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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Planet Money
5:27 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Textbook Arbitrage: Making Money Off Used Books

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 8:55 am

On the most recent episode of our show, we told you the story of two guys who think they've found a guaranteed way to buy low and sell high. Their secret strategy — buying and selling used textbooks.

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Business
4:46 am
Thu October 30, 2014

The Independent Oil Producer You Usually Don't Hear From

Originally published on Thu October 30, 2014 2:25 pm

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Planet Money
3:41 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

How College Students Battled Textbook Publishers To A Draw, In 3 Graphs

Quoctrung Bui/NPR

Originally published on Tue October 14, 2014 1:18 pm

College textbooks are expensive. You probably already know this. A new biology or economics book can cost $300.

And prices have been soaring, doubling over the past decade, growing faster than the price of housing, cars, even health care.

But, surprisingly, the amount students actually spend on textbooks has not been rising. In fact, the best data we could find on this shows students have been spending a bit less over time.

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Planet Money
3:36 am
Thu August 21, 2014

Typewriters, Underwater Hotels And Picturephones: The Future, As Seen From 1964

General Motors

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 4:56 pm

The 1964 World's Fair showcased jet packs and new miracles of science. There was an entire house made of Formica. You could wipe it clean with a sponge!

The people who put the fair together tried to imagine how the future would look. Here are a few predictions, and how they actually turned out.

1. We had picture phones back then?

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Business
7:02 am
Fri August 1, 2014

Everyone Goes To The Store To Get Milk. So Why's It Way In The Back?

Originally published on Fri August 1, 2014 7:14 am

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

Transcript

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Planet Money
3:31 am
Fri July 11, 2014

When Ikea Raises Its Minimum Wage, Where Does The Money Come From?

Flickr user: dahlstroms

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 3:04 pm

Ikea, a company famous for keeping its costs down, recently announced that it would raise the average minimum wage for its retail workers to $10.76 an hour. Why would the company volunteer to pay its workers more?

"By taking better care of our coworkers," says Rob Olson, the acting president of Ikea U.S., "they will take better care of our customers, who will take better care of Ikea. We see it as a win-win-win opportunity."

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Planet Money
5:12 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Volatility Index Indicates Wall Street Is Bored

Originally published on Thu June 12, 2014 9:40 am

An economic indicator commonly called the VIX, volatility index, is also known as the fear index. Whatever you call it, the index is hitting lows not seen since before the financial crisis.

Planet Money
6:08 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Why A Pack Of Peanut Butter M&M's Weighs A Tiny Bit Less Than A Regular Pack

Peanut Butter M&M's are larger and more irregular than standard M&M's.
Quoctrung Bui/NPR

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 5:03 pm

The other day I went down to the little shop in the lobby of our building for a snack. I couldn't decide whether I wanted regular M&M's or Peanut Butter M&M's so I bought them both. On the way back upstairs to the office, I noticed something strange on the labels. Each had cost $1, but the pack of Peanut Butter M&M's was a very tiny bit lighter: 0.06 ounces lighter!

I wanted to know why, so I called a couple of experts and asked for their theories:

Theory No. 1: Peanut Butter M&M's are more expensive to make.

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Planet Money
5:05 am
Thu May 22, 2014

On The Internet, A Penny Is Nothing To Sneeze At

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 9:18 am

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

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Planet Money
2:31 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Is A Stradivarius Just A Violin?

A Stradivarius violin at the restoration and research laboratory of the Musee de la Musique, Paris, in 2009.
Patrick Kovarik AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 8:00 pm

The Stradivarius violin gets its name from master craftsman Antonio Stradivari. When he died in 1737, his secrets died with him: No one has ever been able to duplicate the sound of the violins or violas he made.

His instruments have taken on a mythical quality. Today they fetch millions of dollars at auctions; Sotheby's will soon auction off a viola that it expects to sell for $45 million.

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Around the Nation
4:00 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

The Mystery Of Tappan Zee: Why Build A Bridge Where The River's Wide?

