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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The Two-Way
1:29 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

Russian Rocket Poised For Crucial Supply Run To Space Station

On Friday, a Russian Soyuz rocket will send an unmanned cargo ship with more than 3 tons of food, water and fuel for astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
Russian Federal Space Agency

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 4:30 pm

The stakes are high for a routine cargo mission to the International Space Station, after a string of failures has left the orbiting outpost running somewhat low on supplies.

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Science
4:15 pm
Tue June 30, 2015

To Keep Up With Earth's Rotation, Clocks Will Tick An Extra Second Tonight

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 7:14 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Space
5:05 am
Mon June 29, 2015

SpaceX Rocket Breaks Up On Liftoff

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 6:33 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And in other news, an unmanned supply rocket blasted off yesterday in Florida headed to the International Space Station.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROCKET LAUNCH)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Three, two, one. Mission sequence start and lift off.

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The Two-Way
1:03 pm
Wed June 17, 2015

NASA Satellites Show World's Thirst For Groundwater

The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, or GRACE, used a pair of satellites to measure water use in the world's aquifers.
NASA

Originally published on Wed June 17, 2015 6:25 pm

New data from NASA's GRACE satellites show that many of the world's biggest aquifers are being sucked dry at a rate far greater than they are being replenished. Although scientists don't know how much water is left, they hope their findings will serve as a "red flag" for regions that may be overusing water.

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The Two-Way
5:28 pm
Mon June 8, 2015

Solar Sail Unfurls In Space

The new spacecraft, called LightSail, is orbiting Earth. Future versions could travel to the moon and beyond.
The Planetary Society

Originally published on Tue June 9, 2015 7:34 am

A group of space enthusiasts has successfully launched a solar sail into orbit.

The test could be a first step to cheaper exploration of the solar system, according to Bill Nye, the CEO of the nonprofit Planetary Society, which launched the satellite.

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The Two-Way
3:37 am
Fri June 5, 2015

The Pentagon Wants These Robots To Save The Day

NASA's RoboSimian is among the robots taking part in the Defense Department competition. The Space Agency may one day use it to explore caves on other planets.
Dan Goods JPL

Originally published on Sat June 6, 2015 7:13 am

On Friday, 24 robots and their masters will be going head-to-head in California for a $2 million prize. The robotics challenge is sponsored by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Those fearing the Pentagon-sponsored prize could signal the dawn of Terminator-style cyborgs needn't worry. "Even though they look like us, and they may look a little bit mean, there's really nothing inside," says Gill Pratt, the program manager running this competition. "What you're really seeing is a puppet."

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Environment
6:47 pm
Thu June 4, 2015

Scientists Cast Doubt On An Apparent 'Hiatus' In Global Warming

A fully loaded container ship sails along the coast. Historically, ships have taken most of the sea measurements that go into the estimate of Earth's average surface temperature.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri June 5, 2015 8:31 pm

A team of government scientists has revised its estimate for how much the planet has been warming.

The new results, published in the journal Science, may dispel the idea that Earth has been in the midst of a "global warming hiatus" — a period over the past 20 years where the planet's temperature appears to have risen very little.

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Shots - Health News
5:32 pm
Thu May 28, 2015

CDC Investigates Live Anthrax Shipments

A security fence surrounds the main part of the U.S. Army's Dugway Proving Ground, a testing laboratory in the Utah desert. The Army says it mistakenly shipped live anthrax from Dugway to several labs in the U.S. and Korea.
George Frey Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 28, 2015 9:01 pm

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still trying to figure out how the military managed to ship anthrax spores that were apparently live from one of its facilities to more than a dozen labs across the United States.

"We have a team at the [military] lab to determine what may have led to this incident," says CDC spokesman Jason McDonald. In addition, he says, the agency is working with health officials in nine states to make sure the potentially live samples are safely disposed of and the labs affected are decontaminated.

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Space
4:27 pm
Thu April 30, 2015

NASA Spacecraft Crashes Into Mercury, Concluding 4-Year Study Of Planet

Originally published on Thu April 30, 2015 8:19 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Science
3:56 am
Fri April 24, 2015

After 25 Years, The Hubble Space Telescope Still Wows Humanity

(Left) This is one of two cameras that the telescope originally carried, and it has since been replaced with a more up-to-date version. (Right) Workers study Hubble's 8-foot main mirror. After launch the mirror was found to have a problem, which astronauts corrected in 1993.
SSPL/Getty Images; Hubblesite

Originally published on Fri April 24, 2015 4:26 pm

Mike Massimino is one of the last people to ever see the Hubble Space Telescope in person.

