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Sometimes, all you have to hear is a few notes, and you know that a voice has been lived in; you can hear a long life of ups and downs, a rich and weathered sound.

The Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra will have a guest conductor this week: Dennis Prager. He'll conduct Haydn's Symphony No. 51 at an orchestra fundraiser.

In 1958, the guitar riff known as "Rumble" shocked audiences. Its use of distortion and bass made it sound dangerous and transgressive to audiences at the time — and its influence is still heard today. Behind that song was a Native American musician named Link Wray, who went on to inspire legions of rock 'n' roll greats.

You probably have a mental image of what NASA's space missions look like — rockets blasting off into the sky, fiery clouds of exhaust after liftoff — but what do they sound like?

As a new parent, Jack Gilbert got a lot of different advice on how to properly look after his child: when to give him antibiotics or how often he should sterilize his pacifier, for example.

After the birth of his second child, Gilbert, a scientist who studies microbial ecosystems at the University of Chicago, decided to find out what's actually known about the risks involved when modern-day children come in contact with germs.

Alan Alda's father wanted him to become a doctor, but it wasn't meant to be. "I failed chemistry really disastrously ... " Alda says. "I really didn't want to be a doctor; I wanted to be a writer and an actor."

Which is exactly what happened, but Alda didn't leave science behind entirely. His new book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?, is all about communication — and miscommunication — between scientists and civilians.

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