Robert Krulwich

Robert Krulwich is a correspondent for NPR's Science Desk, reporting on the intersections of science and technology with culture, politics and religion. His specialty is explaining complex news — economics, technology, science — in a style that is clear, compelling and entertaining. "I like talking about 'invisible ideas' and trying to find a way to explain what you've learned so people can grasp it," he said.

Additionally, Krulwich co-hosts WNYC's NPR-distributed scientific documentary series Radio Lab with host/producer Jad Abumrad and serves as substitute host on NPR news magazines and talk programs including Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation.

Krulwich first joined NPR in 1978 and served as economics reporter until 1985 when he joined CBS News. Since 1994, Krulwich has been an ABC News correspondent, appearing regularly on Nightline, World News Tonight and Good Morning America. He contributed to NPR occasionally until his recent return to NPR.

With Ted Koppel, he co-hosted an eight-part primetime series "Brave New World," which probed the "eight biggest questions facing humankind." With Peter Jennings, he produced an animated history of Bosnia for a children's special. With Barbara Walters, he explored possible cures for cancer.

Krulwich has been called "the most inventive network reporter in television" by TV Guide, "the man who makes the dismal science swing" by the Washington Journalism Review, and "the man who simplifies without being simple" by New York magazine.

He is also a regular correspondent on the PBS investigative series Frontline where he won an Alfred I duPont-Columbia University Award for his coverage of campaign finance in the 1992 presidential campaign, a national Emmy Award for his investigation of privacy on the Internet, "High Stakes in Cyberspace"; and a George Polk Award for an hour on the savings and loan scandal. His ABC special on Barbie, a cultural history of the world-famous doll, also won a national Emmy.

Krulwich has also anchored a cultural affairs series on PBS (and a simultaneous series on the BBC) called The Edge. He has also hosted Live From Lincoln Center and appeared on Jay Leno's premiere Tonight Show broadcast.

Once a year Krulwich hosts a semi-fictional year-in-review called "Backfire," with friends Jane Curtin, Buck Henry and Tony Hendra. In 1995, the group performed at the White House at the invitation of President and Mrs. Clinton.

He has received numerous awards for his reporting, including the Extraordinary Communicator Award from the National Cancer Institute in 2000, four consecutive Gainsbrugh Awards from the Economics Broadcasting Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science Excellence in Television Award in 2001 for a NOVA special on the human genome. TV Guide named Krulwich to its All Star reporting team; and Esquire placed him in its Esquire Registry in 1989. In 1974, Krulwich covered the Watergate hearings for Pacifica Radio and in 1976, he was Washington bureau chief for Rolling Stone magazine.

Krulwich received a bachelor's degree in U.S. history from Oberlin College in 1969, and a Juris Doctorate from Columbia Law School in 1974. He lives in New York City with his wife, Tamar Lewin, a national reporter for the New York Times. They have two children, Jesse and Nora Ann.

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12:03pm

Wed July 23, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

An Animal Makes A $10,000 Deposit, But Not At The Bank

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 2:05 pm

Courtesy of I.M. Chait

It's a highly specialized category to be sure: "Longest." But that's what the auctioneer is selling. According to the catalog of I.M. Chait Gallery, in Beverly Hills, "This truly spectacular specimen is possibly the longest example of coprolite ever to be offered at auction."

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1:55pm

Tue July 22, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

What's Better Than A Total Eclipse Of The Sun? Check This

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 2:54 pm

NASA/JPL-Caltech

Any eclipse is worth seeing. A total eclipse — where the moon completely blots out the sun, where day turns to night, where solar flares ring the moon's shadow like a crown of flame — that's the eclipse everybody wants to see, the alpha eclipse that eclipses all the other eclipses. Everybody knows this (me included), until I saw this ...

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11:51am

Wed July 16, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Neil Whosis? What You Don't Know About The 1969 Moon Landing

Originally published on Sun July 20, 2014 1:29 am

Robert Krulwich NPR

Forty-five years ago, this week, 123 million of us watched Neil and Buzz step onto the moon. In 1969, we numbered about 200 million, so more than half of America was in the audience that day. Neil Armstrong instantly became a household name, an icon, a hero. And then — and this, I bet, you didn't know — just as quickly, he faded away.

"Whatever Happened to Neil Whosis?" asked the Chicago Tribune in 1974.

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5:30am

Sun July 13, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

The Most Astonishing Wave-Tracking Experiment Ever

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 9:58 am

Sean Gallup Getty Images

I'm standing on a beach and I see, a few hundred yards out, a mound of water heading right at me. It's not a wave, not yet, but a swollen patch of ocean, like the top of a moving beach ball, what sailors call a "swell." As it gets closer, its bottom hits the rising shore below, forcing the water up, then over, sending it tumbling onto the beach, a tongue of foam coming right up to my toes — and that's when I look down, as the wave melts into the sand and I say,

"Hi, I'm from New York. But what about you? Where are you from?"

