Geoff Brumfiel

Science correspondent Geoff Brumfiel's reports on physics, space, and all things nuclear can be heard across NPR News programs and on NPR.org.

Brumfiel has carried his microphone into ghost villages created by the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. He's tracked the journey of highly enriched uranium as it was shipped out of Poland. For a story on how animals drink, he crouched for over an hour and tried to convince his neighbor's cat to lap a bowl of milk. He became a full-time correspondent in March of 2013.

Prior to NPR, Geoff was based in London as a senior reporter for Nature Magazine from 2007-2013. There he covered energy, space, climate, and the physical sciences. In addition to reporting, he was a member of the award-winning Nature podcast team. From 2002 – 2007, Brumfiel was Nature Magazine's Washington Correspondent, reporting on Congress, the Bush administration, NASA, and the National Science Foundation, as well as the Departments of Energy and Defense.

He began his journalism career working on the American Physical Society's "Focus" website, which is now part of Physics.

Brumfiel is the 2013 winner of the Association of British Science Writers award for news reporting on the Fukushima nuclear accident.

He graduated from Grinnell College with a BA double degree in physics and English, and earned his Masters in science writing from Johns Hopkins University.

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5:31pm

Tue September 2, 2014
The Two-Way

Russian Space Experiment On Gecko Sex Goes Awry

A Russian capsule that housed a gecko space-sex experiment. The geckos all died.
ROSCOSMOS

Space is a dangerous place. That message resonated again on Monday, when the Russian Federal Space Agency β€” Roscosmos β€” announced that a team of experimental geckos tasked with copulating while in orbit did not survive their journey.

"All geckos, unfortunately, died," the space agency said in a terse statement.

Roscosmos is launching an investigation into the exact circumstances surrounding the geckos' deaths, but the mission seemed star-crossed from the start.

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10:15am

Fri August 22, 2014
The Two-Way

Scientists Searching For Alien Air Pollution

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 1:18 pm

In this artist's conception, the atmosphere of an Earthlike planet displays a brownish haze Ҁ” the result of widespread pollution.
Christine Pulliam Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Air pollution is clogging the skies of our planet. Now one scientist thinks Earth may be just one of many polluted worlds β€” and that searching for extraterrestrial smog may actually be a good way to search for alien intelligence.

"People refer to 'little green men,' but ETs that are detected by this method should not be labeled as green," says Avi Loeb, an astronomer at Harvard University.

The idea of finding alien polluters may be a bit of a long shot, but Loeb says it's possible.

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2:16pm

Tue August 19, 2014
Middle East

A Milestone Marked In Disposal Of Syria's Chemical Weapons

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 5:38 pm

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

12:15pm

Thu August 14, 2014
The Two-Way

Do Not Fear This Giant Robot Swarm

Originally published on Fri August 15, 2014 5:46 am

These 1024 "kilobots" can shuffle into any shape their creator desires. Each robot is a little bigger than a quarter, standing on three little metal legs that vibrate to make it move.
Courtesy of Michael Rubenstein

Harvard roboticist Mike Rubenstein thought he was being clever when he came up with the name for the 1,024 little robots he built. He's into computers, so he thought of kilobytes and named them kilobots.

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2:23pm

Wed August 13, 2014
News

After 78 Years, A First: Math Prize Celebrates Work Of A Woman

Originally published on Wed August 13, 2014 7:14 pm

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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3:09pm

Tue August 5, 2014
The Two-Way

In Quest To Harpoon A Comet, A Spacecraft Stalks Its Prey

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 7:47 am

The Rosetta spacecraft took this image of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 4 August 2014 from a distance of just 145 miles.
ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Tomorrow morning, a European space probe will arrive at a comet with a tongue-twister of a name: Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Getting there has been proven even trickier than pronouncing it.

The Rosetta spacecraft began its journey way back in March of 2004.

First it swung past Earth to gather speed. Then it catapulted out to Mars, for a boost from that planet's gravity field. Then in 2007, it came back to Earth for another push β€” then back out to an asteroid, and back to Earth.

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4:36pm

Mon August 4, 2014
The Two-Way

After A Decade, Comet-Chasing Spacecraft Nearly There

Originally published on Mon August 4, 2014 11:43 pm

The Rosetta Spacecraft is within 186 miles of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, less than the distance from New York to Boston.
ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

It's been a long journey, but it's nearly over. On Wednesday, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft will finally arrive at the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Humans have sent spacecraft hurtling past comets before, but Rosetta is doing something very different. It's sidling up next to 67P to join the big, dirty ice ball on its journey past the sun.

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7:48am

Thu July 31, 2014
The Salt

How To Order Pizza From A Nuclear Command Bunker

Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 10:34 am

Getting a pizza delivered to a remote nuclear missle base is tricky. Unfortunately, the Air Force won't let you use its helicopters.
Dan Gage/USAF

I spent months working with the U.S. Air Force to get access to a remote underground nuclear bunker in Nebraska for our radio series on America's missile forces. There was only one question left to answer before I left.

What did I want for lunch?

