Robert Krulwich

Robert Krulwich works on radio, podcasts, video, the blogosphere. He has been called "the most inventive network reporter in television" by TV Guide.

Krulwich is a Science Correspondent for NPR. His NPR blog, "Krulwich Wonders" features drawings, cartoons and videos that illustrate hard-to-see concepts in science.

He is the co-host of Radiolab, a nationally distributed radio/podcast series that explores new developments in science for people who are curious but not usually drawn to science shows. "There's nothing like it on the radio," says Ira Glass of This American Life, "It's a act of crazy genius." Radiolab won a Peabody Award in 2011.

His specialty is explaining complex subjects, science, technology, economics, in a style that is clear, compelling and entertaining. On television he has explored the structure of DNA using a banana; on radio he created an Italian opera, "Ratto Interesso" to explain how the Federal Reserve regulates interest rates; he has pioneered the use of new animation on ABC's Nightline and World News Tonight.

For 22 years, Krulwich was a science, economics, general assignment and foreign correspondent at ABC and CBS News.

He won Emmy awards for a cultural history of the Barbie doll, for a Frontline investigation of computers and privacy, a George Polk and Emmy for a look at the Savings & Loan bailout online advertising and the 2010 Essay Prize from the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

Krulwich earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Oberlin College and a law degree from Columbia University.

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8:00am

Wed September 19, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

U.S. Explodes Atomic Bombs Near Beers To See If They Are Safe To Drink

Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 2:34 pm

National Technical Information Service via Alex Wellerstein

So you're minding your own business when all of a sudden, a nuclear bomb goes off, there's a shock wave, fires all around, general destruction and you, having somehow survived, need a drink. What can you do? There is no running water, not where you are. But there is a convenience store. It's been crushed by the shock wave, but there are still bottles of beer, Coke and diet soda intact on the floor.

So you wonder: Can I grab one of those beers and gulp it down? Or is it too radioactive? And what about taste? If I drink it, will it taste OK?

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9:58am

Fri September 7, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

Volcano Shoots Geyser Of Water Up Into Space

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 9:53 am

Michael Benson

What we have here is a moon — a small one (slightly wider than the state of Arizona) — circling Saturn.

If you look closely, you will see a small splay of light at its top, looking like a circular fountain.

That's because it is a fountain — of sorts. A bunch of volcano-like jets are sending fantastically high geysers of water vapor up into the sky, so high that you can see them in this remarkable print by Michael Benson, back lit by light bouncing off of Saturn.

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6:39am

Wed September 5, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

What's With Frosty? Why Isn't He Showing Up On Time?

Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 6:57 am

iStockphoto.com

Check out this graph of America's "Growing Season" — it measures the number of continuous days and nights when it never gets below 32 degrees. You could call this our "frost-free" time of year. In many places, the frost-free season begins in the spring and ends somewhere in October.

As you can see, over the 20th century, it's been staying frost-free longer...and longer...and longer...

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10:10am

Tue July 24, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

Which Is Bigger: A Human Brain Or The Universe?

Originally published on Tue July 24, 2012 11:46 am

Robert Krulwich NPR

This is one of those fun-to-think-about questions. A brain isn't much to look at, after all. It's about the size of your two fists put together, three pounds to hold, but oh my, what it can do.

With our brains, we can think backwards, imagine forwards, conjure, create things that don't exist, leap vast distances. For example, suppose I say to you, close your eyes and imagine this:

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8:45am

Tue July 17, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

Five Men Agree To Stand Directly Under An Exploding Nuclear Bomb

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 12:23 pm

Atom Central/YouTube

10:13pm

Sat July 7, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

Weekend Special: Guess What? Sweat Is Not Smelly! (So Why Do I Smell?)

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 11:28 am

The Chemical Heritage Foundation via YouTube

It's hot today. Really, really, hot; over a 100 degrees Fahrenheit hot, and so I'm sweating.

Sweating is what we people do to cool off, which is good. But sweating is also what makes me ... what's the word? Odoriferous. (Latinate for stinky, which is not so good.)

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11:41am

Tue July 3, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

Showing Vultures A Little Love

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 10:32 am

iStockphoto.com

Think of a giraffe lying on the Serengeti plain. He has just died, maybe of disease, maybe he was killed by a pride of lions, but now he's a 19-foot-long, 4,000-pound mound of meat, which very soon is going to stink and rot and muck up the neighborhood.

