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...
10:16 am
Fri July 20, 2012

Frozen And Blushing Forever

Arvid Aase/Fossil Country Museum National Park Service

Originally published on Fri July 20, 2012 10:44 am

Not that you'd care, because you're dead, but how would you like it if the last thing you did on Earth was really, really embarrassing — like trying to gulp down a meal that's flip-flopping wildly in your mouth, tail out ...

... when along comes a mudslide, and boom! You and your lunch are frozen in place, harden into rock and then, a hundred or so million years later, there you are again, still gulping, but now under lights in a museum display case for an endless stream of strangers? Not good if you're a shy fish.

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Krulwich Wonders...
9:48 am
Wed July 18, 2012

If You Are Hit By Two Atomic Bombs, Should You Have Kids?

U.S. Army via Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum AP

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 12:34 pm

Tsutomu Yamaguchi was late for work. It was August 1945, and he'd just finished designing a 5,000-ton tanker for his company, Mitsubishi. He was heading to the office to finish up, clear out and head home, and that's when he saw the plane, high up in the sky over Hiroshima. He watched it drop a silvery speck into the air, and instinctively, says science writer Sam Kean, "he dove to the ground and covered his eyes and plugged his ears with his thumbs."

This was no ordinary bomb. The earth below shook, Yamaguchi was thrown up in the air, then smashed down and lost consciousness.

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Krulwich Wonders...
10:45 am
Tue July 17, 2012

Five Men Agree To Stand Directly Under An Exploding Nuclear Bomb

Atom Central/YouTube

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 2:23 pm

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Krulwich Wonders...
9:13 am
Fri July 13, 2012

Fantasy Baseball For Physicists: Very, Very Fast Fastballs

what if? from xkcd

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 10:00 am

Here's a question: What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90 percent of the speed of light?

The answer is: Don't.

Not that anyone's going to pitch a ball that fast, but if they do, you definitely don't want to be the batter. Or the pitcher. Or in the stands watching. Or anywhere near the ball field. But, trust me, you very definitely want to see what happens.

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:58 am
Thu July 12, 2012

Thinking Too Much About Chalk

Ayodha Ouditt NPR

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 12:31 pm

One day, the great novelist and essayist G. K. Chesterton decided to go sketching. He brought his colored chalks, his reds, blues, yellows and greens to a hill in South England, but he forgot to bring white. Damn, he thought, what an idiot, to leave out the crucial one. "Without white," he wrote, "my absurd little pictures would be...pointless." What to do? "I sat on the hill in a sort of despair."

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:44 am
Tue July 10, 2012

Woman On Street Attacked By Giant Snail, It Seems

Julian Beever

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 5:09 pm

Here's what got Nagai Hideyuki excited. Hideyuki lives in Tokyo. He's now 21. This photo was taken on the other side of the world, somewhere in Europe. What you see here is a street and a plain stone bench, both partially covered by a chalk drawing. The drawing disappears in places and at one point seems to bump into a metal pole.

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Krulwich Wonders...
12:13 am
Sun July 8, 2012

Weekend Special: Guess What? Sweat Is Not Smelly! (So Why Do I Smell?)

The Chemical Heritage Foundation via YouTube

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 1:28 pm

It's hot today. Really, really, hot; over a 100 degrees Fahrenheit hot, and so I'm sweating.

Sweating is what we people do to cool off, which is good. But sweating is also what makes me ... what's the word? Odoriferous. (Latinate for stinky, which is not so good.)

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Krulwich Wonders...
12:39 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Buildings That Wheeze, Squeeze And Dance

La Tête au Carré in Nice, France
Paul Stevenson via Flickr

Originally published on Sat July 7, 2012 11:54 am

The pharoahs wouldn't, and probably couldn't, do it. Same for the Greeks. Ditto the Chinese. Two, three thousand years ago, builders had trouble building curvy buildings. They did straight lines. Obelisks go straight up. The Parthenon is a rectangle-triangle combination. The Great Wall is a vertical. Of course, there were tepees and igloos, but they weren't permanent. Big buildings stayed rigid, classic, geometric.

But no more. All over the world, buildings are now getting fleshy and round, more like us.

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Krulwich Wonders...
1:41 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Showing Vultures A Little Love

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 12:32 pm

Think of a giraffe lying on the Serengeti plain. He has just died, maybe of disease, maybe he was killed by a pride of lions, but now he's a 19-foot-long, 4,000-pound mound of meat, which very soon is going to stink and rot and muck up the neighborhood.

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Krulwich Wonders...
7:06 am
Sat June 30, 2012

Robot With Super Powers Plays Rock, Paper Scissors

YouTube

First chess, now this:

Here's a robot from Ishikawa Oku's physics lab at the University of Tokyo that plays rock, paper, scissor and always beats the human, every single time. Because the team that built it gave it a superpower.

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Krulwich Wonders...
9:37 am
Thu June 28, 2012

Phantom Finger Points To Secrets In The Human Brain

hand 1
Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 10:07 am

When she was born, her right hand wasn't right. Instead of looking like this ...

... her thumb was stunted, she had no index finger. Her middle finger and her ring finger were rigid. Only her pinkie was normal.

Her name doesn't matter. In their science paper describing her case, her doctors call her "RN" to protect her privacy. It's her hand that has them thinking.

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Krulwich Wonders...
9:03 am
Mon June 25, 2012

Millions And Billions And Billiards And Milliards

YouTube

I know about millions, billions and trillions, but milliards and billiards? Never heard of those.

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Krulwich Wonders...
7:43 am
Sat June 23, 2012

Weekend Special: This Blog Now Has An Anthem

Getty Images

It's sung, of course, by Fred Rogers, or as we all call him, "Mister." He is our diva (divo?), and his theme is Wonder, like ours.

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:58 am
Fri June 22, 2012

How Do Plants Know Which Way Is Up And Which Way Is Down?

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 4:32 pm

Think of a seed buried in a pot. Like this one:

It's dark down there in the potting soil. There's no light, no sunshine. So how does it know which way is up and which way is down? It does know. Seeds routinely send shoots up toward the sky, and roots the other way. Darkness doesn't confuse them. Somehow, they get it right...

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:49 am
Tue June 19, 2012

Med Student Rescues Body Part From Airport Security

The section of trachea with two days of cell growth, immediately before Castillo's implant surgery.
Harvard Bioscience

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 2:55 pm

No, said airline security, you can't take this bottle onboard. It exceeds the 100 milliliter limit; it's forbidden.

But wait, said professor Martin Birchall of Bristol University. This is a medical container. Inside is a trachea, a carefully constructed human windpipe, seeded with 60 million stem cells from a very sick woman in Barcelona. We have just 16 hours to get it into her body. We pre-arranged this.

We have no record of your request, said the airline.

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