Christopher Intagliata

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Simone Biles, already the most decorated gymnast in history, has surpassed expectations again. On Saturday, she performed a move considered so dangerous that no other woman has ever attempted it in competition.

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This story is part of an NPR series, We Hold These Truths, on American democracy.

Last summer, DonnaLee Norrington had a dream about owning a home. Not the figurative kind, but a literal dream, as she slept in the rental studio apartment in South Los Angeles that she was sharing with a friend.

At around 2 a.m., Norrington remembers, "God said to me, 'Why don't you get a mortgage that doesn't move?' And in my head I knew that meant a fixed mortgage."

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A recent study of mummified parrots found in a high-altitude desert region in South America suggests to researchers that, as far back as some 900 years ago, people went to arduous lengths to transport the prized birds across vast and complex trade routes.

The remains of more than two dozen scarlet macaws and Amazon parrots were found at five different sites in northern Chile's arid Atacama Desert — far from their home in the Amazon rainforest.

So how did they get there?

Scientists are inching one step closer toward redefining the length of a second.

To do that, they're using atomic clocks.

Atomic clocks, which look like a jumble of lasers and wires, work by tapping into the natural oscillation of atoms, with each atom "ticking" at a different speed.

Modern conveniences including cellphones, the Internet and GPS are all made possible through the ticking of atomic clocks.

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