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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3:53pm

Tue February 24, 2015
Shots - Health News

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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2:52am

Tue February 24, 2015
Science

'Weird' Fern Shows The Power Of Interspecies Sex

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

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

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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6:06am

Sun February 15, 2015
Science

Navy Funds A Small Robot Army To Study The Arctic

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

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

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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5:25pm

Wed January 28, 2015
The Two-Way

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

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

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

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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2:38am

Thu January 22, 2015
The Two-Way

X-Rays Open Secrets Of Ancient Scrolls

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

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

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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