Thursday, March 4, 2010

Podcast Blast

Podcasts. You can count on them. They come through in the clutch. Here are some of my favorite sciencey ones. I've linked to a few of these in the past, but sometimes it's nice to compile them all in one place. Though it's definitely altered my waistline, working in an office has offered me the chance to listen to good tunes and podcasts all day, as opposed to the situation I was in as a delivery driver: trying to find something decent in between the several stations simulcasting el Rushbo.

So then, here are my top ten science podcasts (in no particular order).

Skeptics Guide to the Universe: Far and away, the best podcast. Funny, informative, and with a deep archive so if I get a hankering for it, I can indulge in a solid eight hour block of it. They cover dinosaur news often, too.

Meet The Scientist: One of the finest science writers working today, Carl Zimmer, hosts this long form interview show which lives up to the promise of its title. Focuses on Zimmer's specialty, the endlessly fascinating world of microbes. Occasionally, it takes super long to download.

Material World: The BBC delivers this weekly review of news. Good, solid reporting, and presenter Quentin Cooper is sharp as a tack and handy with the bon mots. The BBC only offers their programs as downloads for a week; after that, they're available in their streaming player. It's more convenient for me to download individual episodes (my company poo-poos streaming media), so this may only be relevant to me.

In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg: An hour of conversation about history. Every other episode seems to cover a topic in science history, which is a precious rarity in broadcasting. Bragg is a great interviewer, and does a fair job wrangling the academics who sit at his virtual round table. His recent series about the history of the Royal Society was a treat. A BBC podcast as well, so keep your eyes peeled for updates!

Dr. Kiki's Science Hour: I mentioned this one about a month ago, for an episode with Dr. Mark Goodwin. I like Dr. Kiki, I really do. She's got a few annoying quirks, though. In her last interview, she spent a fair amount of time looking at and describing pictures sent to her by the guest. That's a classic radio no-no. She also needs to pre-record her audible.com promos, rather than stumbling through them. I'm sure these minor quibbles will be ironed out eventually. In all, an entertaining hour of science talk, with good production values.

Natural Selections: Bite sized morsels of nature from the Adirondacks, dealing with the local environment and the world beyond.

Best of Natural History Radio: Another BBC product, and one of the most unique. Instead of sitting in a studio, the program usually involves one of a revolving cast of presenters accompanying a naturalist out in the field. One of my favorite episodes involved a search for the rare red squirrel, which ended in failure.

Curiosity Aroused: A brand new podcast by the folks at Skepchick.org. Apparently, they pitched a pilot to NPR but it wasn't picked up. Listening to their first two episodes, I'm kind of finding that decision ridiculous. Absolutely pro, good sound quality, solid reporting, and hosted by the ever-charming Rebecca Watson. A++++ WOULD LISTEN AGAIN!

Science and the City: Produced the New York Academy of Sciences. Mostly interviews, with the occasional lecture thrown in, which is fine except for when the audience gets to see a visual aid that you can't.

Actually Speaking: Another new podcast, and a bit different from the rest. It's not about science, but rather is about being into science and critical thinking and dealing with people who aren't. Or to put it more succinctly, how to be a skeptic and keep your friends.

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