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1:48pm

Tue July 29, 2014
National Security

Welcome To The Nuclear Command Bunker

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 10:35 am

Lt. Raj Bansal and Capt. Joseph Shannon (right) approach Foxtrot-01, a remote nuclear missile base in Nebraska.
Geoffrey Brumfiel NPR

The stretch of Interstate 80 between Cheyenne, Wyo., and Lincoln, Neb., is straight and flat. High plains stretch out on either side.

But scattered along this unremarkable road, the Air Force keeps some of its most powerful weapons β€” Minuteman III nuclear missiles.

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11:19am

Mon July 28, 2014
National Security

To Stop Cheating, Nuclear Officers Ditch The Grades

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 7:54 am

First Lt. Patrick Romanofski (center) and 2nd Lt. Andrew Beckner (left) practice the launch of nuclear weapons. Promotions are now more strongly influenced by hands-on performance in this simulator.
R.J. Oriez U.S. Air Force

The young officers at F.E. Warren Air Force Base have an enormous job: to keep 150 nuclear-tipped missiles ready to launch at a moment's notice.

Understandably, they're expected to know exactly what they're doing.

Three times a month, they're tested on the weapons and the codes used to launch them. Anything less than 90 percent is a fail.

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2:53pm

Thu July 17, 2014
News

What Brought Down The Malaysian Airliner?

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 6:40 pm

Shortly after news broke that a Malaysia Airlines flight crashed in eastern Ukraine, suspicions began to swirl that the plane had been shot down. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel speaks with Audie Cornish about the feasibility that a missile brought down the airliner.

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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1:34am

Thu July 17, 2014
The Two-Way

Physicists Crush Diamonds With Giant Laser

Originally published on Sun August 3, 2014 6:20 am

Physicists put diamonds at the center of this massive laser, to see what would happen.
Matt Swisher Matt Swisher/LLNL

Physicists have used the world's most powerful laser to zap diamonds. The results, they say, could tell us more about the cores of giant planets.

"Diamonds have very special properties, besides being very expensive and used for jewelrey etc.," says Raymond Smith, a researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. "It's the hardest substance known to man."

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3:14pm

Tue July 8, 2014
Science

In A Lab Store Room, An Unsettling Surprise: Lost Vials Of Smallpox

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 4:13 pm

Scientists at the National Institutes of Health made an unpleasant discovery last week as they cleaned out an old laboratory: The lab contained vials of the smallpox virus, previously unknown to authorities. The vials have since been transferred to a secure lab at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

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3:21am

Tue July 1, 2014
Space

Carbon Observatory To Monitor Greenhouse Gas From Space

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 4:32 am

NASA is preparing to launch a new satellite to observe carbon dioxide from space. The satellite could revolutionize our understanding of where this greenhouse gas comes from and where it goes.

2:16pm

Mon June 30, 2014
The Two-Way

Carbon-Sensing Satellite Prepares For Second Launch

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 12:27 pm

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 will monitor carbon dioxide emissions.
jhoward NASA/JPL

NASA is preparing to launch a satellite capable of monitoring carbon dioxide emissions from space. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) will be the first U.S. spacecraft dedicated to seeing the greenhouse gas from orbit, and could pave the way for new technology to enforce future global warming treaties.

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2:07pm

Mon June 23, 2014
Middle East

World's Chemical Weapons Watchdog Clears Syria

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 6:07 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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3:35pm

Fri June 20, 2014
The Two-Way

Dust Clouds Big Bang Signal

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 6:25 pm

The BICEP2 telescope in Antarctica was looking for ripples from the Big Bang.
Robert Schwarz, University of Minnesota

In March, a team of physicists announced it had found a signal from the very first moments after the Big Bang. But in a paper published Thursday, the researchers expressed considerably more caution and conceded that they could have actually been detecting little more than interstellar dust.

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1:38am

Fri June 20, 2014
The Two-Way

Scientists Keep A Careful Eye On The World Cup Ball

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 6:45 am

A close up of the Brazuca ball in NASA's Ames Fluid Mechanics Laboratory. Smoke highlighted by lasers visualizes air flow around the ball.
NASA's Ames Research Center

While many millions are enjoying the drama of the World Cup, a handful of scientists are keeping their eyes very closely on the ball.

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2:13pm

Tue June 10, 2014
Science

Bye-Bye To The Home Of A Favorite Internet Conspiracy Theory

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 7:05 pm

The remote HAARP facility in Alaska has 180 antennas that are used to study the ionosphere.
Courtesy of Christopher Fallen

It sure looks suspicious: a remote military compound in the south-central Alaskan wilderness filled with 180 weird-looking antennas.

It's the home of the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP). Conspiracy theorists have accused the program of doing everything from mind control to global communications jamming.

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2:38pm

Fri May 30, 2014
The Two-Way

SpaceX Unveils A Sleek New Ride To Orbit

SpaceX's new crew capsule was unveiled yesterday.
SpaceX

Yesterday, entrepreneur Elon Musk sauntered on to stage and unveiled his latest product: not a smart phone, but a spaceship.

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