Ira Leifer and Paige Farrell, et. al. / Published in Atmospheric Environment
This map shows methane measurements Ira Leifer took as he drove in his RV around the Los Angeles basin. Notice the pronounced spike in levels of methane around the La Brea Tar Pits in the center of the image. Geological faults here allow "natural" methane to escape. The redder the color, the more methane was detected.
Credit Richard Harris / NPR
Ira Leifer, at his garage-turned-lab in Santa Barbara, has been studying the levels of methane in the atmosphere.
Credit Richard Harris / NPR
Leifer stands atop his roving chemistry lab. He and his team took 6,600 methane readings on the cross-country drive from Florida to California.
If you're driving down the road someday and you come across a camper with a 50-foot periscope sticking up into the sky, you just might have crossed paths with Ira Leifer. His quirky vehicle is on a serious mission. It's sniffing the air for methane, a gas that contributes to global warming.
Leifer is an atmospheric scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. But you'll more often find him off campus, in a garage, next to a string of auto body shops near the airport.
Six years ago, the FBI took on a challenge: To review what it called cold case killings from the civil rights era. The investigation into 112 cases from the 1950s and 1960s is winding down, and civil rights activists are weighing the FBI's efforts.
The review comes with word this week of the death of a man who'd been named, by a newspaper investigation, as a possible suspect in one notorious case.
An Afghan worker helps excavate part of the mountaintop copper works above the ancient city at Mes Aynak in February. Afghanistan is believed to be sitting on massive mineral and metal deposits. But many obstacles have prevented large-scale mining from getting underway.
Credit Musadeq Sadeq / AP
A journalist walks by an exhibit of minerals on the way to a news conference by the Afghan minister of mines, in Kabul in 2010.
For years, reports have suggested that Afghanistan is sitting on massive deposits of copper, gold, iron and rare earth minerals valued up to $3 trillion. This provides hope for a future economy that would not have to rely so heavily on foreign donations.
But with an uncertain political, regulatory and security environment, international investors are hesitant. And it could be many years before Afghanistan begins extracting its mineral wealth.
It's been a long slog already for the bipartisan immigration overhaul proposed by the Senate's Gang of Eight.
The legislation has been the target of more than 300 amendments during days of debate and votes by the Senate Judiciary Committee. But while the bill has largely held its own so far, its prospects for getting through Congress remain uncertain.
In Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy's view, the immigration overhaul is "moving very well."
"It's moving a lot faster than people said it would," says Leahy, a Vermont Democrat.
France is officially the 14th country to legalize gay marriage. Saturday, President Francois Hollande signed a bill that Parliament had passed in April, which gives same-sex couples the right to marry and adopt.
Two Metro-North Railroad trains have collided on a stretch of track near Fairfield, Conn., causing a "major derailment" and "preliminary reports of injuries," according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
[Update at 8:55 p.m. ET: The Associated Press quotes Connecticut officials as saying about 50 people have been hurt, four of them seriously.]
The British Foreign Office is happy to assist its citizens, but officials want to make clear that there are some requests they won't fulfill.
Such as supplying Olympic tickets or doing a background check on that Swedish woman you met online.
Those are just a few of the "often good natured" but distracting requests that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) says it received over the past year, according to a press release issued Thursday.
President Obama's commencement speeches seem to be his real State of the Union addresses. On May 5, he told Ohio State students that they were graduating into a "healing" economy.
Credit Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP
But last year, he reminded Air Force Academy graduates that they were the first class in nearly a decade to graduate with "no Americans fighting in Iraq."
Credit Charles Dharapak / AP
Throughout all his graduation speeches, Obama sounds themes of shared responsibility, as when he told University of Michigan students in 2010 that "government is us."
Credit Carolyn Kaster / AP
President Obama's commencement speeches often seem more about the big-picture state of the union than do his State of the Union addresses. On May 5, he told Ohio State students that they were graduating into a "healing" economy.
Gerry Leone was the district attorney for Middlesex County in Massachusetts when three people were murdered in a house in the Boston suburb of Waltham. He told reporters that police suspected the assailants and the victims knew each other.
An unsolved triple murder in the Boston suburbs is getting a closer look in the wake of the marathon bombings. One of the victims may have been a friend of bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. That's prompting authorities to revisit the 2011 case.
The murders took place in Waltham, Mass. On Sept. 12, 2011, police responded to a house in the leafy suburb a few miles west of Boston.