Geoff Brumfiel | New Hampshire Public Radio

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.

Copyright 2020 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.

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."

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

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It is called herd immunity, and it's a concept some leaders and scientists have considered when it comes to responding to this pandemic. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reports on what exactly this idea is and why it presents troubles.

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."

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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.

This week, NASA and the commercial company SpaceX are set to launch two astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in a new capsule. This is the first launch by NASA of astronauts from U.S. soil in nearly a decade, but it's happening in the middle of a pandemic.

Here are some of the ways that the coronavirus will, and won't, change the plans for the space agency's latest launch.

Astronauts have been quarantining since before it was cool.

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If you want to visit the Great Pyramids or the Great Wall or the Taj Mahal, forget it.

Egypt, China and India are just a few of the dozens of countries that have imposed strict travel restrictions to keep visitors, and the coronavirus, out. An analysis by NPR based on data from the International Air Transport Association found that more than three-quarters of the world's nations and territories have suspended travel from at least one other place.

Over the past week, President Trump and his team have repeatedly claimed to have intelligence showing that the new coronavirus accidentally escaped from a lab in China.

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.

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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.

The new coronavirus is killing hundreds each day and swamping hospitals around the world. But catching the disease does not mean you will end up in the ICU.

"There are many patients that are fine and that are at home," says Michelle Ng Gong, the chief of critical care medicine at the Montefiore Health System in New York City. Those who don't need a hospital make up "I would dare say, in fact, the vast majority of people," she says.

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

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Who should get tested for the coronavirus? The federal government advises that only certain groups should receive tests. But as NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reports, experts say testing must be far broader before the pandemic is under control.

Stay inside, don't meet with friends, don't go to work — these are the messages coming from public health officials at every level of government. But increasingly, experts say they believe those stark warnings must be augmented with another message:

If you think you might be sick, even a little sick, get tested for coronavirus.

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

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People infected with the coronavirus can spread it easily, even if they're not yet experiencing severe symptoms of the disease, according to virologists watching the pandemic unfold in Europe.

The fragile peace deal taking shape in Afghanistan could spell the end of an era of for the U.S. military, one marked by efforts at nation-building and winning hearts and minds.

It appears that the Pentagon is also intent on ending a research program from that era — to fund social science for the military.

New imagery from commercial satellites that was shared with NPR suggests Iran is making repairs and preparing for a space launch, following a recent string of failed attempts.

The imagery, taken Sunday by the commercial firm Planet and shared via the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, shows vehicles parked at a building used to assemble Iran's space rockets at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in northern Iran. A second group of vehicles is visible at a circular launch pad that was heavily damaged during failed launch preparations last year.

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

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As Franco just mentioned, the president said he wanted to try and persuade remaining partners of the Iran nuclear deal to abandon it. So how far is Iran from actually developing such a weapon? Joining me to parse that out is NPR's Geoff Brumfiel.

Updated at 2:45 p.m. ET

Satellite photos taken Wednesday show that an Iranian missile strike has caused extensive damage at the Ain al-Assad air base in Iraq, which hosts U.S. and coalition troops.

The photos, taken by the commercial company Planet and shared with NPR via the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, show hangars and buildings hit hard by a barrage of Iranian missiles that were fired early Wednesday morning local time.

A comet from another star will swing by our sun Dec. 8.

Known as 2I/Borisov, it is the first comet to ever be seen coming from interstellar space. But despite its alien origins, astronomers say it actually looks pretty familiar.

"Borisov is a comet very like what we have in our own solar system," says Michele Bannister, a planetary astronomer at Queen's University Belfast told NPR's Short Wave. Whatever planetary system it formed in, "it's a lot like our own."

Fifty years ago, astronaut Pete Conrad stepped out of the lunar module onto the surface of the moon.

His first words were: "Whoopie! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that's a long one for me."

Conrad, who stood at just 5 feet 6 inches tall, was only the third human to set foot on the lunar surface. He did it on November 19, 1969, just four months after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made the first lunar landing. However, unlike Armstrong and Aldrin, Conrad and fellow astronaut Alan Bean are not household names.

Updated at 1:50 p.m. ET

They look like talk shows, news programs, and comedy accounts, but they all share two common traits: They are unabashedly anti-American, and they carry a warning from YouTube:

"RT is funded in whole or in part by the Russian government."

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

On the face of it, NASA's newest probe sounds incredible. Known as Dragonfly, it is a dual-rotor quadcopter (technically an octocopter, even more technically an X8 octocopter); it's roughly the size of a compact car; it's completely autonomous; it's nuclear powered; and it will hover above the surface of Saturn's moon Titan.

The first thing Melissa Hanham did when she saw President Trump's tweet last week was take a screen grab.

"My reaction was to immediately save the image to my phone just in case it got taken down," she says.

The wording on the tweet was cryptic: "The United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident during final launch preparations for the Safir [space launch vehicle] Launch at Semnan Launch Site One in Iran," the president said. "I wish Iran best wishes and good luck in determining what happened at Site One."

Walmart announced Tuesday that it is ending sales of some kinds of ammunition at its stores. The move came in the wake of two deadly shootings at Walmart stores in recent months, including one in El Paso, Texas, that killed 22 people.

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A commercial satellite image shows just how much of Grand Bahama Island is underwater following days of torrential rain and massive storm surge from Hurricane Dorian.

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