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.

Pages

12:19pm

Mon July 28, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Where The Birds Are Is Not Where You'd Think

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 7:33 pm

Robert Krulwich/NPR

This is a trick question. Where would you expect to find the greatest variety of birds?

Downtown, in a city?

Or far, far from downtown — in the fields, forests, mountains, where people are scarce?

Or in the suburbs? In backyards, lawns, parking lots and playing fields?

Not the city, right?

Read more

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."

Read more

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 ...

Read more

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.

Read more

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?"

Read more

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.

Read more

7:03am

Wed July 2, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Watch It Swallow An Entire Tree In Seconds

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.

Read more

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?

Read more

11:21am

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 ...

Read more

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.

Read more

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

7:37am

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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?

Read more

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."

Read more

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) ...

Read more

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?

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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."

Read more

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 ...

Read more

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

Pages