David Kestenbaum

David Kestenbaum is a correspondent for NPR, covering science, energy issues and, most recently, the global economy for NPR's multimedia project Planet Money. David has been a science correspondent for NPR since 1999. He came to journalism the usual way — by getting a Ph.D. in physics first.

In his years at NPR, David has covered science's discoveries and its darker side, including the Northeast blackout, the anthrax attacks and the collapse of the New Orleans levees. He has also reported on energy issues, particularly nuclear and climate change.

David has won awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

David worked briefly on the show This American Life, and set up a radio journalism program in Cambodia on a Fulbright fellowship. He also teaches a journalism class at Johns Hopkins University.

David holds a bachelor's of science degree in physics from Yale University and a doctorate in physics from Harvard University.

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3:12am

Thu June 12, 2014
Planet Money

Volatility Index Indicates Wall Street Is Bored

Originally published on Thu June 12, 2014 7:40 am

An economic indicator commonly called the VIX, volatility index, is also known as the fear index. Whatever you call it, the index is hitting lows not seen since before the financial crisis.

4:08pm

Thu June 5, 2014
Planet Money

Why A Pack Of Peanut Butter M&M's Weighs A Tiny Bit Less Than A Regular Pack

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 3:03 pm

Peanut Butter M&M's are larger and more irregular than standard M&M's.
Quoctrung Bui/NPR

The other day I went down to the little shop in the lobby of our building for a snack. I couldn't decide whether I wanted regular M&M's or Peanut Butter M&M's so I bought them both. On the way back upstairs to the office, I noticed something strange on the labels. Each had cost $1, but the pack of Peanut Butter M&M's was a very tiny bit lighter: 0.06 ounces lighter!

I wanted to know why, so I called a couple of experts and asked for their theories:

Theory No. 1: Peanut Butter M&M's are more expensive to make.

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3:05am

Thu May 22, 2014
Planet Money

On The Internet, A Penny Is Nothing To Sneeze At

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 7:18 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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2:44pm

Fri May 2, 2014
Economy

In 4,000 Years, One Thing Hasn't Changed: It Takes Time To Buy Light

Originally published on Sat May 3, 2014 9:17 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And now, 4,000 years of economic growth in seven minutes. This story comes, of course, from our Planet Money team. David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein bring us the history of light and how the world came what it is today.

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2:59am

Fri April 4, 2014
Planet Money

New Web Addresses Provide Alternatives To Crowded Domains

Originally published on Fri April 4, 2014 6:22 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On a Friday it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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4:00pm

Thu March 6, 2014
Planet Money

Does Raising The Minimum Wage Kill Jobs?

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 5:50 pm

Kenzo Tribouillard AFP/Getty Images

President Obama has called for increasing the minimum wage, saying it will help some of the poorest Americans. Opponents argue that a higher minimum wage will lead employers to cut jobs.

Figuring out the effect of raising the minimum wage is tough. Ideally you'd like to compare one universe where the minimum was raised against an alternate universe where it remained fixed.

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1:39am

Fri January 17, 2014
Planet Money

The Birth Of The Minimum Wage In America

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 2:46 pm

Franklin D. Roosevelt Libarary

In 1895, legislators in New York state decided to improve working conditions in what at the time could be a deadly profession: baking bread.

"Bakeries are actually extremely dangerous places to work," says Eric Rauchway, a historian at the University of California, Davis. "Because flour is such a fine particulate, if it gets to hang in the air it can catch fire and the whole room can go up in a sheet of flame."

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10:00am

Thu January 2, 2014
Planet Money

A Bet, Five Metals And The Future Of The Planet

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 9:24 am

James Cridland Flickr

This famous bet — between a biologist and an economist — was over population growth. It started three decades ago, but it helped set the tone for environmental debates that are still happening today.

The biologist at the heart of this bet was Paul Ehrlich at Stanford. He wrote a best-selling book in 1968 called The Population Bomb. It was so popular he appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

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12:44pm

Wed December 11, 2013
Planet Money

We Found This 20-Year-Old T-Shirt In Kenya. The Internet Found The Original Owner

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 10:46 pm

Tshirt
Quoctrung Bui

We recently published a story about how used clothes that get donated in the U.S. often wind up for sale in markets in Africa. As part of the story, we published some photos of used T-shirts we found in a couple of markets in Kenya.

One shirt in particular caught our eye:

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1:00am

Fri November 22, 2013
Planet Money

A Bitcoin Insider On Crime, Congress And Satoshi Nakamoto

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 9:48 am

This is not a bitcoin.
eagleapex's posterous Flickr

For more on what Bitcoin is and how it works, see our story "What Is Bitcoin?"

