Geoff Brumfiel

Science editor Geoff Brumfiel oversees coverage of everything from butterflies to black holes across NPR News programs and on NPR.org.

Prior to becoming the editor for fundamental research news in April of 2016, Brumfiel worked for three years as a reporter covering physics and space. 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.

Before NPR, Brumfiel 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.

The intercontinental ballistic missile that North Korea launched on Wednesday appears to be significantly larger and more powerful than previous versions, according to independent analysts.

North Korea says a new intercontinental ballistic missile tested on Wednesday proves it has a nuclear deterrent that can reach any target in the United States.

According to a statement from the Korean Central News Agency, the ICBM is capable of carrying a "super-large heavy warhead, which is capable of striking the whole mainland of the U.S."

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The tiny nation of Denmark has just three stations for monitoring atmospheric radiation. Each week, scientists change out air filters in the detectors and take the used ones to a technical university near Copenhagen.

There, Sven Poul Nielsen and other researchers analyze the filters. They often snag small amounts of naturally occurring radioactivity, radon for example.

European authorities are providing new details about a cloud of mysterious radioactive material that appeared over the continent last month.

Monitors in Italy were among first to detect the radioactive isotope ruthenium-106 on Oct. 3, according to a fresh report by France's Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety Institute, known as IRSN. In total, 28 European countries saw the radioactive cloud, the report says.

The speed and ferocity of the wildfires raging through Northern California's wine country have caught many residents off guard and left state officials scrambling to contain the flames.

But for fire researchers, these devastating blazes are part of a much larger pattern unfolding across the Western United States. So far this year, fires in the U.S. have consumed more than 8.5 million acres — an area bigger than the state of Maryland.

A final report on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 says the fate of the vanished aircraft may never be known, despite years of searching and more than $150 million in costs.

The report, which includes hundreds of pages of technical appendices, contains new details about the search. Perhaps most significantly, it provided more detail about a crew member's flight simulator that contained a route similar to the one investigators think the missing plane took.

Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET Friday

When North Korea conducted its latest nuclear test, the ground trembled more than 3,000 miles away in western Kazakhstan. Recording the shaking was AS059, an automated seismic station that's part of a global network designed to detect underground nuclear explosions.

The blast was picked up by seismic stations all over the world, and it was big.

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The rain just won't stop. More than two days after Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast, the downgraded storm continues to dump water across the region.

So much rain has fallen in the Houston area that the National Weather Service has had to revamp its charts.

Climate researchers agree that climate change can be partially to blame for the devastation. Here's how it has (and hasn't) shaped the course of the storm.

Eclipses are among the most predictable events on the planet. This one was known about for many decades before it crossed the U.S. earlier Monday.

Accordingly, people had been planning eclipse road trips for weeks in advance. They piled into planes and cars and made their way to the 70-mile-wide swath of land where the total eclipse would be visible. They checked online calculators, which told them the time of totality down to the second.

This week saw a dramatic escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula. As North Korea promised to engulf the U.S. territory of Guam in "enveloping fire", President Trump tweeted that the U.S. military is "locked and loaded" should North Korea "act unwisely".

The North's missile and nuclear programs have been shrouded in secrecy for years, but recent tests have shed more light on their capabilities. Here is what's currently known.

North Korean missiles can reach the continental United States.

Later this month, the moon's shadow will fall on Carhenge.

"Holy cow man, guess what? There's going to be an eclipse," says Kevin Howard, the head of the visitor's bureau for Alliance, Neb., which is home to the Stonehenge replica made of cars.

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North Korea's nuclear arsenal may be advancing faster than analysts had once thought.

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Editor's note, Aug. 10: An earlier version of this story said the draft climate report had been leaked by The New York Times, which has since updated its coverage to reflect that a version of the report was made available by the nonprofit Internet Archive in January.


A draft government report on climate says the U.S. is already experiencing the consequences of global warming. The findings sharply contrast with statements by President Trump and some members of his Cabinet, who have sought to downplay the changing climate.

A massive iceberg the size of Delaware has broken free from Antarctica and is floating in the sea.

Earlier Wednesday, scientists announced that the 6,000-square-kilometer (about 2,300 square miles) iceberg had come loose, after satellites detected it had calved off the Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula.

It was time for Emily Harrington to make a choice.

Harrington is a professional climber. In 2014, she was trying to reach the top of the tallest peak in Southeast Asia, a little-known mountain called Hkakabo Razi that had been successfully climbed only once before.

Howard Scott Warshaw has had many gigs over the years, but perhaps his most notable achievement was also a spectacular failure:

"I did the E.T. video game, the game that is widely held to be the worst video game of all time," he says.

The morning that the space shuttle Columbia was supposed to return home, Wayne Hale was at the landing site. At age 48, Hale was an up-and-coming manager with NASA. He'd just taken a job overseeing shuttle launches. But since this was a landing day, he didn't have much to do.

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And let's follow up on a warning about U.S. security. Former CIA Director Jim Woolsey laid it out yesterday on this program talking of one way that North Korea could use a nuclear device.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

In the 1994 film Timecop, Jean-Claude Van Damme plays a police officer who uses a time machine to catch criminals. Time-traveling law enforcement may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but if one researcher has her way, it will soon become science fact.

See what I did there? That paragraph encapsulates the most tired cliché of science writing: "It sounds like science fiction but it's true. "

Experts are increasingly confident that a powerful nerve agent was used to kill and injure victims in an attack on a rebel-held region of Syria on Tuesday.

More than 70 people were killed in a bombing in Idlib province, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The organization says that the death toll so far includes 20 children.

Elsewhere in the province, more than 30 people were reported killed in conventional attacks.

Updated 7:55 p.m. ET

The most expensive part of doing business in outer space is getting there. The private space flight company SpaceX thinks it can change all that, and Thursday's successful reuse of a rocket was a big test of its business model.

SpaceX launched a communications satellite from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida using a rocket stage that had already been to space and back. SpaceX is betting that this kind of recycling will lower its costs and revolutionize space flight.

President Trump's head of the Environmental Protection Agency says he does not believe that carbon dioxide is a major cause of global warming.

"I would not agree that [CO2] is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see," Scott Pruitt said Thursday in an interview with CNBC's Joe Kernen.

Here are the claims: Oranges taste better in the shower. Eating oranges in the shower will make you happy. The shower orange experience could turn your entire life around.

Thousands of Reddit users have been finding out for themselves. And they have chronicled their adventures on the subreddit /r/ShowerOrange/.

When the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un collapsed at a Malaysian airport last week, poisoning was instantly suspected. But on Friday, Malaysian authorities revealed that an autopsy had turned up not just any poison, but a rare nerve agent known as VX.

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