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 7:59 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Now, there's a curious fact about the Tappan Zee Bridge that President Obama was standing next to today. It's located at a spot where it seems to make the least economic sense to place a bridge - one of the widest parts of the Hudson River. Three years ago, David Kestenbaum of our Planet Money team dug into this. Here's an encore presentation of his report.

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Economy
4:44 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

The History Of Light, In 6 Minutes And 47 Seconds

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 11:57 am

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And now, 4,000 years of economic growth in seven minutes. This story comes, of course, from our Planet Money team. David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein bring us the history of light and how the world came what it is today.

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Health Care
5:03 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

How One State Convinced Its 'Young Invincibles' To Get Health Insurance

A 2008 ad trying to convince uninsured Massachusetts residents to get signed up for health insurance.
Sawyer Miller Advertising

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 12:45 pm

Buying insurance doesn't always feel like it makes economic sense, especially for young healthy people. So why are they still willing to pay?

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

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Planet Money
4:59 am
Fri April 4, 2014

New Web Addresses Provide Alternatives To Crowded Domains

Originally published on Fri April 4, 2014 8:22 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On a Friday it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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Planet Money
5:41 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Does Raising The Minimum Wage Kill Jobs?

Kenzo Tribouillard AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 7:50 pm

President Obama has called for increasing the minimum wage, saying it will help some of the poorest Americans. Opponents argue that a higher minimum wage will lead employers to cut jobs.

Figuring out the effect of raising the minimum wage is tough. Ideally you'd like to compare one universe where the minimum was raised against an alternate universe where it remained fixed.

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Planet Money
6:34 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

A Venture Capitalist Is Betting A Pair Of Socks (And $50 Million) On Bitcoin's Future

Marc van der Chijs Flickr

Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 11:26 am

Ben Horowitz is a big-time venture capitalist. His firm invested in Facebook and Twitter. More recently, his firm invested some $50 million in startups related to bitcoin, the virtual currency that works like online cash. Ben thinks bitcoin is going to change the way people buy and sell stuff on the Internet.

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Planet Money
3:39 am
Fri January 17, 2014

The Birth Of The Minimum Wage In America

Franklin D. Roosevelt Libarary

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 4:46 pm

In 1895, legislators in New York state decided to improve working conditions in what at the time could be a deadly profession: baking bread.

"Bakeries are actually extremely dangerous places to work," says Eric Rauchway, a historian at the University of California, Davis. "Because flour is such a fine particulate, if it gets to hang in the air it can catch fire and the whole room can go up in a sheet of flame."

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Planet Money
5:22 am
Thu January 2, 2014

A Bet, Five Metals And The Future Of The Planet

James Cridland Flickr

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 11:24 am

This famous bet — between a biologist and an economist — was over population growth. It started three decades ago, but it helped set the tone for environmental debates that are still happening today.

The biologist at the heart of this bet was Paul Ehrlich at Stanford. He wrote a best-selling book in 1968 called The Population Bomb. It was so popular he appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

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Planet Money
11:33 am
Tue December 24, 2013

The Great Handbell War

Malmark handbells on the left and Schulmerich bells on the right.
malmark.com/schulmerichbells.com

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 12:21 pm

Jake Malta left his job as chief engineer at Schulmerich, the world's biggest handbell company, in 1973.

But Malta couldn't stop thinking about bells. He had a vision for a perfect bell — a bell he had never quite achieved at Schulmerich.

So he set up shop in his living room. "He had a folding table, two of them, stretched out with all of his drafting supplies and piano behind him," his daughter, Joann, says.

He traveled to Europe and studied the physics of bells. He made sketch after sketch. "He knew that he could make it better," his daughter says.

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Planet Money
2:44 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

We Found This 20-Year-Old T-Shirt In Kenya. The Internet Found The Original Owner

Tshirt
Quoctrung Bui

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 12:46 am

We recently published a story about how used clothes that get donated in the U.S. often wind up for sale in markets in Africa. As part of the story, we published some photos of used T-shirts we found in a couple of markets in Kenya.

One shirt in particular caught our eye:

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