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.

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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Patients with Type-1 diabetes don't have enough healthy islets of Langerhans cells — hormone-secreting cells of the pancreas. Granules inside these cells release insulin and other substances into the blood. Steve Gschmeissner/Science Source hide caption

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Steve Gschmeissner/Science Source

A Quest: Insulin-Releasing Implant For Type-1 Diabetes

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Nobel Committee for Physics members announce the 2017 Nobel Prize winners at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm. The laureates are (from left) Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne. Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

They Proved Einstein Right; Now They've Won The 2017 Physics Nobel Prize

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