Nell Greenfieldboyce

Nell Greenfieldboyce is a NPR science correspondent.

With reporting focused on general science, NASA, and the intersection between technology and society, Greenfieldboyce has been on the science desk's technology beat since she joined NPR in 2005.

In that time Greenfieldboyce has reported on topics including the narwhals in Greenland, the ending of the space shuttle program, and the reasons why independent truckers don't want electronic tracking in their cabs.

Much of Greenfieldboyce's reporting reflects an interest in discovering how applied science and technology connects with people and culture. She has worked on stories spanning issues such as pet cloning, gene therapy, ballistics, and federal regulation of new technology.

Prior to NPR, Greenfieldboyce spent a decade working in print, mostly magazines including U.S. News & World Report and New Scientist.

A graduate of Johns Hopkins, earning her Bachelor's of Arts degree in social sciences and a Master's of Arts degree in science writing, Greenfieldboyce taught science writing for four years at the university. She was honored for her talents with the Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award for Young Science Journalists.

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1:03pm

Wed December 3, 2014
Science

Earliest Human Engraving Or Trash From An Ancient Lunch?

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:52 pm

An inside view of this fossil Pseudodon shell shows that the hole made by Homo erectus is exactly at the spot where the muscle attached to the shell. Poking at that spot would force the shell open.
Henk Caspers Naturalis Leiden/The Netherlands

Scientists have discovered enigmatic markings on an ancient shell that's been sitting in a museum for more than a century — and they believe this may be the oldest known example of a deliberate geometric engraving made by a human hand.

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5:05am

Thu November 27, 2014
Science

Scientists Analyze Skeletal Remains From Vampire Graveyard

Originally published on Thu November 27, 2014 12:12 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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4:53pm

Wed November 26, 2014
Environment

Shrinking Sea Ice Could Put Polar Bears In Grave Peril By 2100

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 6:39 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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4:28pm

Fri November 14, 2014
Science

Controversy Over Scientist's Shirt Mars Celebration Of Comet Landing

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 6:34 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

5:09pm

Mon November 10, 2014
Shots - Health News

These X's Are The Same Shade, So What Does That Say About Color?

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 5:33 pm

This is a re-creation of a color plate from Interaction of Color, by Josef Albers. The two X's are are exactly the same — it's the different backgrounds that make them look like very different colors.
Source: Josef Albers Interaction of Color

Learning to name the colors is a ritual of childhood. At first kids have no clue; often they'll just say everything is "boo." Pretty soon, though, they can rattle off Roy G. Biv with aplomb. Still, that doesn't mean they understand what color actually is.

Mark Fairchild, who studies color and vision science at the Rochester Institute of Technology, says that even physicists get it wrong when they confidently assert that color is just a wavelength of light.

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3:27am

Fri November 7, 2014
Shots - Health News

How A Tilt Toward Safety Stopped A Scientist's Virus Research

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 4:27 pm

Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome virus particles cling to the surface of an infected cell.
NIAID/Flickr

As cases of a worrisome respiratory virus continue to pop up in the Middle East, scientists who study it in the U.S. are struggling to understand how they'll be affected by a government moratorium on certain kinds of experiments.

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4:57am

Fri October 31, 2014
Shots - Health News

Virus Sleuths Chip Away At Ebola Mysteries

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 2:40 pm

Stringy particles of Ebola virus (blue) bud from a chronically infected cell (yellow-green) in this colorized, scanning electron micrograph.
NIAID Science Source

Vincent Racaniello, who studies viruses at Columbia University, says Ebola has recently become his obsession.

"I find myself reading incessantly about Ebola when I should be doing other things," says Racaniello, host of the online show This Week in Virology, which has devoted several recent programs to Ebola.

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8:58am

Thu October 23, 2014
Shots - Health News

Scientists Fight For Superbug Research As U.S. Pauses Funding

Originally published on Fri October 24, 2014 12:33 pm

A rogues gallery of the viruses (left to right) that cause MERS, SARS, and influenza.
Niaid; 3D4Medical; Niaid/Science Source

An unusual government moratorium aimed at controversial research with high-risk viruses has halted important public health research, scientists told an advisory committee to the federal government on Wednesday.

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5:48pm

Mon October 20, 2014
Shots - Health News

When Reassuring Isn't: The Rush To Test Cruise Passenger For Ebola

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 10:41 am

The cruise ship Carnival Magic floats behind a catamaran off Cozumel, Mexico on Oct. 17. The ship skipped a planned stop there Friday, the cruise line says, after Mexican authorities delayed granting permission to dock.
Reuters/Landov

Here's a question about the fine line between a prudent response and worrisome overkill: Is the sight of a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter hovering over a cruise ship to pick up a blood sample (which is to be tested for Ebola) a sight that should inspire feelings of reassurance, or a nagging sense that something is not quite right?

The question is still in the air after the weekend's effort to airlift a few milliliters of blood from a passenger who was on board what is now being called the Ebola Cruise.

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6:26pm

Fri October 17, 2014
Shots - Health News

Why Won't The Fear Of Airborne Ebola Go Away?

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 10:19 am

The Ebola virus as seen under an electron microscope.
BSIP UIG via Getty Images

How many times do top officials have to say that the Ebola virus is not airborne?

A lot, apparently.

Here is President Obama Thursday: "This is not an airborne disease. It is not easy to catch."

And the day before: "It is not like the flu. It is not airborne."

And Friday, a reporter asked the inevitable question about airborne Ebola when Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, held a press briefing about nurse Nina Pham's transfer to the National Institute of Health.

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