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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Krulwich Wonders...
7:08 am
Thu January 9, 2014

A Rain Forest Begins With Rain, Right? Is This A Trick Question?

MinuteEarth YouTube

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 1:50 pm

Think of a rain forest — rich with trees, covered by clouds, wet all the time.

Then ask yourself, how did this rain forest get started?

I ask, because the answer is so going to surprise you. It's not what you think.

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:27 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Am I Going To Die This Year? A Mathematical Puzzle

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 12:56 pm

A few years ago, physicist Brian Skinner asked himself: What are the odds I will die in the next year? He was 25. What got him wondering about this, I have no idea, but, hey, it's something everybody asks. When I can't wedge my dental floss between my two front teeth, I ask it, too. So Brian looked up the answer — there are tables for this kind of thingand what he discovered is interesting. Very interesting. Even mysterious.

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Krulwich Wonders...
4:33 am
Sun January 5, 2014

Oh Say, Can You See? A Musical Salute

Jon Batiste star-spangles our banner.
YouTube

Some things are so familiar, so fixed in our heads, that we stop noticing them. Buckle-your-seat-belt instructions in an airplane, for example. You don't have to listen. You know the drill.

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:33 am
Sat January 4, 2014

Billboards That Drop Angels On Your Head

YouTube

Originally published on Sat January 4, 2014 10:57 pm

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Krulwich Wonders...
7:47 am
Fri January 3, 2014

'You're Invisible, But I'll Eat You Anyway.' Secrets Of Snow-Diving Foxes

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 1:57 pm

I'm a fox. It's January. I'm hungry. I want a meal. My food, however, is buried 3 feet down, deep in the snow, hiding. It's alive, in motion, and very small, being a mouse. So how does an above-ground fox catch an underground mouse? Well, the answer is nothing short of astonishing. Here's a fox:

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Krulwich Wonders...
7:43 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Animal Loses Head But Remembers Everything

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 12:28 pm

When I first saw this," says cell biologist Alejandro Sanchez Alvarado, "it was with total amazement."

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Krulwich Wonders...
1:57 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

What Chickadees Have That I Want. Badly

Robert Krulwich NPR

First I look in my right coat pocket. Nothing. Then my left. Nothing. Then my pants, right side — no. Then my pants, left side — yes! This is me at my front door, looking for my keys. Every day.

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Krulwich Wonders...
6:27 am
Fri December 20, 2013

One Man. One Cat. Multiplied

Courtesy of Mike Holmes

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 11:08 am

We start with a man called Mike and a cat called Ella. Two creatures.

Nothing odd about them, except that Mike has a beard and Ella is a touch chunky. Otherwise, they could be any cat and guy. Except ...

When you think about it, no one is ordinary. You could put a totally bland cat-and-guy couple in front of a hundred people, ask them to look, and each one would see a very different pair, different in a thousand subtle ways, because everybody looks at everything with different eyes.

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Arts + Life
2:06 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Why We Need Grandpas And Grandmas (Part 1)

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 5:55 pm

Oldsters, it turns out, matter. They matter a lot. And not just in human families. I've been reading a new book called The Once and Future World, by J. B. MacKinnon, which points out that when we humans hunt game, when we fish the sea, we often prize the biggest animals because they have the biggest tusks, or the most protein, so they're the ones we kill first.

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Science + Technology
1:25 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

How Important Is A Bee?

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 10:37 am

This is an alarming story, not because it ends badly. It's alarming because it ends well. It shouldn't have, but it did, and biologists (and especially conservationists) now have a puzzle to ponder.

The story begins in central China, in an apple-growing region called Maoxian County, near the city of Chengdu. In the mid-1990s, the bees that regularly showed up there every spring suddenly didn't. Apple farmers, obviously, need bees. Bees dust their way through blossoms, moving from flower to flower, pollinating, which helps produce apples in September.

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Arts + Life
1:14 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

How To Keep The Dust Off Your White Pants With 7 Desk Fans

Copyright Heirs of Rube Goldberg

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 4:53 pm

Once upon a time, you could crack open a radio, a telephone, a lawnmower, even a car, take it apart and figure out how it worked. No more. Pretty much everything we use these days comes with computer chips, which you can't really take apart. (I mean, you can, but all you'll find inside are a bunch of 1's and 0's with no obvious logic.) So car mechanics can snap a new chip into an engine, wait till it whirs and watch the gears come to life, but do they know what's going on in there? For most of us, chips are "black boxes." They work, but we don't know why.

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:08 am
Thu November 28, 2013

On Thanksgiving, Everybody Needs A Friend — And That Means Everybody

Blue_Cutler iStockphoto

Last December, a website called The Morning News asked me to describe the most important and unimportant events of my year. So I sent them a story that felt like both to me, something slight but at the same time deeply rich. Now that it's Thanksgiving, I'm going to post it here because it's about two girls who want the best for everybody — and that can get complicated.

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Krulwich Wonders...
10:56 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Born Wet, Human Babies Are 75 Percent Water. Then Comes Drying

Robert Krulwich NPR

Look at this baby.

Lovely, no? Now think of this baby abstractly — as a sack of hundreds of millions of atoms. Here's the atomic formula for a new human being, arranged by elements, according to scientist Neil Shubin.

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Food
1:32 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

My Wine Won't Stop Crying — A Mystery In A Wineglass

Dan Quinn YouTube

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 1:23 pm

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Science + Technology
11:44 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Putting On Einstein's Glasses

Vimeo

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 10:29 am

Whenever you look at the teeming, rich and oh-so-various world, if you've got the right eyes, if you've got the eyes of a mathematician, you will find patterns — simple, elegant forms hiding in everything you see. Those patterns explain why sugar dissolves in a cup of coffee, why clouds release rain, why a heavy plane can climb into the sky.

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Science + Technology
10:05 am
Mon October 7, 2013

A Zoo For You

zoo
YouTube

Originally published on Sat October 5, 2013 7:38 am

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Science + Technology
5:31 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Comparing Sperm Whales To Sperm: A Swimming Contest

Brad Purnell YouTube

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 3:40 pm

If you're a big, big whale with a gigantic tail swimming through water, nothing gets in your way, not the water, not the other fish, not nothin'. You are so much bigger than the water molecules around you, you move through the sea the way humans move through the air on a calm day — you just go. Whales, I imagine, don't think much about water.

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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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