19 Illuminating Science Podcasts
This week I dig in to some of my favorite podcasts about science. Note that several of these shows last less than 10 minutes, allowing us to learn a little something while we brush our teeth.
Head to the archive for more podcast recommendations, and please share your own via the comments and Twitter!
: Chances are, you already love this award-winning show from Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich. Each episode investigates an idea, whether it’s how we perceive color (one of my favorites) or what it means to be considered “Patient Zero.” Podcasts don’t get much better than this.
Science Friday: This long-running radio show is still cranking out fun features related to science and technology. Recent episodes have taught me about bumblebees and octopuses; recently, the show even held a “Cephalopod Week.”
StarTalk Radio: Need a little more astronomy in your life? Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson does a good job of mixing it up here, welcoming listeners’ questions and guests ranging from Bill Nye to Christopher Nolan to former President Jimmy Carter.
Invisibilia: NPR’s podcast focuses on ideas, emotions, and other “invisible forces that control human behavior.” After one well-received season, it returns with new episodes soon.
: Similar to Invisibilia, this Boing Boing podcast specializes in the science of the mind. Recent episodes have explored the fear of rejection and public shaming; I listen when I can pay full attention.
The Infinite Monkey Cage: This BBC Radio show has everything a science enthusiast could want: unique topics (e.g. “What is the point of plants?”), charming hosts, and guests that include esteemed scientists, psychologists, and comedians like Stephen Fry and Eric Idle.
Science: Behind on science headlines? This podcast does an admirable job of curating interesting stories and explaining studies from Science and its sister sites in terms a nonscientist can understand.
Science … Sort Of: It’s hard not to like the hosts of this show: They’re funny, intelligent, and they love beer. The gang, which includes a physicist, a paleontologist, and an aerospace engineer, gathers a couple times a month to talk about things like evolution and astrophysics and, of course, beer.
Inquiring Minds: This podcast always seems to highlight topics I want to learn more about, like 3-D printing, climate change and, um, the science of booze.
Science Vs: “We pit fact against fad,” journalist Wendy Zukerman declares in this Australian show. I dug a recent episode that examined the science of happiness as well as one about the true effects of e-cigarettes.
Transistor: This show always teaches me something, particularly because it’s hosted by three people who know what they’re talking about: a biologist, an astrophysicist and a neuroscientist. Also worth noting: They all happen to be women.
Futuropolis: This brand-new podcast from Popular Science investigates what our future might hold, whether it’s robot-driving cars or fancy dining in space. Episodes are delivered in informative, well-edited chunks.
SCIENCE WITH A TWIST
: This long-running podcast is a primary destination for those curious about the paranormal and fringe science. Each week the hosts spotlight a “Forgotten Superhero of Science” and discuss provocative topics and news items.
Probably Science: If you like your science with a side of laughter, this one’s for you. Each week the hosts—all comedians—talk science and host a special guest, who might be another comedian (like Laraine Newman) or a scientist who doesn’t know what he or she is getting into.
Theoretically Speaking: Another newcomer, this show is off to a great start with short episodes focusing on “ridiculous hypotheticals.” It drew me in with the first installment, in which the hosts wonder what would happen to our recorded knowledge if all humans suddenly vanished from Earth.
Gastropod: I’ve mentioned this podcast before, but it’s worth repeating. Each episode tackles the science of food, like how artificial flavors work and how the sounds of foods affect our dining experiences.
10 MINUTES OR LESS
: This show is part of the HowStuffWorks network and might be my favorite because it offers so much info in two minutes. Want to know why paper money doesn’t fall apart in the washing machine? Curious about why humans have eyebrows? They’ll tell ya.
60-Second Science: This daily podcast from Scientific American masterfully covers the latest scientific breakthroughs. If you like what you hear, check out their other bite-sized shows, like 60-Second Mind, 60-Second Space, and 60-Second Earth.
Scienceology: Presented by Funny or Die News, these folks spoof everything I’ve listed above with quick fictional pieces about, say, an expert on the duck vagina or a scientist who is conducting experiments on God.