Geoff Brumfiel

Science correspondent Geoff Brumfiel's reports on physics, space, and all things nuclear can be heard across NPR News programs and on NPR.org.

Brumfiel has carried his microphone into ghost villages created by the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. He's tracked the journey of highly enriched uranium as it was shipped out of Poland. For a story on how animals drink, he crouched for over an hour and tried to convince his neighbor's cat to lap a bowl of milk. He became a full-time correspondent in March of 2013.

Prior to NPR, Geoff was based in London as a senior reporter for Nature Magazine from 2007-2013. There he covered energy, space, climate, and the physical sciences. In addition to reporting, he was a member of the award-winning Nature podcast team. From 2002 – 2007, Brumfiel was Nature Magazine's Washington Correspondent, reporting on Congress, the Bush administration, NASA, and the National Science Foundation, as well as the Departments of Energy and Defense.

He began his journalism career working on the American Physical Society's "Focus" website, which is now part of Physics.

Brumfiel is the 2013 winner of the Association of British Science Writers award for news reporting on the Fukushima nuclear accident.

He graduated from Grinnell College with a BA double degree in physics and English, and earned his Masters in science writing from Johns Hopkins University.

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Shots - Health News
3:59 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Gerbils Likely Pushed Plague To Europe in Middle Ages

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 8:43 am

Gerbils are a beloved classroom pet, but they might also be deadly killers. A study now claims that gerbils helped bring bubonic plague to Medieval Europe and contributed to the deaths of millions.

Plague is caused by bacteria (Yersinia pestis) found in rodents, and the fleas that live on rodents. The rodent that's usually Suspect Zero is the rat.

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Science
2:52 am
Tue February 24, 2015

'Weird' Fern Shows The Power Of Interspecies Sex

Botanists say this plant is the fern equivalent of a human-lemur love child.
Harry Roskam

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 8:48 am

The love between two ferns knows few bounds, it appears. A DNA analysis of a hybrid fern shows that its parents are two different species separated by nearly 60 million years of evolution.

"A 60 million year divergence is approximately equivalent to a human mating with a lemur," says Carl Rothfels, a fern researcher at the University of British Columbia, who headed the study. The hybrid is a record, he says.

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Science
6:27 am
Sun February 15, 2015

Navy Funds A Small Robot Army To Study The Arctic

To put their probes into the Arctic Ice, researchers hitched a ride on a South Korean icebreaker.
Courtesy of Craig M. Lee/University of Washington

Originally published on Sun February 15, 2015 11:49 am

Earlier this month the U.S. Navy's research office rented out a conference center in Washington, D.C., to show off some of its hottest new technology.

On display was an electromagnetic gun, and drones that could swarm around an enemy ship. But it wasn't all James Bond-style gadgets.

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The Two-Way
5:25 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Charles Townes, Laser Pioneer, Black Hole Discoverer, Dies At 99

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Charles Townes was single-minded about a lot of things, colleagues say. And also a very nice guy.
Julian Wasser The LIFE Images Collection/Getty

Originally published on Sat January 31, 2015 8:51 am

Charles Townes, a physicist who won the Nobel Prize for his part in the invention of the laser died Tuesday at 99.

Townes is best remembered for thinking up the basic principles of the laser while sitting on a park bench. Later in life he advised the U.S. government and helped uncover the secrets of our Milky Way galaxy.

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Asia
4:08 am
Tue January 27, 2015

Critics Worry Nuclear Reactor Deal With India Has A Dark Side

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 10:27 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Two-Way
2:38 am
Thu January 22, 2015

X-Rays Open Secrets Of Ancient Scrolls

The ancient scrolls look and feel more like blocks of charcoal. A new technique gives a peek inside.
Salvatore Laporta AP

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 6:41 pm

Researchers in Europe have managed to read from an ancient scroll buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. The feat is all the more remarkable because the scroll was never opened.

