Stories by Paul Caine

U of C Paleontologist Explores How an Ancient Fish Came to Walk on Land

An illustration of Tiktaalik by Flick Ford. (Courtesy of the University of Chicago)

Sixteen years after making a key discovery with two colleagues, University of Chicago paleontologist Neil Shubin and others are deepening their understanding of an extraordinary, ancient fish.

5G Could Eventually Transform Our World – But for Now, Think Faster Downloads

(Photo by ROBIN WORRALL / Unsplash)

It’s being rolled out across Chicago with much fanfare, but when will the reality of 5G communication live up to the hype?

House Sends Articles of Impeachment to the Senate

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces the impeachment managers in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. (WTTW News via CNN)

After nearly a month of delay, the House of Representatives voted Wednesday to transmit articles of impeachment for the trial of President Donald Trump to the Senate. We discuss the latest and look ahead.

What’s Behind the Largest Ever One-Year Drop in Cancer Deaths

Blanchfield Army Community Hospital Chief of Mammography and Ultrasound, Maj. Sara Michael, a diagnostic radiologist, reviews a mammogram Oct. 11 to look for any abnormalities in the breast tissue that could require further testing. (Photo Credit: Maria Yager)

The American Cancer Society reported last week the largest ever single-year decline in deaths from cancer. How improved disease screening and breakthrough treatments are giving cancer patients new hope.

Tehran Plane May Have Been Shot Down Mistakenly by Iran

Rescue workers carry the body of a victim of a Ukrainian plane crash in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. (AP Photo / Ebrahim Noroozi)

It’s the latest in a string of tragic news involving Chicago-based Boeing: A 737 jet crashed Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board. We discuss that incident and what the future holds for Boeing with Tracy Rucinski, U.S. aviation correspondent for Reuters.

Impeachment Battle Resumes as Bolton Says He’s Willing to Testify

In this July 31, 2019 file photo, then-national security adviser John Bolton speaks to media at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

After a two-week recess, the battle over President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial has resumed, but former national security adviser John Bolton’s announcement that he would be willing to testify before a Senate trial may have changed the dynamics of the fight.

Iran Mourns Soleimani and Vows Retaliation Against US

Mourners holding posters of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani attend a funeral ceremony for him and his comrades, who were killed in Iraq in a U.S. drone strike on Friday, at the Enqelab-e-Eslami (Islamic Revolution) Square in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. (AP Photo / Ebrahim Noroozi)

President Donald Trump’s decision to assassinate Iran’s top military leader because of an alleged “imminent threat” to U.S. interests is already having major repercussions across the region. What’s next in the U.S.-Iran showdown?

Falling Battery Price Transforms Economics of Green Energy


Could battery-powered electric vehicles soon cost the same as gasoline-powered cars? A senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory explains what could be an energy revolution.

Year in Review: The Top Science Stories of 2019

Using the Event Horizon Telescope, scientists obtained an image of the black hole at the center of galaxy M87, outlined by emission from hot gas swirling around it under the influence of strong gravity near its event horizon. (Credits: Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al.)

From the first-ever image of a black hole to growing concern over climate change, we review some of the year’s top science stories with three of our regular science contributors.

Preckwinkle Pushes Economic Development Plans for South Suburbs

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Monday, Dec. 23, 2019.

Toni Preckwinkle has just entered her 10th year as president of the Cook County Board. She joins us to discuss a new plan to spur economic growth in the south suburbs, questions over her security detail and a longtime political ally.

City Council Committee Votes to Delay Recreational Marijuana Sales in Chicago

(SeaweedJeezus / Pixabay)

The proposal is narrowly approved by a City Council committee, with a full council vote expected Wednesday. Will it pass? We speak with 28th Ward Ald. Jason Ervin, chairman of the Aldermanic Black Caucus, which is leading the initiative.

NASA’s Mission to ‘Touch the Sun’ Begins to Unravel Mysteries of Solar Wind

Prior to its August 2018 launch, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is packed safely inside the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket payload fairing. (Credit: NASA / Bill Ingalls)

An update on the mission and findings of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, named after pioneering University of Chicago astrophysicist Eugene Parker, who first proposed the existence of the solar wind in 1958.

Charlie Beck Takes Charge Following Eddie Johnson’s Ouster

Charlie Beck held his first press conference as interim police superintendent Tuesday, a day after Eddie Johnson was abruptly fired as top cop. What can the city expect from Beck? And what’s next for a department already laboring under a consent decree?

Local Cosmologist Explores the Very First Moments of Creation

Scientist Dan Hooper appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Nov. 25, 2019. (WTTW News)

Dan Hooper spends his time contemplating the biggest mystery of all: how the universe came to be. He joins us to discuss his book, “At the Edge of Time: Exploring the Mysteries of our Universe’s First Seconds.”

‘Silver, Sword and Stone’: Author Writes Sweeping History of Latin America

Peruvian American journalist Marie Arana talks about her new book, “Silver, Sword, and Stone: Three Crucibles in the Latin American Story.”

Slow Start on Reform at the Chicago Police Department

(WTTW News)

An independent federal monitor tasked with overseeing the reform of the Chicago Police Department says the department is already falling behind on its efforts. Is this a sign of growing pains or the sheer difficulty of changing the police department?

The Story of Chicago’s Rise as a Distinctly Polish American City

Polish Constitution Day Parade in Chicago’s Loop, May 2, 2015. The banner reads, in English, “Two homelands, one heart,” expressing the dual nature of Polonia. (Photograph by Dominic Pacyga)

Local historian Dominic Pacyga tells us about his new book “American Warsaw: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of Polish Chicago.”

‘Sesame Street’ Child Specialist Writes How-To Book for Parents

(ePhotographyAustralia / Pixabay)

Rosemarie Truglio, the development specialist behind the curriculum of “Sesame Street” is out with a new book for parents to help their children learn.

World’s Largest Starbucks Set to Open Friday in Chicago

A barista prepares a coffee at a media preview of the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. (WTTW News)

The Reserve Roastery will span five floors and 35,000 square feet on Michigan Avenue, taking up residence in what was for decades Crate & Barrel’s flagship store. We get a preview.

Police Board Prepares Search for Eddie Johnson’s Permanent Replacement

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson announces his retirement during a press conference at police headquarters on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. (WTTW News)

As Chicago’s top cop prepares to retire at the end of the year, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s pick to replace him on an interim basis is already drawing fire. But what about finding Johnson’s long-term replacement? That task falls to the Chicago Police Board.

Tough Challenges Ahead for Chicago’s Next Top Cop

Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she’ll announce her plan to find an interim successor to police Superintendent Eddie Johnson in the coming days. We discuss Johnson’s legacy and the challenges that await the city’s next top cop.

Lightfoot’s Proposed Real Estate Transfer Tax Hike Gets Pushback

(Ken Teegardin / Flickr)

Is the mayor’s plan for a real estate transfer tax hike dead on arrival or could a new so-called win-win compromise supported by some Democratic lawmakers create a path forward?

Driving While Stoned: Police Still Lack Reliable Test

(Pexels / Pixabay)

As the legalization of recreational marijuana approaches, police have no reliable test for whether a person is driving under its influence. What science tells us about marijuana use and safe driving.

In the Zooniverse, Everyone Can Be a Scientist

(picjumbo_com / Pixabay)

In a world in which scientific literacy is often lacking, the online platform is doing what it can to encourage “people-powered research.”

Oriental Institute Unveils Multimillion-Dollar Makeover for Centennial

On the South Side of Chicago is a relatively small but academically renowned museum whose founder James Henry Breasted helped rewrite the history of human civilization. We go for a look.