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...
10:29 am
Thu June 27, 2013

7 Billion People And Trillions Of Creatures To Be Photographed Together On July 19

NASA

Originally published on Tue July 16, 2013 9:40 am

It's going to be a very small picture, but we're all going to be in it. All trillions of us on Earth.

It's not our first group portrait, but Carolyn Porco, the woman in charge, says it's going to be gasp-worthy. She should know. She helped shoot some of the early ones.

What am I talking about?

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:00 am
Tue June 25, 2013

The Man With A 'Battery Operated Brain'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PFknl5YFsE

Originally published on Tue June 25, 2013 9:49 am

He calls himself the "human with the battery operated brain" because he does, in fact, have electrodes in his head, put there by his New Zealand doctors.

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:39 am
Mon June 17, 2013

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

YouTube

Originally published on Tue June 18, 2013 7:53 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...
8:27 am
Wed June 5, 2013

MIT's Magic Bag Of Sand

NMANewsDirect You Tube

Originally published on Wed June 5, 2013 8:48 am

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Krulwich Wonders...
9:45 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...
9:55 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 11:31 am

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...
11:18 am
Mon April 8, 2013

The Big Squeeze: Can Cities Save The Earth?

Courtesy of Michael Wolf

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 2:04 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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Krulwich Wonders...
9:16 am
Fri March 8, 2013

What Happened When Humans Met An Alien Intelligence? Sex Happened

Courtesy of the Neanderthal Museum

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 12:50 pm

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:02 am
Fri January 25, 2013

Falling Off The Moon

YouTube

Originally published on Fri January 25, 2013 3:42 pm

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Krulwich Wonders...
5:33 am
Sat January 12, 2013

Phooey On Flu

A lot of you have had it by now, or are having it or are about to be exposed. This year's flu is called "H3N2" and this week it's doing big business in about 47 states, Chicago and New York. If you've had a flu shot and if you wash your hands several times a day for 20 seconds, (which is the time it takes to hum "Happy Birthday to You" two times through) you might reduce your odds of getting sick.

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Krulwich Wonders...
4:06 am
Sat January 5, 2013

A Very, Very, Very Delicate Balance

Stone balance art by Gravity Glue.
Courtesy of Gravity Glue

Originally published on Tue January 15, 2013 10:50 am

These rocks, says the artist, are not glued, not Velcroed. This is not a trick. Go ahead and click through our glossary of photographs. There are big rocks pirouetting on little ones, little ones dangling on top of big ones, pebbles tightly clumped and suspended in air ...

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Krulwich Wonders...
9:38 am
Wed January 2, 2013

Grrr, Said The Grylloblattid. I'm Not Leaving. Not Yet.

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 3:01 pm

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Krulwich Wonders...
10:26 am
Mon December 31, 2012

Another Year And I'm Still Here: A New Year's Meditation

Rogier Wieland Vimeo

Originally published on Tue January 1, 2013 10:17 am

Updated Jan. 1, 2013: I've added a postscript to this post. You can find it at the bottom of this page.

Look at yourself. Right now.

You are muscle,skin, bone, brain, blood, warmed by energy, and all of you, every cell, even the subsets of those cells, all trillions and trillions of them, are going to tire, waste and depart. In 10 years almost every bit of you will have been replaced by new bits.

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Krulwich Wonders...
9:27 am
Wed November 21, 2012

Double Thanks

monkey
vimeo

Originally published on Wed November 21, 2012 10:58 am

I'm giving thanks in two ways today, first for things that have lasted, persisted (and here's hoping they keep on going), and second — for change; for our ability to create beauty in new ways. So I'm saying thank you for what's old and what's new.

Thanksgiving, I think, can go both ways.

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Krulwich Wonders...
10:05 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Why Not Say It Simply? How About Very Simply?

xkcd: "Another thing that is a bad problem is if you're flying toward space and the parts start to fall off your space car in the wrong order. If that happens, it means you won't go to space today, or maybe ever."
xkcd

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 10:27 am

There are people (and I hear from them constantly) who think if a subject is sophisticated, like science, the language that describes it should be sophisticated, too.

If smart people say torque, ribosome, limbic, stochastic and kinase, then the rest of us should knuckle down, concentrate and figure out what those words mean. That's how we'll know when we've learned something: when we've mastered the technical words.

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Krulwich Wonders...
3:28 am
Sat November 17, 2012

The Big Apple's Mayor Makes A Very Scary Video

YouTube

Originally published on Sat November 17, 2012 8:15 am

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:21 am
Tue November 13, 2012

Death, But Softly

Michel de Montaigne
Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 12:35 pm

It was 1569, or maybe early 1570, when it happened: A young French gentleman was out for a ride with his workers, all of them on horseback, when suddenly, "like a thunderbolt," he felt something thick and fleshy slam him from behind. (It was an overzealous, galloping assistant who couldn't stop in time.) Michel de Montaigne's horse crumbled, he went flying up, then down, he crashed to the ground. Then things went black.

