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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4:00pm

Tue June 10, 2014
Science

Bye-Bye To The Home Of A Favorite Internet Conspiracy Theory

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 9:05 pm

The remote HAARP facility in Alaska has 180 antennas that are used to study the ionosphere.
Courtesy of Christopher Fallen

It sure looks suspicious: a remote military compound in the south-central Alaskan wilderness filled with 180 weird-looking antennas.

It's the home of the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP). Conspiracy theorists have accused the program of doing everything from mind control to global communications jamming.

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5:16am

Thu June 5, 2014
Asia

Ice Wall May Stop Radioactive Leak At Japanese Nuclear Plant

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 4:02 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Earlier this week, workers in Japan began construction of an underground ice wall around the melted-down nuclear reactors at Fukushima. It is hard to even say that sentence without feeling like you're relating some science fiction tale. But it's true. The ice wall is designed to stop hundreds of tons of radioactive groundwater from leaking into the nearby Pacific Ocean. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel has been covering this story for a long time. Welcome back to the program.

GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: Thank you, nice to be here.

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4:38pm

Fri May 30, 2014
The Two-Way

SpaceX Unveils A Sleek New Ride To Orbit

SpaceX's new crew capsule was unveiled yesterday.
SpaceX

Yesterday, entrepreneur Elon Musk sauntered on to stage and unveiled his latest product: not a smart phone, but a spaceship.

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5:24am

Fri May 30, 2014
Business

SpaceX Founder Elon Musk Reveals New Spacecraft

Originally published on Fri May 30, 2014 12:36 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

NPR's Business News begins with - not kidding - riding a dragon. Last night, the private spaceflight company, SpaceX, unveiled a new capsule called Dragon to take astronauts into orbit. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reports that this is part of the company's promise to make spaceflight cheap.

GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: When Internet entrepreneur, Elon Musk, announced he was starting a space launch company, there were doubters.

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1:18pm

Wed May 28, 2014
The Two-Way

Rumors Of An Intergalactic Explosion Are Greatly Exaggerated

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 6:17 pm

Astronomers thought they saw a big explosion in the nearby Andromeda galaxy.
GALEX, JPL-Caltech/ NASA

Tuesday afternoon, astronomers thought they saw a powerful explosion in the nearby Andromeda galaxy.

The Internet went wild with speculation about what it could be: Had two superdense neutron stars collided? Did a supermassive star explode?

"When I got up this morning and turned on my phone, I had a lot of emails and my Twitter feed was burning," says Phil Evans, an astronomer at the University of Leicester in Britain.

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6:35am

Wed May 28, 2014
Asia

Malaysia Makes Public Satellite Data From Missing Jetliner

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 12:57 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm David Greene. It has been almost three months now since a Malaysian Airlines jet disappeared with 239 people on board. Satellite data led authorities to conclude the plane flew for hours and then went down somewhere off the coast of Australia. Yesterday, investigators made that data public for the first time. And joining us in our studio to discuss this is NPR science correspondent Geoff Brumfiel. Geoff, welcome.

GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: Hi.

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4:43pm

Fri May 23, 2014
The Two-Way

Organic Cat Litter Chief Suspect In Nuclear Waste Accident

Originally published on Sat May 24, 2014 3:12 am

Workers at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant are still investigating what caused a radioactive release at the site, but organic cat litter may be the culprit.
DOE/WIPP

In February, a 55-gallon drum of radioactive waste burst open inside America's only nuclear dump, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.

Now investigators believe the cause may have been a pet store purchase gone bad.

"It was the wrong kitty litter," says James Conca, a geochemist in Richland, Wash., who has spent decades in the nuclear waste business.

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5:09pm

Tue May 20, 2014
Science

Big Bang's Ripples: Two Scientists Recall Their Big Discovery

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 8:27 pm

The Holmdel Horn Antenna at Bell Telephone Laboratories in New Jersey was built in 1959 to make the first phone call via satellite.
NASA

On May 20, 1964, two astronomers working at a New Jersey laboratory turned a giant microwave antenna toward what they thought would be a quiet part of the Milky Way. They weren't searching for anything; they were trying to make adjustments to their instrument before looking at more interesting things in the sky.

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5:03am

Mon May 12, 2014
The Two-Way

Rocket Wars: Will A Suit By SpaceX Get Off The Ground?

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 10:01 am

Atlas V (left); Falcon 9 (right)
ULA; SpaceX

The two rockets pictured above may look the same, and in many ways they are: Both are launched pointy-end up, and both can carry a satellite into orbit.

But the rocket on the left, known as an Atlas V, costs between $100 million and $300 million more to launch (depending on whom you ask) than the one on the right, the Falcon 9.

So why has the U.S. Air Force just signed a contract to buy dozens of rockets like the Atlas V from a single supplier?

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5:24pm

Wed April 23, 2014
The Two-Way

Scientists Pinpoint Source Of Antarctic 'Quack'

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 2:51 pm

A minke whale photographed in Antarctica last year. The minke, smallest of the baleen whales, turned out to be the mysterious "bio-duck."
Tony Beck/Barcroft Media Barcroft Media/Landov

For decades, researchers and submarine crews in icy waters off the coast of Antarctica have been picking up a mysterious quacking sound.

The "bio-duck," as its called, has been heard on and off since Cold War patrols picked it up on sonar during the 1960s.

"It goes 'quack, quack, quack, quack,' " says Denise Risch, a marine biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "It has this almost mechanical feel to it."

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