NPR: David Kestenbaum

David Kestenbaum is a correspondent for NPR, covering science, energy issues and, most recently, the global economy for NPR's multimedia project Planet Money. David has been a science correspondent for NPR since 1999. He came to journalism the usual way — by getting a Ph.D. in physics first.

In his years at NPR, David has covered science's discoveries and its darker side, including the Northeast blackout, the anthrax attacks and the collapse of the New Orleans levees. He has also reported on energy issues, particularly nuclear and climate change.

David has won awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

David worked briefly on the show This American Life, and set up a radio journalism program in Cambodia on a Fulbright fellowship. He also teaches a journalism class at Johns Hopkins University.

David holds a bachelor's of science degree in physics from Yale University and a doctorate in physics from Harvard University.

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3:41pm

Thu October 9, 2014
Planet Money

How College Students Battled Textbook Publishers To A Draw, In 3 Graphs

Originally published on Tue October 14, 2014 1:18 pm

Quoctrung Bui/NPR

College textbooks are expensive. You probably already know this. A new biology or economics book can cost $300.

And prices have been soaring, doubling over the past decade, growing faster than the price of housing, cars, even health care.

But, surprisingly, the amount students actually spend on textbooks has not been rising. In fact, the best data we could find on this shows students have been spending a bit less over time.

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3:36am

Thu August 21, 2014
Planet Money

Typewriters, Underwater Hotels And Picturephones: The Future, As Seen From 1964

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 4:56 pm

General Motors

The 1964 World's Fair showcased jet packs and new miracles of science. There was an entire house made of Formica. You could wipe it clean with a sponge!

The people who put the fair together tried to imagine how the future would look. Here are a few predictions, and how they actually turned out.

1. We had picture phones back then?

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7:02am

Fri August 1, 2014
Business

Everyone Goes To The Store To Get Milk. So Why's It Way In The Back?

Originally published on Fri August 1, 2014 7:14 am

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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5:12am

Thu June 12, 2014
Planet Money

Volatility Index Indicates Wall Street Is Bored

Originally published on Thu June 12, 2014 9:40 am

An economic indicator commonly called the VIX, volatility index, is also known as the fear index. Whatever you call it, the index is hitting lows not seen since before the financial crisis.

6:08pm

Thu June 5, 2014
Planet Money

Why A Pack Of Peanut Butter M&M's Weighs A Tiny Bit Less Than A Regular Pack

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 5:03 pm

Peanut Butter M&M's are larger and more irregular than standard M&M's.
Quoctrung Bui/NPR

The other day I went down to the little shop in the lobby of our building for a snack. I couldn't decide whether I wanted regular M&M's or Peanut Butter M&M's so I bought them both. On the way back upstairs to the office, I noticed something strange on the labels. Each had cost $1, but the pack of Peanut Butter M&M's was a very tiny bit lighter: 0.06 ounces lighter!

I wanted to know why, so I called a couple of experts and asked for their theories:

Theory No. 1: Peanut Butter M&M's are more expensive to make.

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5:05am

Thu May 22, 2014
Planet Money

On The Internet, A Penny Is Nothing To Sneeze At

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 9:18 am

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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4:44pm

Fri May 2, 2014
Economy

The History Of Light, In 6 Minutes And 47 Seconds

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 11:57 am

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And now, 4,000 years of economic growth in seven minutes. This story comes, of course, from our Planet Money team. David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein bring us the history of light and how the world came what it is today.

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4:37pm

Thu April 24, 2014
Health Care

How One State Convinced Its 'Young Invincibles' To Get Health Insurance

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 12:45 pm

A 2008 ad trying to convince uninsured Massachusetts residents to get signed up for health insurance.
Sawyer Miller Advertising

Buying insurance doesn't always feel like it makes economic sense, especially for young healthy people. So why are they still willing to pay?

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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4:59am

Fri April 4, 2014
Planet Money

New Web Addresses Provide Alternatives To Crowded Domains

Originally published on Fri April 4, 2014 8:22 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On a Friday it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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5:41pm

Thu March 6, 2014
Planet Money

Does Raising The Minimum Wage Kill Jobs?

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 7:50 pm

Kenzo Tribouillard AFP/Getty Images

President Obama has called for increasing the minimum wage, saying it will help some of the poorest Americans. Opponents argue that a higher minimum wage will lead employers to cut jobs.

Figuring out the effect of raising the minimum wage is tough. Ideally you'd like to compare one universe where the minimum was raised against an alternate universe where it remained fixed.

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3:33am

Fri January 17, 2014
Planet Money

The Birth Of The Minimum Wage In America

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 4:46 pm

Franklin D. Roosevelt Libarary

In 1895, legislators in New York state decided to improve working conditions in what at the time could be a deadly profession: baking bread.

"Bakeries are actually extremely dangerous places to work," says Eric Rauchway, a historian at the University of California, Davis. "Because flour is such a fine particulate, if it gets to hang in the air it can catch fire and the whole room can go up in a sheet of flame."

