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Geoff Brumfiel

Geoff Brumfiel works as a senior editor and correspondent on NPR's science desk. His editing duties include science and space, while his reporting focuses on the intersection of science and national security.

From April of 2016 to September of 2018, Brumfiel served as an editor overseeing basic research and climate science. Prior to that, he worked for three years as a reporter covering physics and space for the network. 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.

Before NPR, Brumfiel was based in London as a senior reporter for Nature Magazine from 2007-2013. There, he covered energy, space, climate, and the physical sciences. From 2002 – 2007, Brumfiel was Nature Magazine's Washington Correspondent.

Brumfiel is the 2013 winner of the Association of British Science Writers award for news reporting on the Fukushima nuclear accident.

Last month, Dr. Simone Gold stood before a crowd at a conservative church in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and delivered a talk riddled with misinformation. She told people to avoid vaccination against the coronavirus. As an alternative, she pushed drugs that have not been proven effective at treating COVID-19 — drugs that she also offered to prescribe to the audience in exchange for $90 telehealth appointments.

Spend any time around a baby and you're likely to hear some babbling. Now, new research shows baby bats can do it too.

A paper published on Thursday in the latest issue of the journal Science finds similarities between the babbling of human infants and the babbling of the greater sac-winged bat (Saccopteryx bilineata) — a small species of bat that lives in Central and South America.

Sore arms. Headaches. Low-grade fevers.

These are some of the expected side-effects of a COVID-19 vaccine — a sign that the body's mounting an immune response and learning how to fend off the novel coronavirus.

China appears to be expanding its sprawling nuclear weapons testing complex in the nation's western desert. Satellite imagery shared exclusively with NPR shows a possible new tunnel being dug and fresh roads added at the site, known as Lop Nur, where China has tested its nuclear weapons in the past.

Misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines can appear almost anywhere: from an uncle's Facebook post to a well-trusted news commentator. But where does it come from, and why do some myths spread further than others?

With the help of the internet research firm Graphika, NPR analyzed the rise of one persistent set of lies about COVID-19 vaccines: that they can affect female fertility.

Despite a mountain of scientific evidence showing the vaccines are safe and effective, the false information persists.

With about a third of adults in the U.S. still completely unvaccinated, and cases of COVID-19 on the rise, the U.S. surgeon general is calling for a war against "health misinformation."

It inspires comparisons to Area-51: A massive, three-mile-long runway in a remote patch of Chinese desert, hundreds of miles from any cities.

Now, it looks like the site is undergoing an expansion. Satellite imagery from the commercial company Maxar supplied exclusively to NPR shows around a dozen large concrete buildings under construction near the landing strip. The buildings mark a significant change at the airfield, which up until now lacked much in the way of permanent accommodation.

The largest U.S. database for detecting events that might be vaccine side effects is being used by activists to spread disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

This week, President Biden directed his intelligence agencies to take another look at whether the coronavirus resulted from a lab accident in China. For many, the announcement felt like a big change, putting what had been a conspiracy theory about the virus's origins back on the table.

The end of this pandemic sometimes gets boiled down to two words: herd immunity. But now, as an academic debate swirls over when or even if America can get to a high enough percentage of people with immunity to reach that goal, some scientists say it's time for the public to stop worrying about it.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Sayer Ji is a 48-year-old proponent of what he calls natural medicine.

"My parents didn't know about natural medicine, so it really wasn't until I was 17 that I learned some basic principles of nutrition and self care," he told attendees at a recent virtual conference. "I was liberated from needing pharmaceutical medicines."

Ji was also there promoting his website, full of natural remedies and reams of anti-vaccine misinformation. He sells subscriptions for anywhere from $75 to $850 a year.

A SpaceX rocket lifted off from Florida early Friday morning on what is becoming a routine mission, carrying four astronauts to the International Space Station.

Joyce Ann Kraner is eager for the pandemic to end and for life to get back to normal. Kraner, 49, wants to be able to hug her mother, who lives in a nursing home.

