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...
12:32 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

'Don't Touch Me,' Said Canada. 'I Won't!' Said The U.S.A. So They Moved 20 Feet Apart

National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque / Library and Archives Canada

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 6:55 pm

The U.S. and Canada may be as lovey-dovey as two neighbors can get, but according to this charming video history by CGP Grey, both countries agreed to tuck themselves a little bit in, 10 feet back for America, 10 feet back for Canada, creating a corridor of open, surveillable, clear space between them.

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Krulwich Wonders...
12:33 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Music That Burns, Literally

Veritasium/YouTube

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 4:49 pm

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Krulwich Wonders...
7:10 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Introducing A Divorce Rate For Birds, And Guess Which Bird Never, Ever Divorces?

Robert Krulwich/NPR

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 7:06 pm

There is love. And then there's albatross love.

In his new book, The Thing With Feathers, Noah Strycker says albatrosses have a knack for coupling. "These globe trotters, who mate for life and are incredibly faithful to their partners, just might have the most intense love affairs of any animal on our planet," he writes.

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:03 am
Sat April 19, 2014

So This Is How They Do It! Zebras Getting Stripes

Ricardo Solis

Originally published on Sat April 19, 2014 12:42 pm

How did it happen? How'd the zebra get its stripes?

In Rudyard Kipling's version, a gray, horsey-looking beast went into "a great forest 'sclusively full of trees and bushes and stripy, speckly, patchy-batchy shadows," stayed there awhile, and after a "long time"... got stripy.

OK. Not bad.

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Krulwich Wonders...
1:57 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

'Why Am I Dead?' He Never Asked. Here's The Answer He Never Heard

Robert Krulwich NPR

Shara Yurkiewicz is a med student. She's doing rounds now, moving from department to department. Much of what she sees, she's seeing for the first time. Not yet a doctor, there are moments, many moments when she has the eyes of a patient. She gets scared. She feels helpless. She's too involved. She's at that place in her training where everything is so sharp, so new, she feels the full, fresh stab of it, and sometimes, very privately, she bleeds.

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:34 am
Wed April 16, 2014

The Ultimate Animal Experience? Losing A Memory Quiz To A Chimp

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 1:34 pm

Time to be embarrassed. You're about to be bested by a young chimpanzee in a memory test.

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Krulwich Wonders...
5:39 am
Sat April 5, 2014

The Power Of Poop: A Whale Story

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Mon April 7, 2014 1:46 pm

This, I would think, should be self-evident: Generally speaking, big creatures eat smaller creatures that, in turn, eat even smaller creatures, like this ...

And just as obviously, one would expect the food chain to be pyramid-shaped: a few big creatures at the top eating more middle-sized creatures in the middle, that eat many, many, many little creatures at the bottom, like so:

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Krulwich Wonders...
12:59 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

'Oh, Hello,' Says Andrew, As He Suddenly Grabs You By The Leg Or Neck

Andrew Ucles YouTube

Originally published on Thu April 3, 2014 2:22 pm

Some people like a nice walk, some a gentle run, others a cup of tea. But not Andrew Ucles. There is nothing relaxed about Andrew. You can find him chasing after wild animals on his videos, grabbing them with his bare hands and then, while they squiggle, scratch and lunge, he tells them, "Settle, settle," shows them to the camera, brags a little and lets them go.

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Krulwich Wonders...
1:45 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

The List Of Animals Who Can Truly, Really Dance Is Very Short. Who's On It?

Courtesy of Irena Schulz/ Bird Lovers Only

Originally published on Wed April 2, 2014 3:05 pm

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Krulwich Wonders...
5:03 am
Sat March 22, 2014

I Can't Believe What I'm Seeing: A Springtime (Froggy) Miracle

NOVA scienceNOW

Originally published on Sat March 22, 2014 11:19 am

Two weeks ago this animal was frozen solid. If you found one in the woods, packed in the topsoil, hiding under a leaf, you could pull it from the ground and it would feel like an ashtray. You could bang it (lightly) on a table — it would go, "Konk!" like a rock. It doesn't seem to be breathing. It reacts to nothing. It's so dead. Or seems to be. And then, this (I want to call it a miracle) happens ...

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Krulwich Wonders...
7:23 am
Fri March 21, 2014

What's The Biggest Animal Gathering Ever? (Was Rod Stewart There?)

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 10:08 am

It's a small moment in a sprawling Shakespeare play. Most people miss it. A nobleman named Mortimer has been locked up by the king, who decrees: Don't anyone say "Mortimer" in my royal presence. That name is forbidden. But one of Mortimer's allies has a plan. He wants to give the king a little bird, a starling.

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Krulwich Wonders...
4:43 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

An Imaginary Town Becomes Real, Then Not. True Story

Booklist American Library Association

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 5:38 pm

This is the story of a totally made-up place that suddenly became real — and then, strangely, undid itself and became a fantasy again. Imagine Pinocchio becoming a real boy and then going back to being a puppet. That's what happened here — but this is a true story.

It's about a place in upstate New York called Agloe. You can see it here, circled in blue ...

... just up the road from Roscoe and Rockland.

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:03 am
Sat March 1, 2014

Polar Bear Flip-Flop: People Hated, Then Loved These Photos. What Changed?

Norbert Rosing National Geographic/Getty

Originally published on Sun March 2, 2014 12:56 am

This couldn't be.

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:03 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Is Planet Earth Under New Management?

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 12:31 pm

A hundred million years from now, when we're all dead and gone, a team of geologists will be digging in a field somewhere ...

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:19 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Trees On The Move As Temperature Zones Shift 3.8 Feet A Day

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 2:46 pm

You are a snail. You are a plant. You like where you are. The temperature's right. It suits you.

But then, gradually, over the years, it gets warmer. Not every day, of course, but on more and more days, the temperature climbs to uncomfortable highs, drying you out, making you tired, thirsty.

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:05 am
Sat February 15, 2014

'O Wind A-Blowing!'

Krulwich Wonders...
12:16 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Parents With Noisy Babies Shouldn't Read This. They'll Be Too Jealous

Stacey Dunn University of Idaho

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 12:42 pm

If only ... if only, instead of that noisy, bawling, crying little person, you could have produced an antelope baby — and oh, the quiet! The blissful, total silence. When pronghorn antelopes have babies, nobody hears anything for weeks and weeks — which is the whole point.

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Krulwich Wonders...
3:26 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Big Fish Stories Getting Littler

Courtesy of Monroe County Public Library

They came, they fished, then snap! They posed. Right in front of their Big Catch — and thereby hangs a tale.

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:46 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Can It Be? Pigeons, Geese And White-Tailed Deer Were Once Rare

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 4:47 pm

Go back 150 years and ask yourself, what was there a lot of?

We all know the answer ...

There were lots of buffalo, lots of passenger pigeons, lots of oysters. And then, poof! Hardly any. Or none ...

OK, let's flip the question: What were there precious few of 150 years ago, in a couple of cases almost to the point of extinction? The answer — believe it or not — is white-tailed deer, Canada geese and, arguably, ordinary pigeons.

I'm not kidding.

White Tailed Deer

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:07 am
Fri January 31, 2014

A Hunk Of Planet Dissolves Before Our Eyes

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...
1:25 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

What Chickadees Have That I Want. Badly

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 1:57 pm

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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Krulwich Wonders...
10:36 am
Fri December 6, 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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