Joe's Big Idea Joe's Big Idea is a new project by NPR Science Correspondent Joe Palca that examines where scientists' big ideas come from, how they pursue those ideas and how something goes from an idea to a discovery.

Global map of Mars showing a growing dust storm as of June 6, 2018. The map was produced by the Mars Color Imager (MARCI) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS hide caption

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NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Giant Dust Storm On Mars Threatening To End NASA's Opportunity Rover

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Two rock samples taken by NASA's Curiosity rover were found to contain organic molecules. NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS hide caption

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NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds Chemical Building Blocks For Life On Mars

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Detectors inside MiniBooNE experiment Courtesy Fermilab hide caption

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Courtesy Fermilab

Physicists Say They Have Evidence For A New Fundamental Particle

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This red blood cell is swollen by the malaria parasite. In this image from a transmission electron micrograph, the blood cell has been colored red and the single-cell malaria parasite has been colored green. Dr. Tony Brain/Science Source hide caption

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Dr. Tony Brain/Science Source

How A Cheap Magnet Might Help Detect Malaria

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This is an artist's concept of a plume of water vapor thought to be ejected off of the frigid, icy surface of the Jovian moon Europa, located 500 million miles from the sun. NASA, ESA, and K. Retherford hide caption

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NASA, ESA, and K. Retherford

Icy Moon Of Jupiter Spews Water Plumes Into Space

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An artist's rendition of NASA's InSight lander, which is expected to launch on Saturday morning. InSight will monitor the Red Planet's seismic activity and internal temperature. NASA/JPL-CalTech hide caption

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NASA/JPL-CalTech

NASA Is Heading Back To Mars To Peer Inside The Red Planet

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An image from an electron microscope shows a type II alveolar cell, found in the air sacs of lungs. In the cell's cytoplasm (pink) are lamellar bodies (purple), which contain surfactant. SPL/Science Source hide caption

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SPL/Science Source

Experimental Lung Treatment Could Make Breathing Easier

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First responders in the Marina District disaster zone after an earthquake on October 17, 1989 in San Francisco, Calif. Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images hide caption

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Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Betting On Artificial Intelligence To Guide Earthquake Response

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Somewhat random numbers Joe Palca/NPR hide caption

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Joe Palca/NPR

Really Random Numbers

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Lockheed Martin's Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) concept's unique design would allow it to separate the shocks and expansions associated with supersonic flight, resulting in a soft thump rather than a disruptive bang. Courtesy Lockheed Martin hide caption

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Courtesy Lockheed Martin

NASA Hopes Supersonic X Plane Will Deliver Less Bang For The Buck

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This artist's-concept illustration depicts NASA's Psyche spacecraft which will carry a deep-space laser communications system. JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin/NASA hide caption

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JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin/NASA

Live High Definition Video From Mars? NASA Is Getting Ready

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Stephen Hawking smiles during a symposium in honor of his birthday at the University of Cambridge Jan. 11, 2002 in Cambridge, England. Hawking turned 60-years-old on Jan. 8, 2002 and is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a post once held by Sir Isaac Newton. Sion Touhig/Getty Images hide caption

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Sion Touhig/Getty Images

Stephen Hawking, Who Awed Both Scientists And The Public, Dies

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This is a sample photo taken with the 1-megapixel Quanta Image Sensor. Instead of pixels, QIS chips have what researchers call "jots." Each jot can detect a single particle of light. Jiaju Ma hide caption

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Jiaju Ma

Super Sensitive Sensor Sees What You Can't

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Engineers next to NASA's James Webb Space Telescope at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Chris Gunn/NASA hide caption

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Chris Gunn/NASA

How To Pack A Space Telescope

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Sam Rowe for NPR

Can Computers Learn Like Humans?

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This 1793 grave is an early version of the kilogram. It is possible this object, now owned by the National Institute of Standards and Technology museum, was once pirate treasure. NIST Museum hide caption

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NIST Museum

How Pirates Of The Caribbean Hijacked America's Metric System

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Ehud Nakar (Tel Aviv), Ore Gottlieb (Tel Aviv), Leo Singer (NASA), Mansi Kasliwal (Caltech), and the GROWTH collaboration YouTube

WATCH: What Happens When 2 Neutron Stars Collide

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A technician examines the mirror on the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. Scientists at two national laboratories are currently building the components for an enormous digital camera that will capture images from the telescope. Joe McNally/Getty Images hide caption

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Joe McNally/Getty Images

The Largest Digital Camera In The World Takes Shape

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