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7:03am

Wed July 9, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

A Tough Little Droplet Fights To Stick Around

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 3:58 pm

Zach Heller Flickr

7:03am

Sun July 6, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Tell Me, Wave, Where Did You Come From? Who Made You?

Originally published on Mon July 7, 2014 12:27 pm

Robert Krulwich NPR

"I'm sitting next to a swimming pool and somebody dives in," says the great physicist Richard Feynman in a conversation recorded in 1983. Other people jump in as well.

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7:10am

Wed July 2, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Watch It Swallow An Entire Tree In Seconds

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 7:03 am

deniscimafinc YouTube

5:18am

Sun June 29, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Her Baby Is At Risk: Lauren's Story

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 3:55 pm

Courtesy of Lauren R. Weinstein/Nautilus

They're odds. That's all they are. Not fate, just probabilities. Lauren Weinstein, cartoonist, is having a baby, and she's told — out of the blue — that she and her husband are both carriers of the gene that causes cystic fibrosis. They are sent to a genetic counselor. What happens next — told in five beautifully drawn, emotionally eloquent cartoons — tells what it's like to walk the edge for a few weeks. She's so many things (sad, funny, scared, puzzled), and then there's the ender. Take a look.

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1:48pm

Thu June 26, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

What Not To Serve Buzzards For Lunch, A Glorious Science Experiment

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 5:07 pm

Robert Krulwich NPR

OK, I'm doing great science experiments. We've done sex (see previous post). On to lunch!

This is the story of a bird, a puzzle, and a painting. The painting, curiously, helped solve the puzzle, which is: How do vultures find food?

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11:26am

Wed June 25, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Two Glorious Science Experiments: One About Sex, The Other About Lunch

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 4:19 pm

Robert Krulwich NPR

Done right, a good science experiment is simple, clear and revealing. Done splendidly, it's a tale you don't forget. Let's do the sex one first. It took place in Italy, in the 1760s, when a Catholic priest and scholar, Lazzaro Spallanzani, was thinking about sperm — which is why he decided to dress frogs in pants, like this ...

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4:56am

Sun June 22, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Man Floats Free In Hotel Corridor

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 1:09 pm

Storyboard P dance down a hall in London.
BD YouTube

We live in a sea of air. It holds us, weighs on us, keeps us tethered. The earth, of course, holds us too, keeps us pinned. But not all of us. I want you to meet Storyboard P, a dancer who floats.

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9:46am

Fri June 20, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Wrong! Deconstructing 5 Famous History Stories

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 10:46 am

CGP Grey YouTube

7:31am

Mon June 16, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Lights, Lights, Lights, Action! A Crazy New Light Projector

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 12:25 pm

A dandypunk Vimeo

What can you do with a spotlight?

You can light a spot.

But what if you give yourself more options and invent a tool that lets light spill, splash or tighten into a beam as thin as a pencil line — a beam of light that can draw!

Draw what? Oh my God, so many things: a galloping unicorn, a friendly girl, a guy who kicks you in the face, a wormhole, a ball that splashes into a fluid, a cube, a spiral, a rabbit, a squid, a scribble.

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5:48am

Sat June 14, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Unstealing Treasures: A Reverse Burglary

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 2:58 pm

MinutePhysics and RadioLab

I've got this friend, Craig. He's not exactly an outlaw, but if the world needs something moved that is not supposed to be moved, he will move it anyway. Only in the interest of justice. Like Batman.

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6:03am

Wed June 11, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

How We Learned That Frogs Fly

Originally published on Wed June 11, 2014 10:51 am

Robert Krulwich NPR

There are places where frogs could be — but aren't.

And places where frogs could be — and are.

Ninety years ago, scientists were debating the question of animal dispersal. How come there are kangaroos in Australia, and none in southern Africa --which seems, environmentally, very kangaroo-friendly? Certain frogs show up in warm ponds in one part of the world, but warm ponds a thousand miles away have none. Why?

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7:03am

Wed June 4, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

How Chocolate Might Save The Planet

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 12:11 pm

Robert Krulwich NPR

When you unwrap it, break off a piece and stick it in your mouth, it doesn't remind you of the pyramids, a suspension bridge or a skyscraper; but chocolate, says materials scientist Mark Miodownik, "is one of our greatest engineering creations."

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12:29pm

Wed May 28, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

A Little Bird Either Learns Its Name Or Dies

Robert Krulwich NPR

I've been wondering lately, do animals invent names? As in names for themselves? Names for each other? I've always thought that what we do when we call ourselves "Ralph" or "Laura" is unique, something exclusively human. But it turns out that's wrong. Other animals have name-like calls that they use much like we do. I've posted about this before (regarding horses, dolphins and little parakeets) ...

