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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4:08am

Sun September 23, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

Gherkin, Diphthong, Hornswoggle And Kerfuffle: Best Words Ever?

Ted McCagg Questionable Skills

"Gherkin" — I like saying it. It's vaguely Indian sounding. "Kerfuffle." That's just fun, with so many F's packed into three syllables. "Diphthong" is sly because it's hiding a silent H, the H right after the P; it's there, but you wouldn't know it. And "hornswoggle?" Just hearing it, I'm on the deck of a frigate, there are seagulls soaring above, and someone is playing a jig.

One of these four words, the "Final Four" in Ted McCagg's "Best Word Ever" contest, became a champion this week.

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8:49am

Fri September 21, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

Getting Slower And Slower: How Slow Can You Go?

Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 9:36 am

Vincent Liota

Before we go slow, let's go fast, so fast you can't go any faster. That would be light in a vacuum, traveling at 670 million miles per hour ...

Light, of course, can slow down. When light passes through water, it loses speed. A diamond is an even better speed bump. It can slow a beam of light by 40 percent.

But moving on, you and I are going pretty fast right now, though we don't notice. The planet we're on is zipping around the sun at 66,000-plus miles per hour ...

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7:44am

Wed September 19, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

U.S. Explodes Atomic Bombs Near Beers To See If They Are Safe To Drink

Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 2:34 pm

National Technical Information Service via Alex Wellerstein

So you're minding your own business when all of a sudden, a nuclear bomb goes off, there's a shock wave, fires all around, general destruction and you, having somehow survived, need a drink. What can you do? There is no running water, not where you are. But there is a convenience store. It's been crushed by the shock wave, but there are still bottles of beer, Coke and diet soda intact on the floor.

So you wonder: Can I grab one of those beers and gulp it down? Or is it too radioactive? And what about taste? If I drink it, will it taste OK?

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8:19am

Mon September 17, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

Which Is Greater, The Number Of Sand Grains On Earth Or Stars In The Sky?

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 7:53 am

Gilles Chapdelaine NASA & ESA

Here's an old, old, question, but this time with a surprise twist. The question is — and I bet you asked it when you were 8 years old and sitting on a beach: Which are there more of — grains of sand on the Earth or stars in the sky?

Obviously, grains and stars can't be counted, not literally. But you can guestimate.

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6:03am

Sat September 15, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

That Old Rice-Grains-On-The-Chessboard Con, With a New Twist

Robert Krulwich/NPR

Once upon a time, says the science writer David Blatner, there was this con man who made chessboards for high-end clients — in this case, a king.

The craftsman was good; his chessboards were better than beautiful. The king, he knew, loved chess. So he hatched a plan to trick the king into handing over an enormous fortune. His plan? He figured, "This king is not too good at math."

So when the craftsman presented his chessboard at court, he told the king,

"Your Highness, I don't want money for this. Or jewels. All I want is a little rice."

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