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
2:58 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 12:18 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
4:48 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

Why Do We Sign For Things? A Rabbi, A Lawyer And A MasterCard Exec Explain

David Kestenbaum's signature
David Kestenbaum NPR

Originally published on Tue September 9, 2014 10:21 am

Take a look at your signature the next time you buy something with a credit card. Maybe you spell out every letter. Maybe you just put a squiggly line. The other day, I drew a tree.

Signing is a very old ritual, according to Rabbi Pinchas Allouche. He's a scholar of the Talmud, a collection of Jewish texts that's over 1,000 years old.

The Talmud not only mentions signatures; it has rules for them. "A scribble is prohibited," Allouche says. The name has to be legible. "Just yesterday, when signing a Toys R Us receipt, I thought of the Talmud," he says.

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Planet Money
2:36 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 3:56 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
6:14 am
Fri August 1, 2014

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

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

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Planet Money
4:12 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Volatility Index Indicates Wall Street Is Bored

Originally published on Thu June 12, 2014 8:40 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
5:08 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 4:03 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
4:05 am
Thu May 22, 2014

On The Internet, A Penny Is Nothing To Sneeze At

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 8:18 am

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

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Planet Money
2:15 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 7:00 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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Economy
3:44 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

The History Of Light, In 6 Minutes And 47 Seconds

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 10:57 am

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

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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
3:37 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 11:45 am

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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