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7:03am

Sun May 25, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

A Young Woman Falls In Love With Everything

Xiangjun Shi Vimeo

You start with difference, with mystery. Some things spiral, some become spheres, some branch, some don't. We know that inert atoms quicken, become bees, goats, clouds, then dissolve back into randomness. We look at these things, all these very, very different things, and we wonder, are they really different, or is every thing we see one thing, expressed differently? Does the universe have rules? How many? Could there be a single generating principle, a oneness?

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2:26pm

Thu May 22, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Jupiter's Dot And Mine. Why Life Is Unfair

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 11:58 am

Robert Krulwich NPR

When I was 9, my dad drew this picture of me. You will notice something on my left cheek — a little brown spot.

That's a mole. The doctor called it "a birthmark." My mom called it "a beauty mark." I was born with it. Having grown up before supermodel Cindy Crawford became famous, I was not familiar with the allure of beauty marks and, anyway, I'm a guy. My mom said it was hardly noticeable. I didn't believe her.

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7:03am

Wed May 21, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

So What If It's Ugly? It Just Keeps On Going ...

Courtesy of Rachel Sussman

Far, far, far away is a great place to be — if you want to stay marvelous. There is a plant, called Welwitschia mirabilis (mirabilis being Latin for marvelous), found only one place on Earth. You can get there, as artist/photographer Rachel Sussman did, by driving through the vast emptiness of the Namibian desert, the Namib Naukluft, in Africa.

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5:27am

Sun May 18, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Intriguing Lime-Green Blobs Appear In The Andes Mountains. Are They Alive?

Originally published on Mon May 19, 2014 10:09 am

Courtesy of Terrace Lodge

Oops.

Someone dropped lime sherbet on the desert — and it's melting. Who's going to clean this up?

Nobody. Because this — believe it or not — is a plant. It may look like a glob of goo, but it's not at all gooey. It's solid to the touch — so solid that a man can lie on top of it and not sink in, not even a little.

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12:25pm

Fri May 16, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

When Numbers Bleed, Freeze, Starve And Die On A Battlefield: The Dark Poetry Of Data

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 4:43 pm

Roger Viollet Collection Getty Images

6:49am

Thu May 15, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

How To Marry The Right Girl: A Mathematical Solution

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 2:34 pm

Robert Krulwich NPR

Poor Johannes Kepler. One of the greatest astronomers ever, the man who figured out the laws of planetary motion, a genius, scholar and mathematician — in 1611, he needed a wife. The previous Mrs. Kepler had died of Hungarian spotted fever, so, with kids to raise and a household to manage, he decided to line up some candidates — but it wasn't going very well.

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5:33am

Sun May 11, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Did Homer Simpson Actually Solve Fermat's Last Theorem? Take A Look

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 8:18 am

Numberphile YouTube

7:03am

Wed May 7, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Draw My Left! No, No, My Other Left! A Hidden Bias In Art History Revealed

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 9:48 am

Robert Krulwich NPR

Look at this guy.

He is half-smiley, half-frowny. I drew the mouth carefully to make it equal parts sad and happy.

But when you look at him — take him in whole — would you say he's having a good day or a bad day?

Most people would say: good day. He seems a little more smiley than not.

That's because, says science writer Sam Kean, when we look at somebody, the left side of that person's face is more emotionally powerful and "determines the overall emotional tenor."

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5:05am

Sun May 4, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Listen To These Lovely Cats. No, Actually, Don't

John Pitcher iStockphoto

10:37am

Fri May 2, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

'Wassup, Sheep?' He Asked

Originally published on Fri May 2, 2014 2:39 pm

YouTube

2:33pm

Tue April 29, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Plants Talk. Plants Listen. Here's How

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 10:06 am

Robert Krulwich NPR

They don't have eyes. Or ears. Or what we would call a nervous system. But plants can talk. And they listen. Let me show you how.

First, we'll need a plant eater. This one's perfect: It's an aphid, a hungry little critter who loves to munch on fresh, green leaves ...

Next, we arrange lunch. We choose a bunch of young, healthy bean plants with lots of broad, green leaves ...

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8:03am

Sat April 26, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Come Dance With Me

Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 12:34 pm

Urban Dance Camp YouTube

12:32pm

Fri April 25, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

'Don't Touch Me,' Said Canada. 'I Won't!' Said The U.S.A. So They Moved 20 Feet Apart

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 6:55 pm

National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque / Library and Archives Canada

The U.S. and Canada may be as lovey-dovey as two neighbors can get, but according to this charming video history by CGP Grey, both countries agreed to tuck themselves a little bit in, 10 feet back for America, 10 feet back for Canada, creating a corridor of open, surveillable, clear space between them.

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