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...
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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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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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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Krulwich Wonders...
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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Krulwich Wonders...
12:00 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

This Pulsing Earth

John Nelson IDV Solutions

It's breathing, he thought. "All of a sudden I see a thing with a heartbeat."

John Nelson is a designer, well known for tracing complex weather patterns or cultural information on maps, so considering what he usually does, this was easy. NASA's Visible Earth team publishes pictures of our planet every month of the year, so John thought, why not stitch them together, and see what the seasons look like from outer space?

So he stitched, and then looked.

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Krulwich Wonders...
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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Krulwich Wonders...
10:10 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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Krulwich Wonders...
11:45 am
Tue April 30, 2013

The Boomerang Rocket Ship: Shoot It Up, Back It Comes

YouTube

What in heaven's name is happening here?

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:55 am
Wed April 17, 2013

A 'Whom Do You Hang With?' Map Of America

MIT Senseable City - "The Connected States of America"
MIT Senseable City Lab

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 1:31 pm

Look at the center of this map, at the little red dot that marks Kansas City. Technically, Kansas City is at the edge of Missouri, but here on this map it's in the upper middle section of a bigger space with strong blue borders. We don't have a name for this bigger space yet, but soon we will.

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Krulwich Wonders...
1:18 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

The Big Squeeze: Can Cities Save The Earth?

Courtesy of Michael Wolf

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 4:04 pm

Let's get dense. If we take all the atoms inside you, all roughly 70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 of them, and squeeze away all the space inside, then, says physicist Brian Greene:

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