The Vesuvius eruption famously destroyed Pompeii. But it also devastated the nearby town of Herculaneum. A villa there contained a library stacked with papyrus scrolls, and the hot gas and ash preserved them.

Sort of.

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The Two-Way
3:28 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Scientists Say The NFL's 'Deflate-Gate' Isn't All Hot Air

A deflated football would have been easier for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) to grip in Sunday's rain.
Charles Krupa AP

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 1:21 pm

The New England Patriots are headed to the Super Bowl.

But there is a flat, squishy cloud over the Patriots' 45-7 victory against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday: The NFL is looking into allegations that the Patriots deflated the football to give themselves an advantage.

Two scientists say that "deflate-gate" isn't entirely hot air.

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NPR Ed
4:08 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Do Fictional Geniuses Hold Back Real Women?

Geniuses in movies aren't always played by Benedict Cumberbatch, but they are almost always men.
Weinstein Co./Studiocanal/Kobal Collection

Originally published on Fri January 16, 2015 7:39 am

The "Lone Genius" character is hot right now in television and movies. Sometimes the genius is real (think Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game), and sometimes he's fictional (think Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock). But one thing is almost always certain: He's a guy.

Now one researcher says that gender stereotype in art may have a real impact on women in academia.

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All Tech Considered
5:29 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Look Out, This Poker-Playing Computer Is Unbeatable

Dealer Omar Abu-Eid adjusts a stack of chips before the first day of the World Series of Poker's main event in Las Vegas last July. Humans still reign in most versions of poker. Whew.
John Locher AP

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 8:20 pm

Researchers have developed a computer program they say can beat any human on the planet at a particular variant of Texas Hold'em poker.

The scientists aren't planning to clean up with their powerful poker bot. Instead, they hope it can help computers become better decision-makers in the face of uncertainty. The work is published Thursday in the journal Science.

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The Two-Way
4:57 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

SpaceX Plans A Perfect Landing

The massive first stage of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket is designed to return to earth.
SpaceX

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 7:09 am

Update at 6:46 a.m. ET. Launch Scrubbed:

Early on Tuesday, SpaceX scrubbed a scheduled launch, citing technical problems. The next possible attempt is Friday at 5:09 ET, NASA said.

Our Original Post Continues:

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Science
3:49 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

A Vanished Jetliner Still Haunts Families Of The Missing

Sarah Bajc's partner, Philip Wood, disappeared along with Flight MH370. "The issuance of the death certificate is an emotional thing," she says, "because we're not convinced that they're dead."
Mohd Rasfan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 5:26 pm

In the first months after her partner disappeared, says Sarah Bajc, she still felt his presence.

"For a long time I felt him with me — I mean really physically felt him with me," she says.

"I feel that less frequently now."

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Shots - Health News
5:57 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Birds Of A Feather Aren't Necessarily Related

The updated avian tree shows how many different kinds of birds evolved quickly after a mass extinction 66 million years ago.
AAAS/Carla Schaffer

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 4:25 pm

What do a pigeon and a flamingo have in common? Quite a bit, according to a reordering of the evolutionary tree of birds.

One of a series of studies published Thursday in Science is the latest step toward understanding the origins of the roughly 10,000 bird species that populate our planet.

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The Two-Way
3:57 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Oh, Snap! NASA Promises Best Photo Yet Of Faraway Pluto

NASA/ESA/M. Buie (Southwest Research Institute)

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 9:22 am

Humanity has snapped detailed portraits of planets and moons throughout our solar system. But there's one missing from the album: Pluto.

Although Pluto was discovered in 1930, it has remained stubbornly hard to photograph. The Hubble Space Telescope has taken the best pictures, and frankly, they stink.

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Space
3:47 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Lots Of Work Remains After Successful Orion Launch

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 5:30 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Early this morning in Florida, NASA launched Orion, its latest spacecraft.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: And liftoff at dawn. The dawn of Orion and a new era of American Space exploration

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Space
3:42 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

NASA To Test Orion Spacecraft For Long Future Missions

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 9:34 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

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