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.

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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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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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Nuclear power plants are typically hulking structures made using billions of dollars of concrete and steel. But one company thinks that by going smaller, they could actually make nuclear power more affordable.

North Korea got 2017 off to a menacing start. In his New Year's address, supreme leader Kim Jong Un warned that the nation was in the "final stage" of preparations to test an intercontinental ballistic missile.

A day later, President-elect Donald Trump said the North would never develop a nuclear weapon capable of striking the U.S. "It won't happen!" Trump tweeted.

The wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is probably outside the stretch of ocean that international search ships have scoured for the past two years, a "first principles review" has concluded.

The findings, based on a fresh analysis of satellite data, recovered debris and other information, suggest that the plane may in fact lie within a roughly 10,000-square-mile (25,000-square-km) patch to the north of the existing search area.

In what could mark an escalation of tensions with the West, commercial satellite images suggest that Russia is moving a new generation of nuclear-capable missiles into Eastern Europe.

Scientists have pinpointed the ticklish bit of a rat's brain.

The results, published in the journal Science, are another step toward understanding the origins of ticklishness, and its purpose in social animals.

A report out this morning from Australian investigators offers a handful of new clues about the greatest aviation mystery of the 21st century: the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

The remains of two gigantic dinosaurs discovered in Australia may shed light on how dinosaurs spread across the globe.

The news this week.

For that reason, we're bringing you this photo of a baby elephant named Jotto cuddled up to an ostrich named Pea.

Conservationists with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya came across Pea two years ago today, while they were rescuing a different infant elephant. The trust is well-known for its rescue and rehabilitation program for orphaned elephants.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The Nobel Prize in physics this morning has been awarded to three scientists. They won for their work exploring new phases of matter. Joining us to talk about the winners is NPR's science editor, Geoff Brumfiel. Good morning.

When it comes to waves, it doesn't get much bigger than the gravitational variety. Einstein predicted that huge events — like black holes merging — create gravitational waves. Unlike most waves we experience, these are distortions in space and time. They roll across the entire universe virtually unimpeded.

Einstein first predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916, but none were spotted until recently. Given their incredible power, why did it take a century to locate them?

The U.K.'s fraught decision to exit the European Union was motivated by everyday issues such as trade and immigration. But its impact could soon be felt in some of Europe's most esoteric locales — like particle accelerators.

Updated at 6:30 a.m. ET

A small plane on a daring winter evacuation mission from the South Pole landed safely Wednesday night at Punta Arenas, Chile.

Updated 5:45 p.m. ET: Plane lands at the pole

The U.S. government has launched a rescue mission to the South Pole after a worker at its Amundsen-Scott research station fell ill. The evacuation comes at the height of winter on the Antarctic continent — a time when there are usually no flights in or out of the pole.

Scientists announced Wednesday that they have once again detected ripples in space and time from two black holes colliding far away in the universe.

The discovery comes just months after the first-ever detection of such "gravitational waves," and it suggests that smaller-sized black holes might be more numerous than many had thought.

House and Senate negotiators have agreed on a plan to update a 40-year-old law regulating the safety of chemicals.

A team of scientists has developed "robot flies" about the size of a quarter that can perch on almost any surface.

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The National Institutes of Health is overhauling the leadership of its world-renowned Clinical Center, after an independent task force found the center was putting research ahead of patient safety.

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