Christopher Joyce

Christopher Joyce is a correspondent on the science desk at NPR. His stories can be heard on all of NPR's news programs, including NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

Joyce seeks out stories in some of the world's most inaccessible places. He has reported from remote villages in the Amazon and Central American rainforests, Tibetan outposts in the mountains of western China, and the bottom of an abandoned copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Over the course of his career, Joyce has written stories about volcanoes, hurricanes, human evolution, tagging giant blue-fin tuna, climate change, wars in Kosovo and Iraq and the artificial insemination of an African elephant.

For several years, Joyce was an editor and correspondent for NPR's Radio Expeditions, a documentary program on natural history and disappearing cultures produced in collaboration with the National Geographic Society that was heard frequently on Morning Edition.

Joyce came to NPR in 1993 as a part-time editor while finishing a book about tropical rainforests and, as he says, "I just fell in love with radio." For two years, Joyce worked on NPR's national desk and was responsible for NPR's Western coverage. But his interest in science and technology soon launched him into parallel work on NPR's science desk.

In addition, Joyce has written two non-fiction books on scientific topics for the popular market: Witnesses from the Grave: The Stories Bones Tell (with co-author Eric Stover); and Earthly Goods: Medicine-Hunting in the Rainforest.

Before coming to NPR, Joyce worked for ten years as the U.S. correspondent and editor for the British weekly magazine New Scientist.

Joyce's stories on forensic investigations into the massacres in Kosovo and Bosnia were part of NPR's war coverage that won a 1999 Overseas Press Club award. He was part of the Radio Expeditions reporting and editing team that won the 2001 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University journalism award and the 2001 Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Joyce won the 2001 American Association for the Advancement of Science excellence in journalism award.

The notion of "beauty" can mean many different things to artists. For the Brothers Quay — identical-twin filmmakers — it often means dimly lit black and white images of animated dolls, screws, cogs — any manner of inanimate object brought to life. They're so good at it that fellow filmmaker Terry Gilliam called the Quays' Street of Crocodiles one of the best animated films of all time.

The back rooms of museums are like your grandparents' attic, only the stuff is more exotic — things like fossilized jellyfish, dinosaur eggs, or mummified princes.

And if you look carefully, you'll find objects that once changed science but are now largely forgotten. You might call them Lost Treasures of Science. This is a story of one of those objects — a special bone that's part of a special skeleton.

A pair of fossils from a South African cave have scientists both excited and puzzled. Scientists say the fossils — an adult female and a juvenile — could be the long-sought transition between ape-like ancestors and the first humans.

The bones belong to creatures related to the famous Lucy fossil found in Ethiopia in the 1970s, but their owners lived more recently, just two million years ago.

The Tibetan Plateau is the world's highest place. It's four times the size of France and home to most of the world's highest mountains.

As you might expect, it's cold there. And it may be that the deep chill of the Tibetan Plateau played a role in the evolution of some of the world's most charismatic animals.

That's the belief of a scientist who discovered the skull of a woolly rhino on the Tibetan Plateau.

The year 2010 was a very bad one for Haiti. It started with an earthquake that killed over 300,000 people, mostly in the crowded capital of Port-au-Prince. After that, cholera originating in a U.N. camp broke out in a northern province and eventually spread to the city.

The light at the end of the tunnel for Libyans isn't just an end to the Moammar Gadhafi regime — it's also "light sweet crude."

Oil provides most of Libya's income. But the revolution there has strangled exports for months and starved the country of revenue and also temporarily bumped up world oil prices. So there's a lot of interest inside Libya and internationally in getting the country's oil wells up and running again.

The question is, when?

Drive through northern Pennsylvania and you'll see barns, cows, silos and drilling rigs perched on big, concrete pads.

Pennsylvania is at the center of a natural gas boom. New technology is pushing gas out of huge shale deposits underground. That's created jobs and wealth, but it may be damaging drinking water. That's because when you "frack," as hydraulic fracturing is called, you pump millions of gallons of fluids underground. That cracks the shale a mile deep and drives natural gas up to the surface — gas that otherwise could never be tapped.

As sagas go, it rivals the Star Wars epics: "Yucca Mountain: The Quest for a Nuclear Waste Dump" premiered in 1978, when the U.S. government added the Nevada site to its list of potential "permanent repositories." Since then, it's been a story of political intrigue, desert outposts, giant machines and doctored science.

Chosen in 1987 as the "winner" of the competition, the Yucca Mountain site was already half-built when President Barack Obama canceled the long-controversial project last year.

Now comes the sequel: Yucca Mountain Two.

The Arctic tundra has been relatively thunderstorm-free for 10,000 years. But conditions are changing in the far north, and in 2007 a lightning strike caused the biggest wildfire ever recorded on the North Slope of Alaska. The tundra is normally a carbon sink, but scientists report in the journal Nature that that single fire released more carbon into the atmosphere than the entire Arctic tundra absorbs every year.

America's nuclear reactors need new safeguards to ensure that the kind of accident that destroyed reactors in Japan last March doesn't happen here. That's the conclusion from a 90-day study of the accident undertaken by experts at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The Fukushima accident in Japan damaged or destroyed four reactors and spread radiation for miles around the plant and it shook confidence in nuclear power around the world. Shortly afterwards, a task force of engineers at the NRC got their marching orders: figure out how to keep this from happening in the U.S.

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