SciComm

Spectacular Science Media: Podcasts to expand your knowledge in 2020

I love listening to podcasts: they are an easy way to brighten up an early commute or to liven up the long put off the task of cleaning. Not only that, but they also supply you with endless conversation starters and random facts to pleasantly (?) surprise friends and colleagues with as you go about the day, or discuss at dinner. 

Here are a few of my favourites you should look out for in 2020!

Ologies 

Ologies Podcast Art: Cream background, with scientific drawings (such as a heart, octopus, human skull, triceratops skull, molecules)

This podcast is for people who are curious about anything and everything! Host Alie Ward explores a different ‘ology’ (any area of science that ends in an ology- even if it isn’t typically an ology, Alie will find a way to twist its usual name into Cabinology, or Distasterology, or Grateful-ology!) each week, by interviewing a real-life scientist who is part of that field. If looking through, and you can’t see many episodes that interest you, just start listening to a random one, and you will come away an hour later inspired by a whole new field of research that you didn’t know existed! This podcast has definitely opened my eyes to all the different scientific niches, and career paths, but it has also made me want to do every career! It was one of the first podcasts I listened to, and it has had me hooked ever since. What ology would you want to listen to? Here are a few of my favourites to get you started, or head to her website to scroll through the episode list!

  • Episode 1: Volcanology
  • Episodes 12 & 13: Cosmology
  • Episode 23: Gizmology
  • Episode 28: Evolutionary Biology
  • Episode 36: Phonology (Linguistics)
  • Episodes 40 & 41: Areology (Mars)
  • Episode 44: Epidemiology (See This Podcast Will Kill You below!)
  • Episode 50: Oceanology
  • Episode 51: Conservation Technology
  • Episode 56: Surgical Oncology (Oh boy this made me cry!)
  • Episodes 57 & 58: Somnology (this made me feel very guilty about my lack of sleep!)
  • Episode 65: Selenology (The moon)
  • Episode 68: Entomophagy Anthropology (eating insects to reduce ecological impact)
  • Episode 79: Astrobiology (yup- aliens!)
  • Episode 87: Mycology (mushrooms!)
  • Episode 101: Disasterology
  • Episodes 104 & 105: Potterology (Stir up childhood memories with Harry Potter chemistry)
  • Episodes 111 & 112: Chiropterology (Bats)
  • Episode 115: Quantum Ontology
  • Most Recent: Futurology (with Rose Eveleth of Flash Forward)

That list was longer than I expected! Make sure to check it out!

Daniel and Jorge Explain the Universe

Explain the Universe podcast art. Purple scientific drawings on graph paper

This podcast has the seal of approval from both me and my dad! It explores really deep topics in space and particle physics (mainly) in an easy to understand way. What I think makes this podcast special is that it is hosted by a renowned physicist and a science cartoonist, so it is always entertaining and well explained! One possible downside is that sometimes the question in the title isn’t directly answered by the end of the episode, but sometimes that’s because there isn’t a specific or known answer yet. Although slightly annoying when this happens, the tangents are always interesting and the explanations clear! They also have a book called “We Have No Idea”, which I really recommend!

Some episodes to start you off:

  • Is the universe left-handed?
  • Can you destroy a Black Hole?
  • What do Quarks taste like?
  • What is a Dyson Sphere?
  • What is Quantum Spin?
  • What was Oumuamua?

I also really enjoy the listener questions! 

This Podcast Will Kill You

TPWKY podcast art: drawing of a female with a syringe against a blue background

I binge-listened this entire series when I was in London for the week a couple of years ago (Hello Mission Discovery people!), and I’ve got to say, although the podcast was fantastic, I was rather nervous I would catch a new killer flu virus… or tuberculosis… or the plague…

Although it can be quite scary, it is actually really informative, and I love the history and biology parts. They have also done crossover episodes, where they talk about plant poisons with the host of In Defense of Plants, which are really interesting.

Here are a few of the best episodes from the Erins’:

  • Ricin: The Bad Seed
  • Toxoplasmosis: Calling all Cats
  • Cystic Fibrosis: Complete Somatic Rebellion
  • Encephalitis Lethargica: Sleep Perchance to Dream
  • Vaccines 1 & 2
  • Zika: Rumours and Rumours
  • Prions: Apocolypse Cow
  • Influenza Will Kill You

Beyond Today

Matthew Price and Tina Daheley delve into one big story, every weekday. Each episode tends to be short, bite-sized information. Sometimes the topic is directly from the headlines, other times it is something that didn’t hit the front page, but should have. 

Beyond Today podcast art: the name out of newspaper letters on a pink background

Flash Forward

Recently interviewed on Ologies, Rose Eveleth investigates new technologies that could result in possible, and not so possible, futures. Normally, the episodes begin with a step into the future timeline, before returning to the present to talk to experts about the viability of the scenario! Recently, she has split the podcast into seasons, with each season exploring a broad topic: My favourite was the Earth season, which had episodes that investigated topics such as Aquaculture, and what would happen if the earth’s magnetic poles switched! 

Flash forward art: name below the fast forward symbol, encircled by a white ring, against a nebula background

Earth Unscrewed

This inspiring podcast looks at all the amazing, cutting-edge technologies that could prevent the earth from becoming completely destroyed by climate changes: it was us that messed the climate us, so it’s us who need to try to fix it. Here are some episodes to get you started:

  • Driving Change- Electric Cars
  • Can we fix Fashion?
  • Making a Splash
  • Change is in the Air
Earth Unscrewed art: name, with distorted forest background

The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry

Drs Hannah Fry and Adam Rutherford investigate everyday mysteries sent in by listeners, such as…

  • Jurrasic Squawk (what did dinosaurs sound like?)
  • The Lunar Land (Where did the moon come from, what would happen if we had two?)
  • A Frightful Scare (Why we get scared, and why we enjoy it)
  • The Stressful Scone (accents: scone like gone, or scone like loan?)
  • The Mesmerist (Hypnotism- they try it out!)
Curious Cases podcast art: name superimposed over a photo of the hosts wearing mustaches in front of a blackbird

Sapiens

I’ve only listened to the first episode of this podcast, but it is really good so far! The first episode takes a look at what your DNA means, and the fine line between identity and heredity. I really enjoyed it and I look forward to listening to the rest, which promise to uncover what makes us human.

sapiens podcast art: a drawing of the earth with science-y doodles.

Science(ish)

This is another podcast I have only recently discovered, but I have read the book by the same name, and it is very entertaining: delving into the science behind the fiction, in popular movies, books and tv shows. They also do episodes about current science events like LIGO (gravitational waves). 

science(ish) podcast art

Have you listened to any of these? Did your favourite make the list? Let me know your recommendations in the comments! 

Stay Curious!

Image of all 9 podcast arts and the title
and the words: what are your favourite podcasts?
have you listened to any of these?
let me know your thought below!

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