January 2nd: What's On Today's Show : Blog Of The Nation In the first hour of Talk of the Nation, politics and religion, and the science behind the calendar. In the second hour, what we're learning from twins, and polling in advance of the Republican caucuses in Iowa.
NPR logo January 2nd: What's On Today's Show

January 2nd: What's On Today's Show

In the first hour, Neal Conan talks with NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty about the role of religion in presidential campaigns. iStockphoto.com hide caption

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Politics and Religion
From speeches to political ads, religion is once again a hot-button topic in the presidential campaign. Rick Santorum, a former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, surged to third place in the latest Iowa Poll after a boost from prominent preachers. Texas Governor Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann have ties to Dominionism. Evangelicals have questioned former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich's faith, as he has been married three times and is now a practicing Catholic. And while former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the current frontrunner, many voters express discomfort with the idea of a Mormon president. Neal Conan talks with NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty and John Green of the University of Akron about how a candidate's religious stance affects how people vote, and the role of religion in past presidential campaigns.

Hanke-Henry Calendar
As we begin the new year, millions of Americans throw out their old calendars to make way for new 2012 calendars. But two professors at Johns Hopkins University say that we should get rid of the current, Gregorian calendar altogether. Professors Richard Conn Henry and Steven Hanke have proposed the Hanke-Henry Permanent calendar, which would make holidays consistently fall on a particular day of the week every year by taking the year to 364 days, and then adding an extra week to the calendar every few years. Host Neal Conan speaks with Brandon Keim, associate editor at Wired Science, about the science behind the calendar and why he thinks it isn't a good idea.

What We Can Learn From Twins
When it comes to the battle of nature versus nurture, scientists have long pointed to identical twins to show that genes reign supreme. But now, new studies suggest the influence of another factor, known as epigenetics, which may change how those genes are expressed. National Geographic's Peter Miller joins host Neal Conan to explain what we're learning from twins — both identical and fraternal.

Iowa Politics
With less than 24 hours to the Republican caucuses in Iowa, candidates are making one last-ditch effort to get their message out to voters. Over the weekend the Des Moines Register released the results of the Iowa Poll, calling for a three-way matchup between Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. Host Neal Conan talks with pollster Ann Selzer about the results.