Geoff Brumfiel

Science correspondent Geoff Brumfiel's reports on physics, space, and all things nuclear can be heard across NPR News programs and on NPR.org.

Brumfiel has carried his microphone into ghost villages created by the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. He's tracked the journey of highly enriched uranium as it was shipped out of Poland. For a story on how animals drink, he crouched for over an hour and tried to convince his neighbor's cat to lap a bowl of milk. He became a full-time correspondent in March of 2013.

Prior to NPR, Geoff was based in London as a senior reporter for Nature Magazine from 2007-2013. There he covered energy, space, climate, and the physical sciences. In addition to reporting, he was a member of the award-winning Nature podcast team. From 2002 – 2007, Brumfiel was Nature Magazine's Washington Correspondent, reporting on Congress, the Bush administration, NASA, and the National Science Foundation, as well as the Departments of Energy and Defense.

He began his journalism career working on the American Physical Society's "Focus" website, which is now part of Physics.

Brumfiel is the 2013 winner of the Association of British Science Writers award for news reporting on the Fukushima nuclear accident.

He graduated from Grinnell College with a BA double degree in physics and English, and earned his Masters in science writing from Johns Hopkins University.

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News
4:44 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

What Brought Down The Malaysian Airliner?

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 8:40 pm

Shortly after news broke that a Malaysia Airlines flight crashed in eastern Ukraine, suspicions began to swirl that the plane had been shot down. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel speaks with Audie Cornish about the feasibility that a missile brought down the airliner.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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The Two-Way
3:34 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Physicists Crush Diamonds With Giant Laser

Physicists put diamonds at the center of this massive laser, to see what would happen.
Matt Swisher Matt Swisher/LLNL

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 11:09 am

Physicists have used the world's most powerful laser to zap diamonds. The results, they say, could tell us more about the cores of giant planets.

"Diamonds have very special properties, besides being very expensive and used for jewelrey etc.," says Raymond Smith, a researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. "It's the hardest substance known to man."

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Health
6:45 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Researchers Aghast Over Discovery Of Smallpox Vials

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 9:45 am

Federal health officials have found six vials of smallpox apparently forgotten in a lab storeroom. Officials want to know where the deadly virus came from and why it was left unsecured for so long.

Space
5:21 am
Tue July 1, 2014

Carbon Observatory To Monitor Greenhouse Gas From Space

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 6:32 am

NASA is preparing to launch a new satellite to observe carbon dioxide from space. The satellite could revolutionize our understanding of where this greenhouse gas comes from and where it goes.

The Two-Way
4:17 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Carbon-Sensing Satellite Prepares For Second Launch

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 will monitor carbon dioxide emissions.
jhoward NASA/JPL

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 2:27 pm

NASA is preparing to launch a satellite capable of monitoring carbon dioxide emissions from space. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) will be the first U.S. spacecraft dedicated to seeing the greenhouse gas from orbit, and could pave the way for new technology to enforce future global warming treaties.

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Middle East
4:07 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

World's Chemical Weapons Watchdog Clears Syria

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 8:07 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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The Two-Way
5:35 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Dust Clouds Big Bang Signal

The BICEP2 telescope in Antarctica was looking for ripples from the Big Bang.
Robert Schwarz, University of Minnesota

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 8:25 pm

In March, a team of physicists announced it had found a signal from the very first moments after the Big Bang. But in a paper published Thursday, the researchers expressed considerably more caution and conceded that they could have actually been detecting little more than interstellar dust.

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The Two-Way
3:38 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Scientists Keep A Careful Eye On The World Cup Ball

A close up of the Brazuca ball in NASA's Ames Fluid Mechanics Laboratory. Smoke highlighted by lasers visualizes air flow around the ball.
NASA's Ames Research Center

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 8:45 am

While many millions are enjoying the drama of the World Cup, a handful of scientists are keeping their eyes very closely on the ball.

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The Two-Way
4:38 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

SpaceX Unveils A Sleek New Ride To Orbit

SpaceX's new crew capsule was unveiled yesterday.
SpaceX

Yesterday, entrepreneur Elon Musk sauntered on to stage and unveiled his latest product: not a smart phone, but a spaceship.

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Business
5:24 am
Fri May 30, 2014

SpaceX Founder Elon Musk Reveals New Spacecraft

Originally published on Fri May 30, 2014 12:36 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

NPR's Business News begins with - not kidding - riding a dragon. Last night, the private spaceflight company, SpaceX, unveiled a new capsule called Dragon to take astronauts into orbit. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reports that this is part of the company's promise to make spaceflight cheap.

GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: When Internet entrepreneur, Elon Musk, announced he was starting a space launch company, there were doubters.

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The Two-Way
1:18 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Rumors Of An Intergalactic Explosion Are Greatly Exaggerated

Astronomers thought they saw a big explosion in the nearby Andromeda galaxy.
GALEX, JPL-Caltech/ NASA

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 6:17 pm

Tuesday afternoon, astronomers thought they saw a powerful explosion in the nearby Andromeda galaxy.

The Internet went wild with speculation about what it could be: Had two superdense neutron stars collided? Did a supermassive star explode?

"When I got up this morning and turned on my phone, I had a lot of emails and my Twitter feed was burning," says Phil Evans, an astronomer at the University of Leicester in Britain.

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The Two-Way
4:24 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Organic Cat Litter Chief Suspect In Nuclear Waste Accident

Workers at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant are still investigating what caused a radioactive release at the site, but organic cat litter may be the culprit.
DOE/WIPP

Originally published on Sat May 24, 2014 3:12 am

In February, a 55-gallon drum of radioactive waste burst open inside America's only nuclear dump, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.

Now investigators believe the cause may have been a pet store purchase gone bad.

"It was the wrong kitty litter," says James Conca, a geochemist in Richland, Wash., who has spent decades in the nuclear waste business.

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Science
4:42 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Big Bang's Ripples: Two Scientists Recall Their Big Discovery

The Holmdel Horn Antenna at Bell Telephone Laboratories in New Jersey was built in 1959 to make the first phone call via satellite.
NASA

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 8:27 pm

On May 20, 1964, two astronomers working at a New Jersey laboratory turned a giant microwave antenna toward what they thought would be a quiet part of the Milky Way. They weren't searching for anything; they were trying to make adjustments to their instrument before looking at more interesting things in the sky.

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The Two-Way
5:03 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Rocket Wars: Will A Suit By SpaceX Get Off The Ground?

Atlas V (left); Falcon 9 (right)
ULA; SpaceX

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 10:01 am

The two rockets pictured above may look the same, and in many ways they are: Both are launched pointy-end up, and both can carry a satellite into orbit.

But the rocket on the left, known as an Atlas V, costs between $100 million and $300 million more to launch (depending on whom you ask) than the one on the right, the Falcon 9.

So why has the U.S. Air Force just signed a contract to buy dozens of rockets like the Atlas V from a single supplier?

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The Two-Way
3:33 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Mars Rover Takes A Break To Drill A Hole

The rover has drilled a hole in sandstone. It will soon collect samples to learn more about how the rocks formed.
NASA/Caltech/JPL

NASA's Curiosity rover is on an epic trip to a distant mountain, but it took a brief break Wednesday to dip its drill into the Martian soil.

The drilling is taking place at a place called Waypoint Kimberley. The area is a point of convergence for several different types of terrain, says John Grotzinger, the rover's project scientist. The exposed rock and different formations made the way point a good place to "stop and smell the roses," he says.

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