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

Krulwich Wonders...
11:42 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Is That A Lark I Hear? A Nightingale? Surprise! It's A Bat

Quoctrung Bui NPR

Originally published on Mon October 6, 2014 1:19 pm

Bats produce "pings" or "clicks," right? They make these high-pitched sounds, too high for us to hear, but when their cries ricochet off distant objects, the echoes tell them there's a house over there, a tree in front of them, a moth flying over on the left. And so they "see" by echolocation. That's their thing. They are famously good at it.

Read more
Krulwich Wonders...
4:48 am
Sun September 28, 2014

2 Ways To Think About Nothing, One Mo' Time

NASA

This being my last weekend with this blog, I wanted to repost a story I wrote a few years ago that has continued to intrigue me ...

I'm going to show you two kinds of nothing.

Read more
Krulwich Wonders...
10:55 am
Fri September 19, 2014

'Murdersquishing' Them To Death: How Little Bees Take On Enormous Hornets

Courtesy of Matt Inman

Originally published on Fri September 19, 2014 2:28 pm

I know, I know. You have Putin to worry about, ISIS to worry about, Britain's near breaking, Washington's broken, and the globe keeps getting warmer — so why bring up Japanese giant hornets? You have worries enough. But I can't help myself. I've got to mention these hornets because, as bad as they are — and they are very, very bad ...

... this story has a happy ending.

Hornets From Hell

Read more
Krulwich Wonders...
6:03 am
Sun September 14, 2014

Howling Babies Drove Prehistoric Warriors Into Battle?

iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon September 15, 2014 9:26 am

If you have ever seen, or spent time with (or, God forbid, had to live with) a colicky baby, this will make perfect sense to you. It may not make actual sense, but when the baby is crying you don't think very straight.

Read more
Krulwich Wonders...
11:51 am
Fri September 12, 2014

What Makes A Star Starry? Is It Me?

Courtesy of Tyler Nordgen

Originally published on Fri September 12, 2014 4:55 pm

Read more
Krulwich Wonders...
4:44 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Souls Tumbling In The Light

BirdCast YouTube

Originally published on Thu September 11, 2014 11:58 am

Every year on Sept. 11, this happens ...

When it gets dark, New York City turns on 88 7,000-watt xenon light bulbs to produce two powerful beams that shoot up, side by side, to remind us that once upon a time, two towers stood here, and then didn't, and this is how we remember the day they came down — by looking up.

Read more
Krulwich Wonders...
5:47 am
Sun September 7, 2014

Mapping What You Cannot See, Cannot Know, Cannot Visit

Nature Video YouTube

Originally published on Mon September 8, 2014 11:54 am

When I was a boy I had a globe. I could take it in my hands, rest it on my lap, give it a spin and look down on Africa, Europe, North America and Asia spinning by.

Read more
Krulwich Wonders...
5:03 am
Fri September 5, 2014

Building Me: A Puzzlement

Originally published on Fri September 5, 2014 2:01 pm

It's a puzzle — the deepest puzzle I know. The question is: What are we?

One answer, from physicist-novelist Alan Lightman, is we are stuff. Just stuff.

Read more
Krulwich Wonders...
6:03 am
Thu September 4, 2014

Glenn Gould In Rapture

Gordon Parks The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 4, 2014 8:15 am

What's going on here, I can only guess, but here's what you're about to see: In the video below, the great musician Glenn Gould, supreme interpreter of Bach, is sitting at his living room piano on a low, low chair, his nose close to the keys. He's at his Canadian country house in his bathrobe.

Read more
Krulwich Wonders...
3:57 am
Sun August 24, 2014

Roadways You Can Install Like Throw Rugs

Courtesy of Erik Johansson

Magic carpets you know about. Aladdin had one. But how about this?

Read more
Krulwich Wonders...
11:49 am
Thu August 21, 2014

When Venus Was Filled With Venusians — 50 Billion Of Them

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Thu September 4, 2014 11:13 am

What a difference 180 years makes.

Back in the 1830s, a Scottish minister and amateur astronomer named Thomas Dick tried to calculate the number of intelligent creatures in the universe. He assumed that all heavenly bodies supported intelligent life, maybe not exactly like us, but similar to us in size and habits of living. Then he took population figures for Great Britain and, assuming that space aliens lived just as densely, he projected populations onto various planets.

Read more
Krulwich Wonders...
6:03 am
Wed August 20, 2014

If You're Born In The Sky, What's Your Nationality? An Airplane Puzzler

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Wed August 20, 2014 8:52 am

Here's a puzzle I bet you've never pondered.

