Joe Palca

Joe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR. Since joining NPR in 1992, Palca has covered a range of science topics — everything from biomedical research to astronomy. He is currently focused on the eponymous series, "Joe's Big Idea." Stories in the series explore the minds and motivations of scientists and inventors.

Palca began his journalism career in television in 1982, working as a health producer for the CBS affiliate in Washington, DC. In 1986, he left television for a seven-year stint as a print journalist, first as the Washington news editor for Nature, and then as a senior correspondent forScience Magazine.

In October 2009, Palca took a six-month leave from NPR to become science writer in residence at the Huntington Library and The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Palca has won numerous awards, including the National Academies Communications Award, the Science-in-Society Award of the National Association of Science Writers, the American Chemical Society James T. Grady-James H. Stack Award for Interpreting Chemistry for the Public, the American Association for the Advancement of Science Journalism Prize, and the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Writing.

With Flora Lichtman, Palca is the co-author of Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us (Wiley, 2011).

He comes to journalism from a science background, having received a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz where he worked on human sleep physiology.

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Space
3:45 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Rosetta Spacecraft Readies For Rendezvous With Comet

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 5:53 am

The Rosetta spacecraft hibernated for 31 months while its orbit took it too far away from the sun for its solar arrays to keep it operational. It's ready for a rendezvous with a comet Aug. 6.

Science
3:27 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

To Make A Spacecraft That Folds And Unfolds, Try Origami

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 7:40 pm

Scientists and engineers at NASA are using origami techniques to help solve a fundamental dilemma facing spacecraft designers: How do you take a big object, pack it into a small container for rocket launch, and then unpack it again once it arrives in space — making sure nothing breaks in the process.

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Space
5:30 am
Tue July 1, 2014

Why Theories On Black Holes Are Full Of Holes

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 1:24 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Scientists announced, earlier this week, they had discovered three supermassive black holes orbiting close together in a single galaxy. That indicates that black holes are more common than astronomers previously thought. And it's a good reason to revisit a report from Joe Palca on black holes. In this encore segment, he reports that the theories about these super powerful bodies are still, well, full of holes.

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Science
3:20 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

If They Want To Make Anything, Proteins Must Know How To Fold

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 9:46 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Events unfold. Plots unfold. And this summer, NPR science correspondent Joe Palca has been telling us how science unfolds. It's series we're creatively calling Unfolding Science.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME SONG)

BLOCK: Today, Joe tells us about large biological molecules called proteins that have to fold and unfold properly to keep us alive.

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Shots - Health News
3:44 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

A CRISPR Way To Fix Faulty Genes

The CRISPR enzyme (green and red) binds to a stretch of double-stranded DNA (purple and red), preparing to snip out the faulty part.
Illustration courtesy of Jennifer Doudna/UC Berkeley

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 6:47 am

Scientists from many areas of biology are flocking to a technique that allows them to work inside cells, making changes in specific genes far faster — and for far less money — than ever before.

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