From inside his orbiting space shuttle, the telescope first appeared on the horizon as a star, says Massimino, who was an astronaut on the final mission to service the space telescope in 2009.

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Science
5:39 pm
Sat April 18, 2015

Gazing Into Those Puppy-Dog Eyes May Actually Be Good For You

Originally published on Sat April 18, 2015 6:25 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
2:56 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Scientists Probe Puppy Love

A direct, friendly gaze seems to help cement the bond of affection between people and their pooches.
Dan Perez/Flickr

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 5:28 pm

It's a question that bedevils dog owners the world over: "Is she staring at me because she loves me? Or because she wants another biscuit?"

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The Salt
3:42 am
Wed April 15, 2015

The Space Station Gets A Coffee Bar

ESA/NASA

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 2:14 pm

In space, all they have is instant.

"For an instant coffee, it's an excellent instant coffee," says Vickie Kloeris, who manages the space station's food supply for NASA. Astronauts are allotted up to three freeze-dried cups (pouches, actually) a day, and Kloeris says it's "extremely popular."

But, she adds, "Can it compete with brewed espresso? No."

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National Security
4:59 am
Tue March 31, 2015

After Snowden, The NSA Faces Recruitment Challenge

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 10:16 am

Daniel Swann is exactly the type of person the National Security Agency would love to have working for it. The 22-year-old is a fourth-year concurrent bachelor's-master's student at Johns Hopkins University with a bright future in cybersecurity.

And growing up in Annapolis, Md., not far from the NSA's headquarters, Swann thought he might work at the agency, which intercepts phone calls, emails and other so-called "signals intelligence" from U.S. adversaries.

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The Two-Way
7:39 am
Sat March 28, 2015

A Day's A Day The World Around — But Shorter On Saturn

Saturn has a rocky surface, but it's deep beneath the clouds. That makes it hard to tell exactly how long the day is.
NASA

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 4:38 pm

Researchers have answered a question that has been nagging them for years: Exactly how long is a day on the planet Saturn? The result (10 hours and 32 minutes or so) was published this week in the journal Nature, and could teach scientists more about the giant, ringed planet.

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The Two-Way
6:40 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Official Report: Nuclear Waste Accident Caused By Wrong Cat Litter

Workers at Los Alamos National Laboratory used organic cat litter to clean up nuclear waste. The litter triggered chemical reactions that later caused a drum to burst.
Department of Energy/Flickr

Originally published on Fri March 27, 2015 8:35 am

A yearlong investigation by government scientists has concluded that a major accident at a nuclear waste dump was caused by the wrong brand of cat litter.

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The Two-Way
4:24 am
Thu March 12, 2015

Researchers Think There's A Warm Ocean On Enceladus

A new analysis suggests that Enceladus' ocean is being heated from the bottom up. That could explain plumes of ice seen at its south pole.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 8:07 pm

Saturn's moon Enceladus is a mystery. From Earth it looks tiny and cold, and yet it's not a dead hunk of rock. Passing spacecraft see trenches and ridges, similar to Earth's, and in 2005 NASA's Cassini mission spotted ice geysers streaming from its south pole.

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Science
5:07 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

As Climate Wars Heat Up, Some Skeptics Are Targets

Climate skeptic Willie Soon has argued in the past that too much ice is bad for polar bears. An investigation into Soon's funding found he took money from the fossil fuel industry and did not always disclose that source.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 7:57 pm

Scientists who warn that the earth's climate is changing have been subjected to hacking, investigations, and even court action in recent years. That ire usually comes from conservative groups and climate skeptics seeking to discredit the research findings.

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The Two-Way
4:13 am
Fri March 6, 2015

NASA Probe Reaches Orbit Around Dwarf Planet

Astronomers have known about Ceres for centuries, but they don't really know what to make of it.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 12:38 pm

Updated at 9:45 a.m. ET.

This morning, a plucky NASA spacecraft has entered the orbit of one of the oddest little worlds in our solar system.

Ceres is round like a planet, but really small. Its total surface would cover just a third of the United States.

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Shots - Health News
4:59 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Gerbils Likely Pushed Plague To Europe in Middle Ages

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 9:43 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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