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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Science + Technology
10:08 am
Thu September 19, 2013

Mama Mia, Mama Mia! A Canadian Bohemian Rhapsodizes About String Theory

YouTube

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 11:42 am

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Science + Technology
10:40 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

A Most Delightful Map

Courtesy of Massimo Pietrobon

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 2:07 pm

Think about this: You wake up in New York City, decide to go for a stroll, head east after breakfast, and a short time later, still on foot, you find yourself in Morocco. Three hundred million years ago, you could have done that! There was no civilization back then, no cities, no countries, no people, but the land was there, so take a look at this map.

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Krulwich Wonders...
12:03 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

What We Can Never, Ever Know: Does Science Have Limits?

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri September 6, 2013 1:10 pm

I got two books in the mail that, if they could have, would've poked, scratched and ripped each others' pages out. I don't know if Martin Gardner and Patricia Churchland ever met, but their books show that there are radically, even ferociously, different ways to think about science. Gardner died last year. He was a science writer whose monthly "Mathematical Games" column in Scientific American was wildly popular. Patricia Churchland is a philosopher who teaches at U.C. San Diego.

The issue between them is: How much can we know about the universe?

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:33 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Wild Things Hanging From Spruce Trees

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 10:45 am

Stanley Kunitz, one of our great poets, planted a spruce tree next to his house in Provincetown, Mass., and over the years that tree attracted some tenants, a family of garden snakes. I didn't know garden snakes climb trees, especially needly ones like a spruce, but they do.

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Krulwich Wonders...
1:25 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

How To Build Little Doors Inside Your Shell: The Secrets of Snail Carpentry

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 3:03 pm

"I am going to withdraw from the world," says a snail in Hans Christian Andersen's tale The Snail and the Rosebush. "Nothing that happens there is any concern of mine."

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:02 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Drone It To Me, Baby

Jasper van Loenen/Vimeo

Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 4:18 pm

Spies used them first, then the Air Force, then cops, then mischievous civilians; drones, for some reason, are what gawkers use to gawk. They're spy accessories. But not only spy accessories. Thanks to Jasper van Loenen, drones are about to expand their repertoire. The word "drone" is about to become a verb, as in "Drone it to me"...

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Science + Technology
12:34 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

How To Disappear When Someone's Spying On You

Courtesy of Adam Harvey

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 6:32 pm

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Health
10:37 am
Thu August 22, 2013

'Why This Compulsion To Run Long Distances?' A Runner's Beautiful Confession

From Racing the Antelope

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 1:50 pm

Biologist Bernd Heinrich was in Zimbabwe, in the field, eyes down, looking for beetles, when for no particular reason he looked up and saw ... well, at first he wasn't sure what it was, so he stepped closer, leaned in, and there, painted on the underside of large protruding rock, were five human figures "running in one direction, from left to right across the rock face." They weren't very detailed, just "small, sticklike human figures in clear running stride" painted by a Bushman, two, maybe three thousand years ago.

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Science + Technology
1:32 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

How One Plus One Became Everything: A Puzzle of Life

Courtesy of Paolo Ceric

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 10:00 am

It's one of life's great mysteries ...

Four billion years ago, or thereabouts, organic chemicals in the sea somehow spun themselves into little homes, with insides and outsides. We call them cells.

They did this in different ways, but always keeping their insides in, protected from the outside world ...

... surrounded by walls or skins of different types ...

... but letting in essentials, nutrients. Some even learned to eat sunshine, capturing energy ...

... which gave them a pulse of their own ...

... so they could move ...

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Games + Leisure
2:32 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Watch Me Do Something Impossible In Three Totally Easy Steps

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 7:19 pm

Here's what the Swedish artist Oscar Reutersvard did. In 1934, he got himself a pen and paper and drew four cubes, like this.

Then he drew some more, like this.

And, then — and this is where he got mischievous — he drew one more set, like this.

He called this final version "Impossible Triangle of Opus 1 No. 293aa." I don't know what the "293aa" is about, but he was right about "impossible." An arrangement like this cannot take place in the physical universe as we know it.

