Nell Greenfieldboyce

Nell Greenfieldboyce is a NPR science correspondent.

With reporting focused on general science, NASA, and the intersection between technology and society, Greenfieldboyce has been on the science desk's technology beat since she joined NPR in 2005.

In that time Greenfieldboyce has reported on topics including the narwhals in Greenland, the ending of the space shuttle program, and the reasons why independent truckers don't want electronic tracking in their cabs.

Much of Greenfieldboyce's reporting reflects an interest in discovering how applied science and technology connects with people and culture. She has worked on stories spanning issues such as pet cloning, gene therapy, ballistics, and federal regulation of new technology.

Prior to NPR, Greenfieldboyce spent a decade working in print, mostly magazines including U.S. News & World Report and New Scientist.

A graduate of Johns Hopkins, earning her Bachelor's of Arts degree in social sciences and a Master's of Arts degree in science writing, Greenfieldboyce taught science writing for four years at the university. She was honored for her talents with the Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award for Young Science Journalists.

Biologist Lou Burnett was recently in his car when his cell phone rang. It was a CNN reporter, asking about the fact that his research had been featured in a new report about wasteful government spending.

That was news to Burnett, who works at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. "I was pretty irritated," he recalls.

A giant and powerful digital camera is about to be shipped from a lab near Chicago to a telescope in Chile to study a mysterious part of the universe called dark energy.

Dark energy makes up most of our universe, but scientists currently know almost nothing about it except that it seems to be making the expansion of our universe speed up.

The polar bear researcher who was suspended from his government job last month has received a new letter from investigators that lays out actions he took that are described as being "highly inappropriate" under the rules that apply to managing federal contracts.

According to the letter, wildlife biologist Charles Monnett told investigators that he assisted a scientist in preparing that scientist's proposal for a government contract. Monnett then served as chair of a committee that reviewed that proposal.

A wildlife biologist is continuing to face questions about an influential paper he wrote on apparently drowned polar bears, with government investigators reportedly asking whether he improperly steered a research contract to another scientist as a reward for reviewing that paper.

"They seem to be suggesting that there is some sort of conspiracy that involves global warming and back scratching that appears to be frankly just nuts," says Jeff Ruch, a lawyer with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

The early Earth had two moons instead of just one — our familiar moon, as well as a smaller companion moon that also rose and set in the sky for tens of millions of years.

That's according to a new theory that says this smaller moon eventually went careening into our moon and is still there, in the form of mountains on its far side.

Scientists have long puzzled over those mountains, and the fact that the two sides of our moon are very different. The near side has flat lowlands, while the far side is high and mountainous.

The final space shuttle mission means that the 30-year-old shuttle program is about to enter the history books alongside the famous Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs.

And as the end of the shuttle era looms, NASA leaders say they're about to build a new vehicle, one that will let astronauts go exploring deep into space. But some experts doubt that plan will ever get off the ground.

To understand the big question mark hanging over NASA's future, it helps to first turn the clock back to 2004 — the year after the space shuttle Columbia disaster.

Once space shuttle Atlantis touches down on Earth later this week, workers will start the process of transforming the spaceship into a museum piece.

To see how that mothballing process will unfold, I recently went on a rare tour of Discovery, one of NASA's other shuttles.

Discovery was set up with its landing gear down in a secure hangar at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where technicians normally do work on the shuttles after each flight.

As space shuttle Atlantis orbits the Earth on NASA's last shuttle mission, it's worth remembering that key parts of this high-tech spaceship were handmade by people back here on Earth.

Five years ago, NPR profiled a few of the workers who make pieces of NASA's shuttles, using everyday tools like sewing needles and X-ACTO knives. With the shuttle program ending, NPR revisited those people to see how their lives are changing now that the shuttles will no longer need them.

If you opened up a copy of the magazine Popular Science back in 1974, you'd see an artist's conception of a blastoff for the new spaceship that NASA was building. The headline: "Reusable Space Shuttle ... Our Biggest Bargain In Out-Of-This-World Research." The era of cheap, routine spaceflight was about to begin.

The successor to the Hubble Space Telescope is facing cost overruns and years of delay before it launches, but that hasn't dampened the enthusiasm of scientists who are meeting in Baltimore this week to talk about the amazing research they want to do with the James Webb Space Telescope.