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9:08am

Mon April 2, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

To Map Or Not To Map The Brain? That's Tonight's Question

Originally published on Mon April 2, 2012 10:35 am

Thomas Deerinck and Mark Ellisman Portraits of the Mind

"Mind is such an odd predicament for matter to get into," says the poet Diane Ackerman. "If a mind is just a few pounds of blood, dream and electric, how does it manage to contemplate itself? Worry about its soul? Do time and motion studies? Admire the shy hooves of a goat? Know that it will die?

...How can a neuron feel compassion?"

Yes, how?

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11:14am

Fri March 30, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

Neuroscientists Battle Furiously Over Jennifer Aniston

Originally published on Fri March 30, 2012 1:54 pm

Stephen Lovekin, Carlos Alvarez, Kevin Winter Getty Images

Think of Jennifer, or as we like to call her, "Jen." Jen of the dazzling smile, Jen of the gorgeous chin, Jen with her hair down, Jen tousled, Jen as Rachel, Jen with Brad; Jen without Brad, Jen with Vince, Jen at the Oscars, and, of course, Jen as a neuron in the medial part of the temporal lobe.

Maybe you missed that last Jen.

A few years ago, a UCLA neurosurgeon named Itzhak Fried, while operating on patients who suffer from debilitating epileptic seizures, discovered what he now calls the "Jennifer Aniston Neuron."

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7:59am

Wed March 28, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

How To Spot A Mimic Octopus — The Mystery Revealed

Originally published on Wed March 28, 2012 10:02 am

xkcd

In my last post, I wondered: How did Asian fishermen manage to discover the mimic octopus? Thaumoctopus mimicus is a wildly talented cephalopod that lives in shallow waters off Indonesia and Malaysia.

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8:10am

Wed February 29, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

Six-Legged Giant Finds Secret Hideaway, Hides for 80 Years

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 8:07 am

John White

No, this isn't a make-believe place. It's real.

They call it "Ball's Pyramid." It's what's left of an old volcano that emerged from the sea about 7 million years ago. A British naval officer named Ball was the first European to see it in 1788. It sits off Australia, in the South Pacific. It is extremely narrow, 1,844 feet high, and it sits alone.

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11:30am

Mon October 31, 2011
Krulwich Wonders...

Who Left A Tree, Then A Coffin In The Library?

Originally published on Tue December 6, 2011 1:35 pm

Chris Scott flickr

Update: The Library Phantom Returns! See Part 2 of the mystery.

It started suddenly. Without warning.

Last spring, Julie Johnstone, a librarian at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh, was wandering through a reading room when she saw, sitting alone on a random table, a little tree.

It was made of twisted paper and was mounted on a book.

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10:01pm

Tue September 27, 2011
Krulwich Wonders...

Wanna Live Forever? Become A Noun

Adam Cole NPR

Adam: When I say "Henry Shrapnel, Jules Leotard, Robert Bunsen," you think — what?
Me: That they're inventors?
Adam: No. Better than that. Each one has become immortal. They're nouns!
Me: Is that a good thing, becoming a noun? ...
Adam: Are you kidding? It's a wonderful thing. A thing to sing about.
Me: You're going to sing?
Adam: If I may ...

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10:01pm

Sun September 18, 2011
Krulwich Wonders...

Lucretius, Man of Modern Mystery

Lucretius, circa 55 B.C.
Spencer Arnold Getty Images

Before he became a Professor of literature at Harvard, and way before he wrote his classic Shakespeare biography, Will in The World, Stephen Greenblatt was an I'll-read-anything kind of kid. One day, he was standing in the campus book store, and there, in a bin, selling for ten cents (good price, even in 1961) he noticed a thin, little volume called On the Nature of Things, by a Roman writer named Lucretius.

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7:46am

Wed August 3, 2011
Krulwich Wonders...

Living Very, Very Narrowly

Courtesy of Jakub Szczesny Centrala

There are two apartment buildings in my Manhattan neighborhood that share a block. They sit very close. One is about nine inches from the other. In the small vertical space between them, a horde of finches have built themselves nest upon nest upon nest rising for nine human floors. It's a finch skyscraper. In March and April you can see finches busily flying in and out of this vertical crack, bearing twigs, grasses and nest-building material.

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10:27am

Mon August 1, 2011
Krulwich Wonders...

Food On A Plate Shouldn't Move

Originally published on Mon August 1, 2011 12:07 pm

YouTube

There should be a law that says food on a plate shouldn't move.

Especially when you're about to eat it.

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