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.

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:55 am
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 12:54 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 ...

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Krulwich Wonders...
9:51 am
Wed July 16, 2014

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

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Sat July 19, 2014 11:29 pm

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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Krulwich Wonders...
3:30 am
Sun July 13, 2014

The Most Astonishing Wave-Tracking Experiment Ever

Sean Gallup Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 7:58 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?"

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Krulwich Wonders...
5:03 am
Wed July 9, 2014

A Tough Little Droplet Fights To Stick Around

Zach Heller Flickr

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 1:58 pm

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Krulwich Wonders...
5:03 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 10:27 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.

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Krulwich Wonders...
5:03 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Watch It Swallow An Entire Tree In Seconds

deniscimafinc YouTube

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 5:03 am

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Krulwich Wonders...
3:18 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 1:55 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.

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Krulwich Wonders...
12:38 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 3:07 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?

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Krulwich Wonders...
9:26 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 2:19 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 ...

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Krulwich Wonders...
2:56 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 11:09 am

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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Krulwich Wonders...
7:46 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Wrong! Deconstructing 5 Famous History Stories

CGP Grey YouTube

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 8:46 am

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Krulwich Wonders...
5:24 am
Mon June 16, 2014

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

A dandypunk Vimeo

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 10:25 am

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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Krulwich Wonders...
3:48 am
Sat June 14, 2014

Unstealing Treasures: A Reverse Burglary

MinutePhysics and RadioLab

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 12:58 pm

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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Krulwich Wonders...
4:03 am
Wed June 11, 2014

How We Learned That Frogs Fly

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Wed June 11, 2014 8:51 am

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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Krulwich Wonders...
3:20 am
Sun June 8, 2014

Big Moments Get Less Weighty: Whatever Happened To Stiff Paper?

Robert Krulwich NPR

It's no big deal. It shouldn't matter. I just realized that something that's been around forever, that I grew up with, took for granted and used all the time, is slowly vanishing. Now that it's going, I suddenly care and want it back again, back in my hands so I can feel its touch.

I'm talking about, of all things, "card stock," a phrase I didn't know until today. It's a kind of paper that used to be everywhere ...

It was my bus ticket, somewhat rigid, that the bus driver would punch and then hand back, so I could use it again for the return trip.

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Krulwich Wonders...
5:03 am
Wed June 4, 2014

How Chocolate Might Save The Planet

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 10:11 am

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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Krulwich Wonders...
10:29 am
Wed May 28, 2014

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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Krulwich Wonders...
5:03 am
Sun May 25, 2014

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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Krulwich Wonders...
12:26 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Jupiter's Dot And Mine. Why Life Is Unfair

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 9:58 am

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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Krulwich Wonders...
5:03 am
Wed May 21, 2014

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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Krulwich Wonders...
3:27 am
Sun May 18, 2014

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

Courtesy of Terrace Lodge

Originally published on Mon May 19, 2014 8:09 am

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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Krulwich Wonders...
10:25 am
Fri May 16, 2014

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

Roger Viollet Collection Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 2:43 pm

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Krulwich Wonders...
4:49 am
Thu May 15, 2014

How To Marry The Right Girl: A Mathematical Solution

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 12:34 pm

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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Krulwich Wonders...
3:33 am
Sun May 11, 2014

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

Numberphile YouTube

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 6:18 am

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Krulwich Wonders...
5:03 am
Wed May 7, 2014

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

Robert Krulwich NPR

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

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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Krulwich Wonders...
3:05 am
Sun May 4, 2014

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

John Pitcher iStockphoto

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:37 am
Fri May 2, 2014

'Wassup, Sheep?' He Asked

YouTube

Originally published on Fri May 2, 2014 12:39 pm

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Krulwich Wonders...
12:33 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Plants Talk. Plants Listen. Here's How

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 8:06 am

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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Krulwich Wonders...
6:03 am
Sat April 26, 2014

Come Dance With Me

Urban Dance Camp YouTube

Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 10:34 am

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Krulwich Wonders...
10:32 am
Fri April 25, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 4:55 pm

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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