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.



Tue July 12, 2011
Planet Money

How Frequent Fliers Exploit A Government Program To Get Free Trips

Originally published on Wed July 13, 2011 12:01 am

Jane Liaw Liaw orders coins from the U.S. Mint to earn frequent-flier miles.
Jane Liaw

We recently reported on the the government's failed effort to persuade Americans to use dollar coins.

But the coins have found at least one group of fans: Travel enthusiasts who buy thousands of dollar coins with credit cards that award frequent-flier miles for purchases.

Once in possession of the coins — shipped to them by the government for free — they can deposit them into their bank accounts and pay off the credit card bills. The result: a free ticket to anywhere.

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Tue June 28, 2011
NPR News Investigations

$1 Billion That Nobody Wants

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 4:33 pm

Millions of dollars worth of $1 coins languish in a vault at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond's Baltimore branch.
John W. Poole NPR

Politicians in Washington hardly let a few minutes go by without mentioning how broke the government is. So, it's a little surprising that they've created a stash of more than $1 billion that almost no one wants.

Unused dollar coins have been quietly piling up in Federal Reserve vaults in breathtaking numbers, thanks to a government program that has required their production since 2007.

And even though the neglected mountain of money recently grew past the $1 billion mark, the U.S. Mint will keep making more and more of the coins under a congressional mandate.

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Fri June 10, 2011
Planet Money

The Comedian Who Ran For Mayor

Jon Gnarr, photographed in 2010.
Halldor Kolbeins AFP/Getty Images

Jon Gnarr is an absurdist Icelandic comedian. Last year, he ran for mayor of Reykjavik. Like most absurdist comedians, he had no political experience.

"I just invented a new political party," he says. "I was not drunk or anything."

Gnarr called his party the "Best Party." Because what could be better than the best party?

He created a 10-point campaign platform — with 13 points.

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Tue May 24, 2011
Planet Money

Why Iceland Isn't Just A Barren Rock

This is the latest in a series on Iceland by Planet Money correspondent David Kestenbaum and Planet Money's Icelandic intern, Baldur Hedinsson. Here's more from their trip to Iceland.

This was supposed to be the beginning of what passes for spring in Iceland. But a volcanic eruption is coating much of the country in grey ash.

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Fri May 20, 2011
Planet Money

Gold: The 4,000-Year-Old Bubble

Scott Olson Getty Images

Last fall, we bought a quarter-ounce gold coin. A few weeks ago, we sold it. The price of gold rose while we owned the coin. But because we had to pay a commission and sales tax when we bought it, we wound up losing a little money in the end.

In this story — the last in our series on gold and the meaning of money — we try to answer one final question: Is gold in a bubble?

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