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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12:33pm

Wed April 23, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Music That Burns, Literally

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 4:49 pm

Veritasium/YouTube

7:10am

Tue April 22, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Introducing A Divorce Rate For Birds, And Guess Which Bird Never, Ever Divorces?

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 7:06 pm

Robert Krulwich/NPR

There is love. And then there's albatross love.

In his new book, The Thing With Feathers, Noah Strycker says albatrosses have a knack for coupling. "These globe trotters, who mate for life and are incredibly faithful to their partners, just might have the most intense love affairs of any animal on our planet," he writes.

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11:03am

Sat April 19, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

So This Is How They Do It! Zebras Getting Stripes

Originally published on Sat April 19, 2014 12:42 pm

Ricardo Solis

How did it happen? How'd the zebra get its stripes?

In Rudyard Kipling's version, a gray, horsey-looking beast went into "a great forest 'sclusively full of trees and bushes and stripy, speckly, patchy-batchy shadows," stayed there awhile, and after a "long time"... got stripy.

OK. Not bad.

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1:57pm

Thu April 17, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

'Why Am I Dead?' He Never Asked. Here's The Answer He Never Heard

Robert Krulwich NPR

Shara Yurkiewicz is a med student. She's doing rounds now, moving from department to department. Much of what she sees, she's seeing for the first time. Not yet a doctor, there are moments, many moments when she has the eyes of a patient. She gets scared. She feels helpless. She's too involved. She's at that place in her training where everything is so sharp, so new, she feels the full, fresh stab of it, and sometimes, very privately, she bleeds.

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11:34am

Wed April 16, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

The Ultimate Animal Experience? Losing A Memory Quiz To A Chimp

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 1:34 pm

Time to be embarrassed. You're about to be bested by a young chimpanzee in a memory test.

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5:39am

Sat April 5, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

The Power Of Poop: A Whale Story

Originally published on Mon April 7, 2014 1:46 pm

Robert Krulwich NPR

This, I would think, should be self-evident: Generally speaking, big creatures eat smaller creatures that, in turn, eat even smaller creatures, like this ...

And just as obviously, one would expect the food chain to be pyramid-shaped: a few big creatures at the top eating more middle-sized creatures in the middle, that eat many, many, many little creatures at the bottom, like so:

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12:59pm

Thu April 3, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

'Oh, Hello,' Says Andrew, As He Suddenly Grabs You By The Leg Or Neck

Originally published on Thu April 3, 2014 2:22 pm

Andrew Ucles YouTube

Some people like a nice walk, some a gentle run, others a cup of tea. But not Andrew Ucles. There is nothing relaxed about Andrew. You can find him chasing after wild animals on his videos, grabbing them with his bare hands and then, while they squiggle, scratch and lunge, he tells them, "Settle, settle," shows them to the camera, brags a little and lets them go.

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1:45pm

Tue April 1, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

The List Of Animals Who Can Truly, Really Dance Is Very Short. Who's On It?

Originally published on Wed April 2, 2014 3:05 pm

Courtesy of Irena Schulz/ Bird Lovers Only

5:03am

Sat March 22, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

I Can't Believe What I'm Seeing: A Springtime (Froggy) Miracle

Originally published on Sat March 22, 2014 11:19 am

NOVA scienceNOW

Two weeks ago this animal was frozen solid. If you found one in the woods, packed in the topsoil, hiding under a leaf, you could pull it from the ground and it would feel like an ashtray. You could bang it (lightly) on a table — it would go, "Konk!" like a rock. It doesn't seem to be breathing. It reacts to nothing. It's so dead. Or seems to be. And then, this (I want to call it a miracle) happens ...

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4:43pm

Tue March 18, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

An Imaginary Town Becomes Real, Then Not. True Story

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 5:38 pm

Booklist American Library Association

This is the story of a totally made-up place that suddenly became real — and then, strangely, undid itself and became a fantasy again. Imagine Pinocchio becoming a real boy and then going back to being a puppet. That's what happened here — but this is a true story.

It's about a place in upstate New York called Agloe. You can see it here, circled in blue ...

... just up the road from Roscoe and Rockland.

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7:08am

Thu January 9, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

A Rain Forest Begins With Rain, Right? Is This A Trick Question?

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 1:50 pm

MinuteEarth YouTube

Think of a rain forest — rich with trees, covered by clouds, wet all the time.

Then ask yourself, how did this rain forest get started?

I ask, because the answer is so going to surprise you. It's not what you think.

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8:27am

Wed January 8, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Am I Going To Die This Year? A Mathematical Puzzle

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 12:56 pm

Robert Krulwich NPR

A few years ago, physicist Brian Skinner asked himself: What are the odds I will die in the next year? He was 25. What got him wondering about this, I have no idea, but, hey, it's something everybody asks. When I can't wedge my dental floss between my two front teeth, I ask it, too. So Brian looked up the answer — there are tables for this kind of thingand what he discovered is interesting. Very interesting. Even mysterious.

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4:33am

Sun January 5, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Oh Say, Can You See? A Musical Salute

Jon Batiste star-spangles our banner.
YouTube

Some things are so familiar, so fixed in our heads, that we stop noticing them. Buckle-your-seat-belt instructions in an airplane, for example. You don't have to listen. You know the drill.

