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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3:26am

Fri October 18, 2013
Planet Money

I Lent $999.78 To The Federal Government*

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 1:29 pm

NPR

Earlier this week, I bought a Treasury bill.

Everybody calls Treasury bills T-bills, and they work like this: The government promises to pay holders of T-bills a specific amount on a specific day in the near future. For the T-bill I bought, the government promised to pay $1,000 on Oct. 31.

I bought the T-bill on Tuesday, before Congress had made the debt-ceiling deal, so it was unclear whether I would get paid back on time.

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3:00am

Thu October 10, 2013
Planet Money

What A U.S. Default Would Mean For Pensions, China And Social Security

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 12:38 pm

iStockphoto.com

What would happen if Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling and the U.S. defaults on its debt later this month? The broad economic implications are unpredictable, but a default could cause huge trouble for the global economy.

But whatever happens to the global economy, one thing is clear: People all over the world who have loaned the U.S. government money won't get paid on time.

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2:42pm

Tue October 8, 2013
The Two-Way

An Aerogramme From Professor Higgs, Nobel Winner

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 6:02 pm

Letter from Peter Higgs
David Kestenbaum NPR

Well, it's happened. British scientist Peter Higgs has won a Nobel Prize for proposing the Higgs boson particle as part of a mechanism that explains how things in the universe came to have mass.

Higgs seems to be lying low today so far — a colleague told The New York Times that Higgs had "gone off by himself for a few days without saying where" and that a reporter seeking an interview recently had been "sent away with a flea in his ear."

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3:36am

Mon September 30, 2013
Planet Money

One Key Thing No One Knows About Obamacare

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 7:44 am

Getty Images

Tuesday is a big day for Obamacare. The online marketplaces where people can shop for health insurance are supposed to open for business.

No one really knows who is going to sign up — not the Obama administration, not the insurance industry, not the president's critics. Yet the success of the law hangs on this question: Will the right mix of people sign up? In particular, will healthy people buy health insurance?

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3:21am

Mon September 2, 2013
Planet Money

Ecuador To World: Pay Up To Save The Rainforest. World To Ecuador: Meh.

Originally published on Mon September 2, 2013 7:04 pm

An aerial view of the Yasuni National Park, in Ecuador's northeastern jungle.
Dolores Ochoa AP

The government of Ecuador has abandoned a plan that would have kept part of the Amazonian rainforest off limits to oil drilling. The initiative was an unusual one: Ecuador was promising to keep the oil in the ground, but it wanted to be paid for doing so.

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5:01pm

Fri August 23, 2013
Planet Money

Cash, Cows And The Rise Of Nerd Philanthropy

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 9:12 pm

A family in western Kenya received this cow as part of a Heifer International program.
NPR

For more of our reporting on this story, please see our recent column in the New York Times Magazine, and the latest episode of This American Life.

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3:24am

Fri August 23, 2013
Planet Money

The Charity That Just Gives Money To Poor People

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 1:41 pm

Bernard Omondi got $1,000 from GiveDirectly.
Jacob Goldstein NPR

For more of our reporting on this story, please see our recent column in the New York Times Magazine, and the latest episode of This American Life.

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10:03pm

Thu July 4, 2013
Planet Money

Why Doesn't Everybody Buy Cheap, Generic Headache Medicine?

Originally published on Fri July 5, 2013 9:03 pm

Same pills. Lower price.
Paul Sancya AP

Why does anyone buy Bayer aspirin — or Tylenol, or Advil — when, almost always, there's a bottle of cheaper generic pills, with the same active ingredient, sitting right next to the brand-name pills?

Matthew Gentzkow, an economist at the University of Chicago's Booth school, recently tried to answer this question. Along with a few colleagues, Gentzkow set out to test a hypothesis: Maybe people buy the brand-name pills because they just don't know that the generic version is basically the same thing.

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4:33am

Fri June 28, 2013
Planet Money

Economists Have A One-Page Solution To Climate Change

Originally published on Fri June 28, 2013 10:45 am

CX Matiash AP

Climate change seems like this complicated problem with a million pieces. But Henry Jacoby, an economist at MIT's business school, says there's really just one thing you need to do to solve the problem: Tax carbon emissions.

"If you let the economists write the legislation," Jacoby says, "it could be quite simple." He says he could fit the whole bill on one page.

Basically, Jacoby would tax fossil fuels in proportion to the amount of carbon they release. That would make coal, oil and natural gas more expensive. That's it; that's the whole plan.

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3:03am

Thu June 20, 2013
Planet Money

A Surprising Barrier To Clean Water: Human Nature

Originally published on Mon June 24, 2013 10:38 am

Rodan Gatia gets water from a spring. A chlorine dispenser is behind her.
Jacob Goldstein NPR

In many parts of the developing world, drinking a glass of water can be deadly — especially for young children, who can die of diarrheal diseases contracted from dirty water.

So getting clean water to people in the developing world has been a top priority for aid groups for a long time. But it's been a surprisingly hard problem to solve.

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