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12:00pm

Thu January 2, 2014
Planet Money

A Bet, Five Metals And The Future Of The Planet

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 11:24 am

James Cridland Flickr

This famous bet — between a biologist and an economist — was over population growth. It started three decades ago, but it helped set the tone for environmental debates that are still happening today.

The biologist at the heart of this bet was Paul Ehrlich at Stanford. He wrote a best-selling book in 1968 called The Population Bomb. It was so popular he appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

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2:44pm

Wed December 11, 2013
Planet Money

We Found This 20-Year-Old T-Shirt In Kenya. The Internet Found The Original Owner

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 12:46 am

Tshirt
Quoctrung Bui

We recently published a story about how used clothes that get donated in the U.S. often wind up for sale in markets in Africa. As part of the story, we published some photos of used T-shirts we found in a couple of markets in Kenya.

One shirt in particular caught our eye:

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3:35am

Fri November 22, 2013
Planet Money

A Bitcoin Insider On Crime, Congress And Satoshi Nakamoto

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 11:48 am

This is not a bitcoin.
eagleapex's posterous Flickr

For more on what Bitcoin is and how it works, see our story "What Is Bitcoin?"

Gavin Andresen is chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation. I first talked with him about Bitcoin, the virtual currency, back in 2011. I checked back in with him this week, because so much has been going on with Bitcoin lately.

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3:06am

Fri November 15, 2013
Planet Money

What's A Bubble?

Originally published on Sun November 17, 2013 1:58 pm

Robert Shiller and Eugene Fama shared this year's Nobel Memorial Prize.
AP

Robert Shiller was surprised when he got the call telling him he'd won the Nobel Memorial Prize in economics — surprised that he'd won (of course), but also surprised that he was sharing the award with Eugene Fama.

"He and I seem to have very different views," Shiller told me. "It's like we're different religions."

In particular, they have very different views about economic bubbles.

"The word 'bubble' drives me nuts, frankly," Fama told me.

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3:00am

Thu October 10, 2013
Planet Money

What A U.S. Default Would Mean For Pensions, China And Social Security

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 12:38 pm

iStockphoto.com

What would happen if Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling and the U.S. defaults on its debt later this month? The broad economic implications are unpredictable, but a default could cause huge trouble for the global economy.

But whatever happens to the global economy, one thing is clear: People all over the world who have loaned the U.S. government money won't get paid on time.

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2:42pm

Tue October 8, 2013
The Two-Way

An Aerogramme From Professor Higgs, Nobel Winner

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 6:02 pm

Letter from Peter Higgs
David Kestenbaum NPR

Well, it's happened. British scientist Peter Higgs has won a Nobel Prize for proposing the Higgs boson particle as part of a mechanism that explains how things in the universe came to have mass.

Higgs seems to be lying low today so far — a colleague told The New York Times that Higgs had "gone off by himself for a few days without saying where" and that a reporter seeking an interview recently had been "sent away with a flea in his ear."

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3:36am

Mon September 30, 2013
Planet Money

One Key Thing No One Knows About Obamacare

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 7:44 am

Getty Images

Tuesday is a big day for Obamacare. The online marketplaces where people can shop for health insurance are supposed to open for business.

No one really knows who is going to sign up — not the Obama administration, not the insurance industry, not the president's critics. Yet the success of the law hangs on this question: Will the right mix of people sign up? In particular, will healthy people buy health insurance?

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3:21am

Mon September 2, 2013
Planet Money

Ecuador To World: Pay Up To Save The Rainforest. World To Ecuador: Meh.

Originally published on Mon September 2, 2013 7:04 pm

An aerial view of the Yasuni National Park, in Ecuador's northeastern jungle.
Dolores Ochoa AP

The government of Ecuador has abandoned a plan that would have kept part of the Amazonian rainforest off limits to oil drilling. The initiative was an unusual one: Ecuador was promising to keep the oil in the ground, but it wanted to be paid for doing so.

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4:55pm

Fri August 23, 2013
Planet Money

Cash, Cows And The Rise Of Nerd Philanthropy

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 9:12 pm

A family in western Kenya received this cow as part of a Heifer International program.
NPR

For more of our reporting on this story, please see our recent column in the New York Times Magazine, and the latest episode of This American Life.

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3:24am

Fri August 23, 2013
Planet Money

The Charity That Just Gives Money To Poor People

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 1:41 pm

Bernard Omondi got $1,000 from GiveDirectly.
Jacob Goldstein NPR

For more of our reporting on this story, please see our recent column in the New York Times Magazine, and the latest episode of This American Life.

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10:03pm

Thu July 4, 2013
Planet Money

Why Doesn't Everybody Buy Cheap, Generic Headache Medicine?

Originally published on Fri July 5, 2013 9:03 pm

Same pills. Lower price.
Paul Sancya AP

Why does anyone buy Bayer aspirin — or Tylenol, or Advil — when, almost always, there's a bottle of cheaper generic pills, with the same active ingredient, sitting right next to the brand-name pills?