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News
10:22 am
Wed July 31, 2013

Mysterious Dancing Lights In Afghanistan

Courtesy of Michael Yon

Originally published on Tue July 30, 2013 1:28 pm

This isn't a painting. It's not from a movie. It's not a strange astronomical event. This is real — what you can see when certain helicopters in Afghanistan touch down on sandy ground, raising dust, causing mysterious arcs of light to loop and dance through the air.

This doesn't always happen. "The halos usually disappear as the rotors change pitch," wrote war photographer Michael Yon. "On some nights, on this very same landing zone, no halos form." How come?

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Science + Technology
11:03 am
Tue July 30, 2013

What It's Like To Drop 150,000 Feet Straight Down

YouTube

Originally published on Mon July 29, 2013 1:55 pm

If I say "meet me 28 miles from here," that doesn't seem very far, right? You could take a taxi, a bus; if pushed you might even make it on a bike.

But what if the 28 miles is not on a road or a highway, but straight up, 150,000 feet — that's high. So high, we're out of the life zone. Up in the silence.

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Science + Technology
11:07 am
Tue July 23, 2013

Getting Cozy With Baby Butterflies ... So Cozy, They Whisper A Wriggly Secret

YouTube

Originally published on Sat July 20, 2013 5:00 am

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Science + Technology
11:47 am
Fri July 19, 2013

Just Like Van Gogh, Ocean Waves Paint Clouds In The Sky

YouTube

Originally published on Fri July 19, 2013 11:40 am

If you can't get to a beach this weekend, you can still see waves. Just look up.

Clouds, after all, are sculpted by waves of air. These clouds, in Birmingham, Ala., were formed when two layers of air — one fast, the other slow — collided at just the right speed to create rises and dips that caused the clouds to curl in on themselves and crash, just like waves on a beach.

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Science + Technology
12:14 am
Sat July 13, 2013

The Hardest Thing To Find In The Universe?

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat July 13, 2013 3:06 am

What is rarer than a shooting star?

Rarer than a diamond?

Rarer than any metal, any mineral, so rare that if you scan the entire earth, all six million billion billion kilos or 13,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 pounds of our planet, you would find only one ounce of it?

What is so rare it has never been seen directly, because if you could get enough of it together, it would self-vaporize from its own radioactive heat?

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Science + Technology
11:25 am
Mon July 1, 2013

Stroke, Stroke, Stroke — The Atlantic Ocean's Dazzling Oarsmen

Gregory G. Dimijian Science Source

Originally published on Sat June 29, 2013 2:38 am

At night, in the ocean, they look like little Broadway billboards with dazzling trills of rainbow colored light. They have eight little runways on their bodies for light display. What are they?

They're called comb jellies. They're not jellyfish. They don't pulse like jellies. They seem to hang. You can find them bobbing off eastern beaches from Massachusetts to the Carolinas and if you pull them up (you can, they don't sting), they're goopy, gelatinous clumps vaguely shaped like walnuts.

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Science + Technology
10:39 am
Mon June 17, 2013

Why Men Die Younger Than Women: The 'Guys Are Fragile' Thesis

YouTube

Originally published on Tue June 18, 2013 9:53 am

The 19th century just lost its last living man.

Jiroemon Kimura, of Kyotango, Japan, was born in April 1897, lived right through the 20th century and died last Wednesday. He was 116. According to Guinness World Records (which searches for these things), he was the last surviving male born in the 1800s. All the other boys from that century, as best we know, are dead.

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Science + Technology
12:34 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

The Most Dangerous Traffic Circle In The World?

Rob Whitworth Vimeo

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 11:22 am

I've been to New Delhi where traffic is frightening. I've seen pictures of Nairobi and Bangkok, where it's even scarier. But Ho Chi Minh City? The town we used to call Saigon? I don't think I'd put myself in a truck, car, bike or even a Sherman tank in that town. This video opens in the scariest traffic circle I could imagine — actually, it's beyond imagining — where bikes, cars and people seem simultaneously, collectively and individually heading straight at each other (when you look, just count the vehicles and people on collision course; there are at least two or three in every frame).

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Science + Technology
10:42 am
Wed June 5, 2013

MIT's Magic Bag Of Sand

NMANewsDirect You Tube

Originally published on Wed June 5, 2013 10:48 am

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Science + Technology
1:49 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

The Little Metronome That Wouldn't

YouTube

Originally published on Mon May 20, 2013 2:04 pm

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