David Kestenbaum

David Kestenbaum is a correspondent for NPR, covering science, energy issues and, most recently, the global economy for NPR's multimedia project Planet Money. David has been a science correspondent for NPR since 1999. He came to journalism the usual way — by getting a Ph.D. in physics first.

In his years at NPR, David has covered science's discoveries and its darker side, including the Northeast blackout, the anthrax attacks and the collapse of the New Orleans levees. He has also reported on energy issues, particularly nuclear and climate change.

David has won awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

David worked briefly on the show This American Life, and set up a radio journalism program in Cambodia on a Fulbright fellowship. He also teaches a journalism class at Johns Hopkins University.

David holds a bachelor's of science degree in physics from Yale University and a doctorate in physics from Harvard University.

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Planet Money
5:54 am
Mon November 24, 2014

Experts Suggest OPEC's Power Over Oil Prices Is Waning

Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 12:02 pm

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Business
3:46 am
Thu October 30, 2014

The Independent Oil Producer You Usually Don't Hear From

Originally published on Thu October 30, 2014 1:25 pm

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Planet Money
2:58 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

How College Students Battled Textbook Publishers To A Draw, In 3 Graphs

Quoctrung Bui/NPR

Originally published on Tue October 14, 2014 12:18 pm

College textbooks are expensive. You probably already know this. A new biology or economics book can cost $300.

And prices have been soaring, doubling over the past decade, growing faster than the price of housing, cars, even health care.

But, surprisingly, the amount students actually spend on textbooks has not been rising. In fact, the best data we could find on this shows students have been spending a bit less over time.

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Planet Money
2:36 am
Thu August 21, 2014

Typewriters, Underwater Hotels And Picturephones: The Future, As Seen From 1964

General Motors

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 3:56 pm

The 1964 World's Fair showcased jet packs and new miracles of science. There was an entire house made of Formica. You could wipe it clean with a sponge!

The people who put the fair together tried to imagine how the future would look. Here are a few predictions, and how they actually turned out.

1. We had picture phones back then?

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Business
6:14 am
Fri August 1, 2014

Everyone Goes To The Store To Get Milk. So Why's It Way In The Back?

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Planet Money
4:55 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Evaluating The Benefits And Costs Of Patents

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 10:09 am

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The electric car company Tesla recently took the unusual step of effectively giving up all its patents. That means any competitor is now free to take the company's ideas and run with them. David Kestenbaum with our Planet Money team looked at why Tesla did it and what the world might be like if we got rid of patents altogether.

DAVID KESTENBAUM, BYLINE: Back in 2007, I road in an early Tesla prototype with the guy who is now the company's CEO, Elon Musk.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

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Planet Money
2:31 am
Fri July 11, 2014

When Ikea Raises Its Minimum Wage, Where Does The Money Come From?

Flickr user: dahlstroms

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 2:04 pm

Ikea, a company famous for keeping its costs down, recently announced that it would raise the average minimum wage for its retail workers to $10.76 an hour. Why would the company volunteer to pay its workers more?

"By taking better care of our coworkers," says Rob Olson, the acting president of Ikea U.S., "they will take better care of our customers, who will take better care of Ikea. We see it as a win-win-win opportunity."

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Planet Money
4:12 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Volatility Index Indicates Wall Street Is Bored

Originally published on Thu June 12, 2014 8:40 am

An economic indicator commonly called the VIX, volatility index, is also known as the fear index. Whatever you call it, the index is hitting lows not seen since before the financial crisis.

Planet Money
5:08 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Why A Pack Of Peanut Butter M&M's Weighs A Tiny Bit Less Than A Regular Pack

Peanut Butter M&M's are larger and more irregular than standard M&M's.
Quoctrung Bui/NPR

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 4:03 pm

The other day I went down to the little shop in the lobby of our building for a snack. I couldn't decide whether I wanted regular M&M's or Peanut Butter M&M's so I bought them both. On the way back upstairs to the office, I noticed something strange on the labels. Each had cost $1, but the pack of Peanut Butter M&M's was a very tiny bit lighter: 0.06 ounces lighter!

I wanted to know why, so I called a couple of experts and asked for their theories:

Theory No. 1: Peanut Butter M&M's are more expensive to make.

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Planet Money
4:05 am
Thu May 22, 2014

On The Internet, A Penny Is Nothing To Sneeze At

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 8:18 am

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Economy
3:44 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

The History Of Light, In 6 Minutes And 47 Seconds

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 10:57 am

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And now, 4,000 years of economic growth in seven minutes. This story comes, of course, from our Planet Money team. David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein bring us the history of light and how the world came what it is today.

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Planet Money
3:59 am
Fri April 4, 2014

New Web Addresses Provide Alternatives To Crowded Domains

Originally published on Fri April 4, 2014 7:22 am

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Planet Money
5:00 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Does Raising The Minimum Wage Kill Jobs?

Kenzo Tribouillard AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 6:50 pm

President Obama has called for increasing the minimum wage, saying it will help some of the poorest Americans. Opponents argue that a higher minimum wage will lead employers to cut jobs.

Figuring out the effect of raising the minimum wage is tough. Ideally you'd like to compare one universe where the minimum was raised against an alternate universe where it remained fixed.

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Planet Money
2:39 am
Fri January 17, 2014

The Birth Of The Minimum Wage In America

Franklin D. Roosevelt Libarary

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 3:46 pm

In 1895, legislators in New York state decided to improve working conditions in what at the time could be a deadly profession: baking bread.

"Bakeries are actually extremely dangerous places to work," says Eric Rauchway, a historian at the University of California, Davis. "Because flour is such a fine particulate, if it gets to hang in the air it can catch fire and the whole room can go up in a sheet of flame."

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Planet Money
4:22 am
Thu January 2, 2014

A Bet, Five Metals And The Future Of The Planet

James Cridland Flickr

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 10:24 am

This famous bet — between a biologist and an economist — was over population growth. It started three decades ago, but it helped set the tone for environmental debates that are still happening today.

The biologist at the heart of this bet was Paul Ehrlich at Stanford. He wrote a best-selling book in 1968 called The Population Bomb. It was so popular he appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

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