When he came to, a minute or so later, he says,

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Krulwich Wonders...
6:34 am
Sat November 10, 2012

Finnish Underwater Ice Fishing Mystery Finally Solved

That's ordinary air pouring out of the pail.
YouTube

I'm going to take you somewhere, but before I do, I should warn you that there's something not quite right about what you'll see. This place I'm going to show you will be astonishingly beautiful. It will be cold. It will be wet. But it will also be a touch — more than a touch — mysterious. So watch carefully.

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Krulwich Wonders...
6:59 am
Mon October 29, 2012

Celebrating Autumn All Year Round ... By Becoming A Leaf

Piotr Naskrecki

Originally published on Mon October 29, 2012 9:04 am

It is autumn, and where I live the leaves are peaking; there is a riot of them everywhere, narrow ones, broad ones, droopy ones, crunchy ones. Leaves come in so many shapes, hues, textures — the closer you look, the more differences you see. Botanists have names for every leaf type, and clumped together, says writer Robert Dunn, they sound like free verse poetry ...

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:45 am
Fri October 19, 2012

Charles Darwin And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Aaron Birk

I guess everybody, even the smartest people who ever lived, have days when they feel dumb — really, really dumb. Oct. 1, 1861, was that kind of day for Charles Darwin.

In a letter to his friend Charles Lyell, Darwin says, "I am very poorly today," and then — and I want you to see this exactly as he wrote it, so you know this isn't a fake; it comes from the library of the American Philosophical Society, courtesy of their librarian Charles Greifenstein. Can you read it?

It says:

Whoah! You know the feeling, right?

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Krulwich Wonders...
9:44 am
Wed October 17, 2012

Tough Old Lizard To Face Grave Romantic Troubles, Say Scientists

Courtesy of Piotr Naskrecki

Oh, dear.

First off, this lizard? It's not really a lizard. It's an almost vanished species, a reptile like no other.

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Krulwich Wonders...
9:18 am
Fri October 12, 2012

Sun Goes Down. Up Comes A Mystery

minutephysics YouTube

Originally published on Fri October 12, 2012 9:53 am

Here's a question you probably didn't know was a question: Why is the sky dark at night?

My daughter asked me this about 10 years ago. We were looking up at the night sky, and she said, "There's lots of stars up there." And I said, "Yes."

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Krulwich Wonders...
10:49 am
Wed October 10, 2012

Obama's Secret Weapon In The South: Small, Dead, But Still Kickin'

Ron Blakey Northern Arizona University

Originally published on Wed October 10, 2012 1:10 pm

Look at this map, and notice that deep, deep in the Republican South, there's a thin blue band stretching from the Carolinas through Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. These are the counties that went for Obama in the last election. A blue crescent in a sea of red.

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Krulwich Wonders...
9:20 am
Wed October 3, 2012

Are Those Spidery Black Things On Mars Dangerous? (Maybe)

Michael Benson NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/Kinetikon Pictures

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 2:43 pm

You are 200 miles directly above the Martian surface — looking down. This image was taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Jan. 27, 2010. (The color was added later.) What do we see? Well, sand, mostly. As you scroll down, there's a ridge crossing through the image, then a plain, then dunes, but keep looking. You will notice, when you get to the dunes, there are little black flecks dotting the ridges, mostly on the sunny side, like sunbathing spiders sitting in rows. Can you see them?

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Krulwich Wonders...
10:56 am
Mon October 1, 2012

Do You Know Where Your Children Are? Is That Always A Good Thing?

iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 11:32 am

There was a time — and it wasn't that long ago — when kids would leave home on a summer morning and roam free. "I knew kids who were pushed out the door at eight in the morning," writes Bill Bryson of his childhood in the 1950s, "and not allowed back until five unless they were on fire or actively bleeding." That's what kids did. They went out. Parents let them, and everybody did it. "If you stood on any corner with a bike — any corner anywhere — more than a hundred children, many of whom you had never seen before, would appear and ask you where you were going," Bryson writes.

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:49 am
Fri September 21, 2012

Getting Slower And Slower: How Slow Can You Go?

Vincent Liota

Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 9:36 am

Before we go slow, let's go fast, so fast you can't go any faster. That would be light in a vacuum, traveling at 670 million miles per hour ...

Light, of course, can slow down. When light passes through water, it loses speed. A diamond is an even better speed bump. It can slow a beam of light by 40 percent.

But moving on, you and I are going pretty fast right now, though we don't notice. The planet we're on is zipping around the sun at 66,000-plus miles per hour ...

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Krulwich Wonders...
7:44 am
Wed September 19, 2012

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

National Technical Information Service via Alex Wellerstein

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

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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Krulwich Wonders...
9:58 am
Fri September 7, 2012

Volcano Shoots Geyser Of Water Up Into Space

Michael Benson

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

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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Krulwich Wonders...
7:42 am
Thu September 6, 2012

Noah's Face Is Now Six And A Half Years Older

Noah Kalina YouTube

Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 5:25 pm

He keeps getting older, and we get to watch, day by day by day by day. You probably know his face. He's Noah Kalina, the photographer who's been taking pictures of himself once a day, every day since the turn of this century.

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Krulwich Wonders...
6:39 am
Wed September 5, 2012

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

iStockphoto.com

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

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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