Imagine you are very, very pregnant. For the purposes of this mind game, you are a married American woman (with an American spouse) and you are about to board a plane and, pregnant as you are, they let you on.

Your flight, on Lufthansa Airlines, will leave Frankfurt, Germany, and travel nonstop to the Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean. Germany is cold, wet and unhappy-making, and you crave the aquamarine waters, the balmy skies of the Maldives.

Read more
Krulwich Wonders...
6:03 am
Fri August 15, 2014

When Snails Lose Their Way

Vi Hart YouTube

Originally published on Fri August 15, 2014 12:25 pm

Read more
Krulwich Wonders...
11:44 am
Tue August 12, 2014

Elemental Storytelling

Courtesy of Thomas Doyle

Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 7:10 pm

There's a photograph I know that shows a kid's bicycle lying on its side, one wheel turned upright, a smear of blood tracing its path on the concrete. There's a little package still latched to the back, waiting for its owner to return. You can see where the bike swerved, then lost its way. Someone's been hurt. Or worse. The blood is still damp, the trail fresh. Whose blood was it? A child's, I imagine — from an accident? A shooting? The photo was taken by Annie Leibovitz during a war in Yugoslavia.

Read more
Krulwich Wonders...
6:03 am
Thu August 7, 2014

What A Balloon Shouldn't Do, But For Some Reason Does

SmarterEveryDay YouTube

Read more
Krulwich Wonders...
1:26 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

How To Cross 5 International Borders In 1 Minute Without Sweating

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Thu August 7, 2014 12:25 pm

So many nations are breaking up. Ukraine is in pieces. Moldova is teetering. Libya has no government to speak of. Sudan broke in two last year; now both sides are fighting. Yugoslavia is seven countries. Nigeria has a Christian/Muslim split. Syria has split so many ways it's barely there. Even Scotland is thinking of ditching Great Britain. With every break, we get new lines, new fences, new borders — further evidence of our failure to amalgamate, to get along.

The more borders we have, the more quarrels, the more wars. That's one way to think about borders — they're trouble.

Read more
Krulwich Wonders...
6:03 am
Sat August 2, 2014

Guess Who's Been Waiting In The Lobby For A Hundred Million Years?

Tanaka/Flickr

Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 10:22 am

Sometimes the quiet ones surprise us.

Take moss — those fuzzy green pads you see on the sides of old trees, or hanging onto rocks. Who notices moss? It's just ... there, doing whatever it does — so slowly, so terribly slowly, that nobody bothers to think about it. Moss creeps up tree bark, sits quietly on crevasses in rocks. Moss is an old, old life form, one of the earliest plants to attach to land around 450 million years ago. It's very patient, very modest — but when you look closely, you discover it has super powers.

Pow! Crunch! Zap!

Read more
Krulwich Wonders...
11:19 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Where The Birds Are Is Not Where You'd Think

Robert Krulwich/NPR

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 6:33 pm

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
Krulwich Wonders...
11:03 am
Wed July 23, 2014

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

Courtesy of I.M. Chait

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 6:48 pm

Editor's note: We've added an update at the bottom of this post with results of the auction. Read on!

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
Krulwich Wonders...
12:55 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

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

NASA/JPL-Caltech

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 1:54 pm

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
Krulwich Wonders...
10:51 am
Wed July 16, 2014

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

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Sun July 20, 2014 12:29 am

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
Krulwich Wonders...
4:30 am
Sun July 13, 2014

The Most Astonishing Wave-Tracking Experiment Ever

Sean Gallup Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 8:58 am

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
Krulwich Wonders...
6:03 am
Wed July 9, 2014

A Tough Little Droplet Fights To Stick Around

Zach Heller Flickr

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 2:58 pm

Read more
Krulwich Wonders...
6:03 am
Sun July 6, 2014

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

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Mon July 7, 2014 11:27 am

"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
Krulwich Wonders...
6:03 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Watch It Swallow An Entire Tree In Seconds

Krulwich Wonders...
4:18 am
Sun June 29, 2014

Her Baby Is At Risk: Lauren's Story

Courtesy of Lauren R. Weinstein/Nautilus

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 2:55 pm

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
Krulwich Wonders...
1:38 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

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

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 4:07 pm

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
Krulwich Wonders...
10:26 am
Wed June 25, 2014

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

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 3:19 pm

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
Krulwich Wonders...
3:56 am
Sun June 22, 2014

Man Floats Free In Hotel Corridor

Storyboard P dance down a hall in London.
BD YouTube

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 12:09 pm

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
Krulwich Wonders...
8:46 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Wrong! Deconstructing 5 Famous History Stories

CGP Grey YouTube

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 9:46 am

Read more

Pages