Podcasts are the books-on-tape of our generation. Whether you are sitting on the subway, driving across the country, or just enjoying a lazy day on your porch, listening to a good podcast can help the hours melt away. These five podcasts will do much more than just help you kill time, they’ll give you a top-tier taste of science education to boot. Tune in and start learning about the weird and wonderful world of science!
For people that prefer their science talk with a British accent, there’s BBC’s pop-science program The Infinite Monkey Cage. This podcast features physicist Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince cracking wise and waxing philosophical with a panel of guests, from comedians like Stephen Fry to the aforementioned Neil deGrasse Tyson. Since the program's birth in 2009, the show has deconstructed general topics like the uniqueness of human life, parallel universes, and the practical difficulties of deep space travel in digestible half-hour blocks in front of a live audience.
One of the most universally beloved radio shows around, WNYC’s Radiolab is a heady exploration of science and storytelling curated by broadcasting vets Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich. The sleekly produced three-act episodes are like This American Life’s eccentric kid brother, taking a simple theme like “Words” and “Sleep,” and poking at them from every direction. The “Escape” episode, for instance, features a story on a famously successful prison breaker, a contemplation of the edges of the universe, and a story on a rogue underground group of phone hackers.
Considering the peripherally brief broadcast treatment science, technology, and the environment get in the news cycle, weekly science probably deserves its very own in-depth news program. Preferably something weekly that takes place on the highbrow platform of public radio. Luckily, such a program exists in PRI’s Science Friday, which is, of course, also consumable in podcast form. For two hours, science journalist Ira Flatow combs through the important science news of the week, takes calls, and converses with prominent minds on everything that fits under the “science” embrella.
Interplanetary force of nature Neil deGrasse Tyson covers general astronomy topics, news, sci-fi, and the big existential questions on StarTalk, a radio show and podcast he’s hosted since 2009. Guests range from heavyweight science intellectuals to curious celebrity standbys like the GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan and Bill Maher, making the show equally accessible to the science-minded and science-illiterate alike in typical deGrasse Tyson-fashion.
The most popular podcast from How Stuff Works’ Atlanta laboratory, Stuff You Should Know has a cultish following of fans into learning the basics on general curiosities and offbeat topics. Affable hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant skim the surface (and occasionally beyond) on topics ranging from Play-Doh to the placebo effect, to grass, with a lighthearted, off-the-cuff approach. It’s the perfect podcast for anyone looking to have a Jeopardy-level of knowledge on pretty much everything.