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...
9:43 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Putting On Einstein's Glasses

Vimeo

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 7:29 am

Whenever you look at the teeming, rich and oh-so-various world, if you've got the right eyes, if you've got the eyes of a mathematician, you will find patterns — simple, elegant forms hiding in everything you see. Those patterns explain why sugar dissolves in a cup of coffee, why clouds release rain, why a heavy plane can climb into the sky.

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Krulwich Wonders...
10:26 am
Fri October 4, 2013

Comparing Sperm Whales To Sperm: A Swimming Contest

Brad Purnell YouTube

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 12:40 pm

If you're a big, big whale with a gigantic tail swimming through water, nothing gets in your way, not the water, not the other fish, not nothin'. You are so much bigger than the water molecules around you, you move through the sea the way humans move through the air on a calm day — you just go. Whales, I imagine, don't think much about water.

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Krulwich Wonders...
1:21 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Doing A Da Vinci — If Only Leonardo Could See This

Leonardo da Vinci wikipaintings.org

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 8:41 am

More than 500 years ago, Leonardo da Vinci tried to imagine what it would be like to soar over mountains, to dip, to glide like a bird. He'd sit on Italian hillsides, sketching, imagining, dreaming. In 1502, he drew one of the first ever, looking-down-from-the-sky panoramas of the Earth — in this case a bit of Tuscany, as if seen by a high flying eagle.

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Krulwich Wonders...
10:05 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Always, Always There

An Iraqi civilian walks through the vault of the National Museum in Baghdad, Iraq, on April 12, 2003. Looters opened the museum vault, went on a rampage breaking ancient artifacts stored there by museum authorities before the war started.
Jerome Delay AP

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 11:26 am

I'm going to tell two stories here, two very different stories. One's about bad guys hurting good guys that made me think the world is going to hell; the other is about good guys outfoxing bad guys and made me smile — made me think there's hope, always hope. I found them in different books.

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:34 am
Fri September 13, 2013

A Most Delightful Map

Courtesy of Massimo Pietrobon

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 11:07 am

Think about this: You wake up in New York City, decide to go for a stroll, head east after breakfast, and a short time later, still on foot, you find yourself in Morocco. Three hundred million years ago, you could have done that! There was no civilization back then, no cities, no countries, no people, but the land was there, so take a look at this map.

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Krulwich Wonders...
2:49 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

When The Dutch Keep Secrets, Everybody Notices. A Google Puzzle

Mishka Henner

Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 10:48 am

What is this?

When I saw it for the first time, here's what I knew: It's a Google image found on Google Maps, taken by a satellite, plucked and blogged by photographer/sleuth, Mishka Henner. It's a patch of land near a town called Coevorden, in The Netherlands. There's a road on one side, plowed farmland all about, some trees on the lower left and then, weirdly, grey, black, white, golden, green and brown patches crunched together in an almost-rectangle. Those couldn't be natural, I thought.

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Krulwich Wonders...
10:26 am
Tue September 10, 2013

A New Kind Of 'More'

The Glue Society

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 2:11 pm

You've heard, maybe, about "Simple Living"? It's what some people do, Gandhi-style, to simplify their lives. They shed possessions. They watch their carbon footprint. They choose to live with less. They have what they need, and that's enough.

What's the opposite of Simple Living? (Everything needs an opposite, right? Read Hegel.) Well, if you want to conjure Simple Living in reverse, it's not gluttony. Anybody can buy too many shoes. No, the opposite of Simple Living should also be a movement with a name, a style — and lots of fans.

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Krulwich Wonders...
10:00 am
Fri September 6, 2013

What We Can Never, Ever Know: Does Science Have Limits?

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri September 6, 2013 10:10 am

I got two books in the mail that, if they could have, would've poked, scratched and ripped each others' pages out. I don't know if Martin Gardner and Patricia Churchland ever met, but their books show that there are radically, even ferociously, different ways to think about science. Gardner died last year. He was a science writer whose monthly "Mathematical Games" column in Scientific American was wildly popular. Patricia Churchland is a philosopher who teaches at U.C. San Diego.

The issue between them is: How much can we know about the universe?

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Krulwich Wonders...
1:46 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

How To Build Little Doors Inside Your Shell: The Secrets of Snail Carpentry

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 12:03 pm

"I am going to withdraw from the world," says a snail in Hans Christian Andersen's tale The Snail and the Rosebush. "Nothing that happens there is any concern of mine."

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Krulwich Wonders...
9:34 am
Wed August 28, 2013

How To Disappear When Someone's Spying On You

Courtesy of Adam Harvey

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 3:32 pm

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Krulwich Wonders...
10:38 am
Fri August 23, 2013

Can Worms Create Their Own Imaginary Oceans? Can Oysters?

D.P. Wilson/FLPA Science Source

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 12:35 pm

When you see them on the beach, spinach-like plops of green sprawled on the sand, you'd never guess their teeny nervous systems are imprinted with beach-ness. They are the ultimate Beach Boys. For them it's always summer.

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:05 am
Wed August 21, 2013

'Why This Compulsion To Run Long Distances?' A Runner's Beautiful Confession

From Racing the Antelope

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 10:50 am

Biologist Bernd Heinrich was in Zimbabwe, in the field, eyes down, looking for beetles, when for no particular reason he looked up and saw ... well, at first he wasn't sure what it was, so he stepped closer, leaned in, and there, painted on the underside of large protruding rock, were five human figures "running in one direction, from left to right across the rock face." They weren't very detailed, just "small, sticklike human figures in clear running stride" painted by a Bushman, two, maybe three thousand years ago.

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:24 am
Mon August 19, 2013

How One Plus One Became Everything: A Puzzle of Life

Courtesy of Paolo Ceric

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 7:00 am

It's one of life's great mysteries ...

Four billion years ago, or thereabouts, organic chemicals in the sea somehow spun themselves into little homes, with insides and outsides. We call them cells.

They did this in different ways, but always keeping their insides in, protected from the outside world ...

... surrounded by walls or skins of different types ...

... but letting in essentials, nutrients. Some even learned to eat sunshine, capturing energy ...

... which gave them a pulse of their own ...

... so they could move ...

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Krulwich Wonders...
9:33 am
Wed August 14, 2013

Is There A Giant Life Form Lurking In Our Solar System? Possibly, Say Scientists

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 8:29 am

What if — just maybe — we find extra-terrestrial life in the oceans of Europa, a little moon circling Jupiter? If we do, says writer Caspar Henderson, don't expect that oceanic alien to be very big. Or very scary. Or even very visible. Nothing like this ...

The "top predator" on Europa, Henderson reports, is likely to be "a fearsome creature with the mass of one gram." That's three one-hundredths of an ounce.

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Krulwich Wonders...
1:30 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

This Pulsing Earth

John Nelson IDV Solutions

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 9:00 am

It's breathing, he thought. "All of a sudden I see a thing with a heartbeat."

John Nelson is a designer, well known for tracing complex weather patterns or cultural information on maps, so considering what he usually does, this was easy. NASA's Visible Earth team publishes pictures of our planet every month of the year, so John thought, why not stitch them together, and see what the seasons look like from outer space?

So he stitched, and then looked.

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