But she says she has no plans to get the vaccine, even though it's widely available in her community of Murfreesboro, Tenn. "I feel like I'm healthy," she says.

For months, Iran has slowly been violating terms of a 2015 deal designed to limit its nuclear program. It has been accumulating enriched uranium, which can be used for nuclear reactors or, potentially, nuclear weapons. It's been ramping up its research and development.

But until recently, there was one thing Iran didn't touch: the nuclear inspections conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

When NASA's Perseverance rover touched down on the Martian surface last week, humans cheered from the confines of planet Earth.

But if the space agency or others hope to leave and send astronauts to Mars, experts say they need to consider a technology that was studied decades ago but never fully developed: nuclear-powered rockets.

Updated at 7:48 p.m. ET

Four astronauts lifted off Sunday night from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard a SpaceX rocket bound for the International Space Station.

Liftoff occurred right on schedule at 7:27 p.m., despite concerns about weather earlier in the day. NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi reached orbit after a 12-minute ride to space.

Updated Oct. 26 at 6:11 p.m. ET

Two new peer-reviewed studies are showing a sharp drop in mortality among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The drop is seen in all groups, including older patients and those with underlying conditions, suggesting that physicians are getting better at helping patients survive their illness.

Perhaps fittingly for the year 2020, the Nobel Prize in physics has recognized research on black holes.

The prize was awarded to Roger Penrose of the University of Oxford, for demonstrating that the general theory of relativity leads to the formation of black holes; and to Reinhard Genzel of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and Andrea Ghez of the University of California, Los Angeles, for the discovery of a compact object at the center of the Milky Way galaxy that governs the orbits of stars, for which a black hole is the only known explanation.

A commercial satellite photo may reveal a new Chinese space plane just moments after it landed at a remote site on the western side of China.

The photo, which is too low resolution to be conclusive, was snapped by the San Francisco-based company Planet. It shows what could be the classified Chinese spacecraft on a long runway, along with several support vehicles lined up nearby.

Dr. Scott Atlas has literally written the book on magnetic resonance imaging. He has also co-authored numerous scientific studies on the economics of medical imaging technology.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Tomorrow is the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki. It was the second time nuclear weapons were used in war and also the last. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel has the story of the bombing and why decisions made afterwards are still a problem today.

New satellite photos show the aftermath of Tuesday's massive, deadly explosion at the port of Beirut.

As the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly throughout the U.S. and beyond, many are wondering: How on earth will this end? In an interview televised this week, President Trump reiterated his belief that sooner or later the virus will burn itself out. "I will be right eventually," the president told Fox News host Chris Wallace. "It's going to disappear, and I'll be right."

The first thing to know about a new comet that has appeared in the evening sky is that it's one big ice ball: about 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) across.

"Just to put it into context, about 65 million years ago there was an asteroid or a comet that was thought to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs," says astronomer Amy Mainzer. "That object is thought to have been about 5 to 10 kilometers across."

Updated at 6:55 p.m. ET

NASA astronauts are heading to space from U.S. soil for the first time in nine years, aboard SpaceX's Dragon capsule, the maiden crewed flight of the innovative spacecraft.

The mission, which is sending Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station, is a bold new venture for the space agency's plan to allow commercial companies to take its astronauts into low-Earth orbit.

Virus researchers say there is virtually no chance that the new coronavirus was released as result of a laboratory accident in China or anywhere else.

The assessment, made by more than half-a-dozen scientists familiar with lab accidents and how research on coronaviruses is conducted, casts doubt on recent claims that a mistake may have unleashed the coronavirus on the world.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

President Trump is ready to reopen America - at least parts of it where the coronavirus appears to be less of a problem.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Updated at 10 a.m. ET

It's a strange and tragic pattern in some cases of COVID-19: The patient struggles through the first week of illness, and perhaps even begins to feel a little better.

Then suddenly they crash.

North Korea appears to be expanding a key rocket launch facility it once pledged to dismantle, according to new satellite imagery shared exclusively with NPR.

The imagery, taken by commercial company Planet and shared via the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, shows new roads under construction at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station.

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