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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Space
8:11 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Rosetta Spacecraft Arrives At Comet After 10-Year Chase

Rosetta's OSIRIS narrow-angle camera took this close-up of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Sunday.
ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 10:53 am

After a decade of travel, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft arrived at a comet early this morning.

"Ten years we've been waiting in the car to get to scientific Disneyland," ESA's Mark McCaughrean said. "It's a wonderful moment."

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The Two-Way
3:45 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

In Quest To Harpoon A Comet, A Spacecraft Stalks Its Prey

The Rosetta spacecraft took this image of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 4 August 2014 from a distance of just 145 miles.
ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 8:47 am

Tomorrow morning, a European space probe will arrive at a comet with a tongue-twister of a name: Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Getting there has been proven even trickier than pronouncing it.

The Rosetta spacecraft began its journey way back in March of 2004.

First it swung past Earth to gather speed. Then it catapulted out to Mars, for a boost from that planet's gravity field. Then in 2007, it came back to Earth for another push — then back out to an asteroid, and back to Earth.

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The Two-Way
5:36 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

After A Decade, Comet-Chasing Spacecraft Nearly There

The Rosetta Spacecraft is within 186 miles of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, less than the distance from New York to Boston.
ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 12:43 am

It's been a long journey, but it's nearly over. On Wednesday, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft will finally arrive at the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Humans have sent spacecraft hurtling past comets before, but Rosetta is doing something very different. It's sidling up next to 67P to join the big, dirty ice ball on its journey past the sun.

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The Salt
8:55 am
Thu July 31, 2014

How To Order Pizza From A Nuclear Command Bunker

Getting a pizza delivered to a remote nuclear missle base is tricky. Unfortunately, the Air Force won't let you use its helicopters.
Dan Gage/USAF

Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 11:34 am

I spent months working with the U.S. Air Force to get access to a remote underground nuclear bunker in Nebraska for our radio series on America's missile forces. There was only one question left to answer before I left.

What did I want for lunch?

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NPR Story
3:29 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Should America Keep Its Aging Nuclear Missiles?

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 11:09 am

Sixty feet beneath western Nebraska, Lt. Raj Bansal sits in front of an ancient-looking computer console used to monitor 10 nuclear missiles.

Everything in this command bunker feels outdated, including the tiny toilet. It's working today, but like a lot of equipment down here, it doesn't always. Bansal points to a drain under the command post.

"At some point, sewage has flooded this bottom area," he says. "It smells awful."

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National Security
2:32 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Welcome To The Nuclear Command Bunker

Lt. Raj Bansal and Capt. Joseph Shannon (right) approach Foxtrot-01, a remote nuclear missile base in Nebraska.
Geoffrey Brumfiel NPR

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 11:35 am

The stretch of Interstate 80 between Cheyenne, Wyo., and Lincoln, Neb., is straight and flat. High plains stretch out on either side.

But scattered along this unremarkable road, the Air Force keeps some of its most powerful weapons — Minuteman III nuclear missiles.

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National Security
12:19 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

To Stop Cheating, Nuclear Officers Ditch The Grades

First Lt. Patrick Romanofski (center) and 2nd Lt. Andrew Beckner (left) practice the launch of nuclear weapons. Promotions are now more strongly influenced by hands-on performance in this simulator.
R.J. Oriez U.S. Air Force

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 8:54 am

The young officers at F.E. Warren Air Force Base have an enormous job: to keep 150 nuclear-tipped missiles ready to launch at a moment's notice.

Understandably, they're expected to know exactly what they're doing.

Three times a month, they're tested on the weapons and the codes used to launch them. Anything less than 90 percent is a fail.

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News
3:27 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

What Brought Down The Malaysian Airliner?

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 7:40 pm

Shortly after news broke that a Malaysia Airlines flight crashed in eastern Ukraine, suspicions began to swirl that the plane had been shot down. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel speaks with Audie Cornish about the feasibility that a missile brought down the airliner.

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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The Two-Way
2:34 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Physicists Crush Diamonds With Giant Laser

Physicists put diamonds at the center of this massive laser, to see what would happen.
Matt Swisher Matt Swisher/LLNL

Originally published on Sun August 3, 2014 7:20 am

Physicists have used the world's most powerful laser to zap diamonds. The results, they say, could tell us more about the cores of giant planets.

"Diamonds have very special properties, besides being very expensive and used for jewelrey etc.," says Raymond Smith, a researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. "It's the hardest substance known to man."

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Science
3:40 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

In A Lab Store Room, An Unsettling Surprise: Lost Vials Of Smallpox

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 5:13 pm

Scientists at the National Institutes of Health made an unpleasant discovery last week as they cleaned out an old laboratory: The lab contained vials of the smallpox virus, previously unknown to authorities. The vials have since been transferred to a secure lab at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

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