Stories by Paul Caine

50 Years After Moon Landing, Billionaires Back Grandiose Visions for Space

An artist’s concept of an O’Neill cylinder. (Courtesy Blue Origin)

Could Jeff Bezos’ vision of giant rotating habitats one day support millions of people in space? We speak with two experts about humankind’s future in space. 

Chicago Life Expectancy Gap Driven by Race, Segregation, Says Researcher

Chicago has the largest life expectancy gap of any big city in America. We speak with a researcher who says that while “there’s no easy answer” to the disparity, the city’s high degree of racial segregation clearly plays a role.

New Film ‘Cooked’ Revisits Chicago’s Deadly 1995 Heat Wave

(Pranav Bhatt / Flickr)

A new documentary from Chicago’s Kartemquin Films revisits an extreme weather event that killed more than 700 people – most of them poor and black. We discuss “Cooked: Survival by Zip Code” with producer Fenell Doremus.

Chicago Defender Ends 114-Year Print Run, Goes Online Only

(A screenshot from

It’s the end of an era for the iconic black-owned newspaper that has told the stories of black America since 1905. Is there a future for The Defender – and black media in general – in this time of shrinking newsrooms?

Climate Scientist Swaps NASA for School of the Art Institute

(Credit: Noa Vigny Billick)

Meet Dr. Mika Tosca, a scientist who traded a job at NASA’s renowned Jet Propulsion Lab to teach climate science to art and design students in Chicago.

Self-Focusing Glasses and Other News from the World of Science

(Courtesy Stanford University)

Could futuristic-looking headware ultimately lead to self-focusing glasses? Rabiah Mayas returns with a roundup of the latest science news.

Supreme Court Gives Green Light to Gerrymandering. Now What?

Illinois’ oddly shaped 4th Congressional District. (WTTW News)

As states prepare to draw new election boundaries after the 2020 census, what can be done to ensure those maps give equal weight to all votes? Behind the practice of gerrymandering and the movement to curb it.

Historian Rick Atkinson Tells Gripping Story of America’s Founding

Rick Atkinson appears on “Chicago Tonight.”

Award-winning historian and former journalist Rick Atkinson spent 15 years researching and writing his highly acclaimed World War II Liberation Trilogy books. With “The British Are Coming,” he turns his gaze to the Revolution.

Neil Shubin on Coyotes, Dog Stress and More from the World of Science

(skeeze / Pixabay)

The University of Chicago paleontologist takes us behind some of the most recent science stories making headlines.

Some Gardens Thriving Despite Cold, Near-Record Rainfall

Near-record rainfall has left many farms and gardens underwater, but some area gardens – including our WTTW organic garden – appear to be thriving. Organic gardener Jeanne Nolan explains why.

Pritzker Announces Help for Flood-Hit Farmers, Aims for Emergency Declaration

(Courtesy Illinois Farm Bureau)

Much of Illinois’ farmland is too wet to seed. Assessing the fallout from excessive rain – and what Gov. J.B. Pritzker plans to do about it.

Illinois’ Gaming Expansion Could Be a Losing Bet for Problem Gamblers

(babilkulesi / Pixabay)

As Illinois prepares to expand gambling to every corner of the state – including slot machines at O’Hare and Midway airports – supporters tout the generation of much-needed revenue to help plug a massive budget deficit. But at what cost?

Remembering Tiananmen Square, 30 Years Later

A May 1988 photo of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. (Derzsi Elekes Andor / Wikimedia Commons)

Early on the morning of June 4, 1989, tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square to forcefully suppress protests by students and ordinary citizens who had occupied Beijing’s central square for six weeks. We look back at the events.

Burke Indictment Highlights City Hall Power Shift

“First and foremost, I’m not trying to be the organizer of a resistance against the mayor,” Ald. Raymond Lopez said Wednesday following the first City Council meeting presided over by new Mayor Lori Lightfoot. (WTTW News)

Four Chicago aldermen weigh in on the new power dynamics at City Hall as Mayor Lori Lightfoot takes control – and a longtime alderman is indicted.

How to Plant Your Own Salsa Garden

Organic gardener Jeanne Nolan shares tips and advice for growing warm-weather crops like jalapeno and serrano peppers, green tomatillo and tomatoes.

UChicago Creates Molecular Engineering School with $100M Donation

University of Chicago researcher David D. Awschalom in his lab with Ph.D. students Kevin Miao, left, and Alexandre Bourassa, on Oct. 15, 2018. (Photo by Jean Lachat)

The Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering will become the university’s first new school in three decades, thanks to a $100 million commitment from the Pritzker Foundation.

SAT ‘Adversity Score’ Draws Praise and Criticism


SAT scores may soon come with an “adversity score” to measure the challenges a student faces in just trying to get to college. We weigh the pros and cons.

Northwestern Researchers Reverse Age-Related Memory Loss

(Courtesy Northwestern University)

Neil Shubin, University of Chicago paleontologist and one of our favorite explainers of all things scientific, joins us to discuss stories making news in the world of science.

Pritzker Makes Push for Legal Sports Betting

In this Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018, file photo, gamblers place bets in the temporary sports betting area at the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia. (AP Photo / Matt Rourke, File)

Will a sports betting plan cross the finish line in Illinois? Gov. J.B. Pritzker supports it, and plans are being negotiated in Springfield to expand gambling in the state.

State Lawmakers Press Gov. Pritzker to Support South Suburban Airport

A group of elected state and local officials signed a letter earlier this month urging Gov. J.B. Pritzker to back a third northeastern Illinois airport near Monee. 

Astronomers May Have Detected Neutron Star Being Consumed by Black Hole

An artist’s illustration of two colliding neutron stars. (Credit: Dana Berry / Swift / NASA)

If the discovery is confirmed, it would be the first evidence that black holes and neutron stars can pair up to form binary systems.

Developer Seeking State Funds for Transit Hub in One Central Megaproject

A rendering of One Central (Courtesy Landmark Development)

A proposed new development just west of Soldier Field is seeking major state subsidies. Meet the developer and the local alderman – and hear about the plans for One Central.

In ‘Red Meat Republic,’ the Story of How Beef Made Chicago and Changed America

(Pexels / Pixabay)

Chicago’s connections to the meat processing industry are well known, but the beef industry didn’t just spur the city’s development. In a new book, historian Joshua Specht says the beef industry helped shape modern America itself.

Illinois Inches Closer to a Graduated Income Tax

“This amendment will … let us adopt a system that is more fair to the middle class,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at a press conference in Springfield on Tuesday, April 9, 2019.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker says allowing the state to tax richer people at a higher rate is the only way to return financial stability to Illinois. We speak with supporters and opponents of the governor’s top legislative priority.

Cold-Tolerant Crops a Safe Choice for Spring Planting

Unseasonably cold weather in Chicago has delayed the start of spring – at least in terms of planting, says organic gardener Jeanne Nolan. Here are some tips for your spring crops.