Gavin Andresen is chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation. I first talked with him about Bitcoin, the virtual currency, back in 2011. I checked back in with him this week, because so much has been going on with Bitcoin lately.

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1:06am

Fri November 15, 2013
Planet Money

What's A Bubble?

Originally published on Sun November 17, 2013 11:58 am

Robert Shiller and Eugene Fama shared this year's Nobel Memorial Prize.
AP

Robert Shiller was surprised when he got the call telling him he'd won the Nobel Memorial Prize in economics — surprised that he'd won (of course), but also surprised that he was sharing the award with Eugene Fama.

"He and I seem to have very different views," Shiller told me. "It's like we're different religions."

In particular, they have very different views about economic bubbles.

"The word 'bubble' drives me nuts, frankly," Fama told me.

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1:29am

Fri October 25, 2013
Planet Money

What Happens When You Just Give Money To Poor People?

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 8:34 am

Bernard Omondi got $1,000 from GiveDirectly.
Jacob Goldstein NPR

For more of our reporting on this story, please see our work in The New York Times Magazine and on This American Life.

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1:26am

Fri October 18, 2013
Planet Money

I Lent $999.78 To The Federal Government*

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 11:29 am

NPR

Earlier this week, I bought a Treasury bill.

Everybody calls Treasury bills T-bills, and they work like this: The government promises to pay holders of T-bills a specific amount on a specific day in the near future. For the T-bill I bought, the government promised to pay $1,000 on Oct. 31.

I bought the T-bill on Tuesday, before Congress had made the debt-ceiling deal, so it was unclear whether I would get paid back on time.

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1:00am

Thu October 10, 2013
Planet Money

What A U.S. Default Would Mean For Pensions, China And Social Security

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 10:38 am

iStockphoto.com

What would happen if Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling and the U.S. defaults on its debt later this month? The broad economic implications are unpredictable, but a default could cause huge trouble for the global economy.

But whatever happens to the global economy, one thing is clear: People all over the world who have loaned the U.S. government money won't get paid on time.

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12:42pm

Tue October 8, 2013
The Two-Way

An Aerogramme From Professor Higgs, Nobel Winner

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 4:02 pm

Letter from Peter Higgs
David Kestenbaum NPR

Well, it's happened. British scientist Peter Higgs has won a Nobel Prize for proposing the Higgs boson particle as part of a mechanism that explains how things in the universe came to have mass.

Higgs seems to be lying low today so far — a colleague told The New York Times that Higgs had "gone off by himself for a few days without saying where" and that a reporter seeking an interview recently had been "sent away with a flea in his ear."

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1:36am

Mon September 30, 2013
Planet Money

One Key Thing No One Knows About Obamacare

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 5:44 am

Getty Images

Tuesday is a big day for Obamacare. The online marketplaces where people can shop for health insurance are supposed to open for business.

No one really knows who is going to sign up — not the Obama administration, not the insurance industry, not the president's critics. Yet the success of the law hangs on this question: Will the right mix of people sign up? In particular, will healthy people buy health insurance?

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1:21am

Mon September 2, 2013
Planet Money

Ecuador To World: Pay Up To Save The Rainforest. World To Ecuador: Meh.

Originally published on Mon September 2, 2013 5:04 pm

An aerial view of the Yasuni National Park, in Ecuador's northeastern jungle.
Dolores Ochoa AP

The government of Ecuador has abandoned a plan that would have kept part of the Amazonian rainforest off limits to oil drilling. The initiative was an unusual one: Ecuador was promising to keep the oil in the ground, but it wanted to be paid for doing so.

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3:01pm

Fri August 23, 2013
Planet Money

Cash, Cows And The Rise Of Nerd Philanthropy

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 7:12 pm

A family in western Kenya received this cow as part of a Heifer International program.
NPR

For more of our reporting on this story, please see our recent column in the New York Times Magazine, and the latest episode of This American Life.

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1:24am

Fri August 23, 2013
Planet Money

The Charity That Just Gives Money To Poor People

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 11:41 am

Bernard Omondi got $1,000 from GiveDirectly.
Jacob Goldstein NPR

For more of our reporting on this story, please see our recent column in the New York Times Magazine, and the latest episode of This American Life.

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2:26pm

Tue July 30, 2013
NPR Story

Better Accounting Will Boost U.S. GDP

Originally published on Tue July 30, 2013 3:32 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The size of the U.S. economy will be getting a bump tomorrow. That's when the latest gross domestic product statistics come out. The number will be larger, not because our exports have improved or because of new jobs, it's because of an accounting change. David Kestenbaum with our Planet Money Team explains.

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