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
3:58 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Organic Cat Litter Chief Suspect In Nuclear Waste Accident

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

Originally published on Sat May 24, 2014 2:12 am

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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Science
4:18 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 7:27 pm

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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The Two-Way
4:03 am
Mon May 12, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 9:01 am

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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The Two-Way
2:33 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Mars Rover Takes A Break To Drill A Hole

The rover has drilled a hole in sandstone. It will soon collect samples to learn more about how the rocks formed.
NASA/Caltech/JPL

NASA's Curiosity rover is on an epic trip to a distant mountain, but it took a brief break Wednesday to dip its drill into the Martian soil.

The drilling is taking place at a place called Waypoint Kimberley. The area is a point of convergence for several different types of terrain, says John Grotzinger, the rover's project scientist. The exposed rock and different formations made the way point a good place to "stop and smell the roses," he says.

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The Two-Way
4:09 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Scientists Pinpoint Source Of Antarctic 'Quack'

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

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 1:51 pm

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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