In a double-blind test by professional violinists, most couldn't determine — by sound alone — which violin was an original Stradivarius and which was a modern instrument. Above, a 1729 Stradivari known as the "Solomon, Ex-Lambert."
In the world of violins, the names Stradivari and Guarneri are sacred. For three centuries, violin-makers and scientists have studied the instruments made by these Italian craftsmen. So far no one has figured out what makes their sound different. But a new study now suggests maybe they aren't so different after all.
OK, here's a test. Clip one is a musical phrase from Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D Major. Clip two is the same phrase. The same musician plays both. But one is on a Stradivarius violin, the other on a violin made in 1980. See if you can tell the difference.
The tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar has deep pockets and a big microphone in the form of its news network, Al Jazeera. In recent months, those assets have been used to propel the Arab Spring forward. Qatar has supported rebel movements in Libya and Syria, and is promoting a "Marshall Fund" for Oman, Morocco and Jordan. The country's emir has close, personal relationships with the emerging Islamist leaders from Casablanca to Cairo — and meanwhile provides a home to the largest U.S. military base outside the United States.
All Things Considered host Melissa Block talks with musician Robert Earl Keen for our series Winter Songs, about "Snowin' on Raton," a Townes Van Zandt tune that reminds Keen of a time when things went spectacularly wrong, before going spectacularly right.
Today, police in Los Angeles arrested a man in connection with a string of more than 50 arson fires that have left that city on edge. Most of the fires were set in parked cars, and some spread to carports, garages and apartments. Sam Quinones is following the story for the Los Angeles Times and Sam, what else can you tell us about the man who's under arrest?
After hitting a 30-year low in 2009, U.S. auto sales are poised for a second straight year of growth in 2012 — the result of easier credit, low interest rates and pent-up demand for cars and trucks created by the Great Recession.
The sales forecast bodes well for the industry's continued recovery and for the broader American economy.
Just two years ago, Detroit automakers were in peril. Car sales plunged as unemployment soared, and loans became harder to get. Chrysler and General Motors filed for bankruptcy protection. Ford avoided bankruptcy only by borrowing billions.