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.

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. We all know this. But now, I want to tell you something you may not know. It turns out bats (some bats anyway) sing — sing uncannily, spookily, like...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpCWh3IFtDQ 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. The first is a small patch of space, way, way out in the universe, remote from everything, with nothing in it, no stars, no planets, no bits of dust, no debris, no atoms, not even one. It's as empty as empty can be. And next, I'm going to show you a painting. Except it isn't a...

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 Japanese giant hornets have large yellow heads, enormous eyes, and they eat bees. "Eat" is too polite....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zm-sQnazFAQ 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. Speaking at the first BAHFest in 2013, MIT grad student Tomer Ullman proposes that in ancient times, screaming babies were used to motivate armies to fight. Howling infants, he suggests, were probably attached in baby carriers to the...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVAKFJ8VVp4 Notice what Tyler Nordgren does in these posters. He's an artist, an astronomer (from Cornell, Carl Sagan's department); he's worked for NASA. He's an expert in dark matter, and a full professor at the University of Redlands. He knows much, much more than I do about astrophysics and stars, and yet, look at these night skies — a series he created to promote America's national parks at night ... The stars aren't right. They're supposed to be pointy,...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGQ2msn0OR0 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. They are beautiful, these beams. Fragile. Elegant. Heaven-bound, but they have an unfortunate side effect. They attract migrating birds....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rENyyRwxpHo 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. In 1961 (I was 13), cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin left the planet and got high enough to look down on the real Earth spinning beneath him. He was the first (followed by Alan Shepard and later John Glenn ) to gaze with his own eyes on what we had over the centuries so carefully mapped, drawn and...

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. "Let me explain. A highly unpleasant idea, but one that has been accepted by scientists over the last couple of centuries, is that we human beings, and all living beings, are completely material. That is, we are made of material atoms, and only material atoms. To be precise, the average human being consists of about 7 x 10 27 atoms (7,000...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qB76jxBq_gQ 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. Through the window, you catch snatches of his back yard. It's a windy day and he's got a coffee cup sitting on the piano top. He's working on a Bach partita,...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiCLMePjK-Y Magic carpets you know about. Aladdin had one. But how about this? A country road carpet? Walk into a meadow, drag it behind you, and wherever you go, the road settles perfectly into place. That's Erik Johansson doing the dragging, and, I don't know, he doesn't seem to be straining very hard. The carpet looks like it should weigh a few tons but, judging from his easy stride, it appears to be feather-light (not to mention wrinkle-free). Building roads...

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. There are, he...

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....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkSN-kqAmxw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BW-tzEKwD7g Every so often, and I wish it were more often, Vi Hart becomes a snail. Vi is one of the Web's finest math geeks . Her site is where millions (and I mean that literally) of us go to learn about topology, hexaflexagons , infinity, mobius strips, Fibonacci numbers. She narrates. She draws, but there are moments — ecstatic moments — when she chucks the math and goes totally "snail." Her snails, by the way,...

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...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8mzDvpKzfY Great teaching — just plain old knock 'em dead, get it right, make 'em laugh, make 'em wonder instruction — is always going to be rare. Good teachers abound. Great ones are special. And " Destin ," who goes by one name and has his own little physics channel on YouTube called Smarter Every Day , is, for my taste, among the very best. He's a rocket scientist in Alabama, who knows ballistics, ordnance, guns. But he also knows all kinds of secrets hiding...

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...

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...

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? "Everything I have learned as a conservation biologist tells me cities are bad for biodiversity," writes John Marzluff, of the University of Washington. We all know this. Anyone who goes to downtown Chicago...

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." Coprolite is fossilized fecal matter. This specimen is roughly 20 million years old. For the guy who has everything ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyZoD7BRTtg 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 ... Yes, it looks like a cross-eyed space alien staring out of the darkness, so to make things clearer, let me add one...

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