Matthew Gentzkow, an economist at the University of Chicago's Booth school, recently tried to answer this question. Along with a few colleagues, Gentzkow set out to test a hypothesis: Maybe people buy the brand-name pills because they just don't know that the generic version is basically the same thing.

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3:46am

Fri June 28, 2013
Planet Money

Economists Have A One-Page Solution To Climate Change

Originally published on Fri June 28, 2013 10:45 am

CX Matiash AP

Climate change seems like this complicated problem with a million pieces. But Henry Jacoby, an economist at MIT's business school, says there's really just one thing you need to do to solve the problem: Tax carbon emissions.

"If you let the economists write the legislation," Jacoby says, "it could be quite simple." He says he could fit the whole bill on one page.

Basically, Jacoby would tax fossil fuels in proportion to the amount of carbon they release. That would make coal, oil and natural gas more expensive. That's it; that's the whole plan.

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3:03am

Thu June 20, 2013
Planet Money

A Surprising Barrier To Clean Water: Human Nature

Originally published on Mon June 24, 2013 10:38 am

Rodan Gatia gets water from a spring. A chlorine dispenser is behind her.
Jacob Goldstein NPR

In many parts of the developing world, drinking a glass of water can be deadly — especially for young children, who can die of diarrheal diseases contracted from dirty water.

So getting clean water to people in the developing world has been a top priority for aid groups for a long time. But it's been a surprisingly hard problem to solve.

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3:30am

Thu April 25, 2013
Planet Money

Lady Gaga Writing A New Song Is Like A Factory Investing In A New Machine

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 2:46 am

But is it GDP?
Charles Sykes AP

I spoke yesterday with Dan Sichel, a Wellesley economist and a Lady Gaga fan. Both of these facts are relevant for this story.

The U.S. government is about to tweak the way it measures the economy, and some of the biggest changes will affect the entertainment industry.

Under the current system, Sichel told me, Lady Gaga's sales of concert tickets, online songs and CDs all count toward gross domestic product. But the value of the time she spends in the studio working on new songs isn't counted. That's about to change.

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3:41am

Thu March 28, 2013
Planet Money

When A Famous Hospital Didn't Want An Expensive New Drug

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 10:03 am

Andrei Tchernov iStockphoto.com

Last year, a new drug called Zaltrap was approved as a kind of last-chance therapy for patients with colorectal cancer. Studies suggested Zaltrap worked almost exactly as well as an existing drug called Avastin. In fact, the main difference between the two drugs seemed to be the price.

"I was rather stunned," Dr. Leonard Saltz, who specializes in colorectal cancer, told me.

Zaltrap costs about $11,000 per month — about twice as much as Avastin, Saltz said.

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3:05am

Thu February 21, 2013
Planet Money

Three Ways To Totally Transform U.S. Immigration Policy

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 10:42 am

Immigrants wait for their citizenship interviews at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Jan. 29.
John Moore Getty Images

With immigration policy in the news again, I asked three economists, "Dream big: If you could create any immigration policy for the U.S., what would it be?" Here's what they said.

1. The Best And The Brightest

Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research would give out more visas to highly skilled workers: scientists, engineers, computer programmers and doctors.

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3:34am

Thu February 7, 2013
Planet Money

'Give Me The Money Or I'll Shoot The Trees'

Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 3:07 pm

Pay up, or the bird gets it. (A hoatzin perches on a branch in Yasuni National Park.)
Pablo Cozzaglio AFP/Getty Images

Ecuador's Yasuni National Park is one of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth. But there's a complication: The park sits on top of the equivalent of millions of barrels of oil.

This creates a dilemma.

Ecuador prides itself on being pro-environment. Its constitution gives nature special rights. But Ecuador is a relatively poor country that could desperately use the money from the oil.

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6:29am

Fri February 1, 2013
Planet Money

An International Battle Over One Of The Most Boring Things In Finance

Originally published on Tue February 12, 2013 11:26 am

Jeremy O'Donnell Getty Images

This week saw the end of a years-long, international, multi-billion-dollar battle over one of the most boring things in finance: savings accounts.

At the center of the battle was Iceland, a tiny country where the banks grew into international behemoths during the credit bubble.

The banks got so big partly by convincing foreigners to open up online savings accounts. In particular, lots of people in England and Netherlands opened up "ICESAVE accounts" with a bank called Landsbanki. During the financial crisis, the bank collapsed.

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3:27am

Thu January 10, 2013
Planet Money

The North Dakota Town Where A One-Bedroom Apartment Rents For $2,100 A Month

Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 3:04 pm

Yours, for $2,100 a month
Josh Marston

A plain, one-bedroom apartment in Williston, N.D., rents for $2,100 a month. For this price, you could rent a one-bedroom apartment in New York City.

Williston is not New York City. There are 30,000 residents and one department store. The nearest city is two hours away.

Rents are so high in Williston because the town is in the middle of an oil boom. Unemployment is below 1 percent, and workers are flooding into town.

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