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8:33am

Sat January 4, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Billboards That Drop Angels On Your Head

Originally published on Sat January 4, 2014 10:57 pm

YouTube

7:47am

Fri January 3, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

'You're Invisible, But I'll Eat You Anyway.' Secrets Of Snow-Diving Foxes

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 1:57 pm

Robert Krulwich NPR

I'm a fox. It's January. I'm hungry. I want a meal. My food, however, is buried 3 feet down, deep in the snow, hiding. It's alive, in motion, and very small, being a mouse. So how does an above-ground fox catch an underground mouse? Well, the answer is nothing short of astonishing. Here's a fox:

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7:43am

Tue December 31, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

Animal Loses Head But Remembers Everything

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 12:28 pm

Robert Krulwich NPR

When I first saw this," says cell biologist Alejandro Sanchez Alvarado, "it was with total amazement."

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1:57pm

Mon December 23, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

What Chickadees Have That I Want. Badly

Robert Krulwich NPR

First I look in my right coat pocket. Nothing. Then my left. Nothing. Then my pants, right side — no. Then my pants, left side — yes! This is me at my front door, looking for my keys. Every day.

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6:27am

Fri December 20, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

One Man. One Cat. Multiplied

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 11:08 am

Courtesy of Mike Holmes

We start with a man called Mike and a cat called Ella. Two creatures.

Nothing odd about them, except that Mike has a beard and Ella is a touch chunky. Otherwise, they could be any cat and guy. Except ...

When you think about it, no one is ordinary. You could put a totally bland cat-and-guy couple in front of a hundred people, ask them to look, and each one would see a very different pair, different in a thousand subtle ways, because everybody looks at everything with different eyes.

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7:33am

Sat November 30, 2013

8:08am

Thu November 28, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

On Thanksgiving, Everybody Needs A Friend — And That Means Everybody

Blue_Cutler iStockphoto

Last December, a website called The Morning News asked me to describe the most important and unimportant events of my year. So I sent them a story that felt like both to me, something slight but at the same time deeply rich. Now that it's Thanksgiving, I'm going to post it here because it's about two girls who want the best for everybody — and that can get complicated.

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10:56am

Tue November 26, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

Born Wet, Human Babies Are 75 Percent Water. Then Comes Drying

Robert Krulwich NPR

Look at this baby.

Lovely, no? Now think of this baby abstractly — as a sack of hundreds of millions of atoms. Here's the atomic formula for a new human being, arranged by elements, according to scientist Neil Shubin.

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12:03pm

Fri September 6, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

What We Can Never, Ever Know: Does Science Have Limits?

Originally published on Fri September 6, 2013 1:10 pm

iStockphoto.com

I got two books in the mail that, if they could have, would've poked, scratched and ripped each others' pages out. I don't know if Martin Gardner and Patricia Churchland ever met, but their books show that there are radically, even ferociously, different ways to think about science. Gardner died last year. He was a science writer whose monthly "Mathematical Games" column in Scientific American was wildly popular. Patricia Churchland is a philosopher who teaches at U.C. San Diego.

The issue between them is: How much can we know about the universe?

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8:33am

Thu September 5, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

Wild Things Hanging From Spruce Trees

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 10:45 am

Robert Krulwich NPR

Stanley Kunitz, one of our great poets, planted a spruce tree next to his house in Provincetown, Mass., and over the years that tree attracted some tenants, a family of garden snakes. I didn't know garden snakes climb trees, especially needly ones like a spruce, but they do.

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1:25pm

Tue September 3, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

How To Build Little Doors Inside Your Shell: The Secrets of Snail Carpentry

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 3:03 pm

Robert Krulwich NPR

"I am going to withdraw from the world," says a snail in Hans Christian Andersen's tale The Snail and the Rosebush. "Nothing that happens there is any concern of mine."

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11:02am

Fri August 30, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

Drone It To Me, Baby

Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 4:18 pm

Jasper van Loenen/Vimeo

Spies used them first, then the Air Force, then cops, then mischievous civilians; drones, for some reason, are what gawkers use to gawk. They're spy accessories. But not only spy accessories. Thanks to Jasper van Loenen, drones are about to expand their repertoire. The word "drone" is about to become a verb, as in "Drone it to me"...

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12:34pm

Wed August 28, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

How To Disappear When Someone's Spying On You

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 6:32 pm

Courtesy of Adam Harvey

10:39am

Mon June 17, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

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

Originally published on Tue June 18, 2013 9:53 am

YouTube

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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10:42am

Wed June 5, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

MIT's Magic Bag Of Sand

Originally published on Wed June 5, 2013 10:48 am

NMANewsDirect You Tube

11:45am

Tue April 30, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

The Boomerang Rocket Ship: Shoot It Up, Back It Comes

YouTube

What in heaven's name is happening here?

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11:55am

Wed April 17, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

A 'Whom Do You Hang With?' Map Of America

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 1:31 pm

MIT Senseable City - "The Connected States of America"
MIT Senseable City Lab

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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