The Blogsphere is alive to the sound of PODCASTS

Dec 26 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Sci has noticed that a lot of scientists tend to listen to a lot of music or podcasts. Much as I'm sure we all KNOW that science is all glamor and cocaine and hookers and wild nights of crazy exciting science...yeah, let's not lie. A lot of science is tedious, and a truly astonishing amount of it involves slicing various items into extraordinarily thin sections. Sci would have much more fun if we were allowed to blend things instead.

Like this!

But sadly, Sci spends way more time slicing than blending.

And during the slicing, she listens to a lot of podcasts. And so every year I like to throw the ones I'm listening to out into the aether, and take recommendations for new ones, in the hope of turning up something new and interesting.

So here are Sci's recommendations:

1) In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg: Always one of my favorite podcasts! Melvyn Bragg has the best job EVER. Get some smart people in a room, set them on a topic, and let them go (I'm sure it's a lot more complicated than that). Always something new and interesting you never knew before. And I wish I could send Melvyn Bragg fan mail, except I know it would read something like "Dear Mr. Bragg, OMG YOU ARE SO AWESOME. YOU HAVE THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD. HOW DO I BECOME YOUR APPRENTICE?!?!?! PLEASE PLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE...<3, Sci". Yeah, that would be embarrassing.

2) The History of Rome: I love this one, though Mr. S thinks it's dry. It starts way back in the mists of time, and goes through the decline and fall. It's really well researched and really well done, and Mike's sly little sense of humor surprises a laugh out of Sci more often than not.

3) Napoleon 101: This one is INTENSE. If you go from beginning to end, you will cover ever bit of Napoleon's life, covered by two amazing experts (well, one guy claims he's not an expert. I think he lies). If you're interested, it's very long, but VERY interesting.

4) Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean: This one Sci got as a companion to #10 down there, and it's been ok. It's basically a recording of this guy's class on the subject, and while that's fine, it's very obviously intended for undergrads. Good bits, though.

5) Scientific American Podcast: Science Talk: I love Steve Mirsky!

6) Nature Podcast: The podcast from...you guessed it...Nature. Generally good stuff, though I find they fixate on physics and astronomy more than Sci would like. Very educational though.

7) Neuropod: The neuroscience podcast from Nature!

8) Dan Carlin's Hardcore History: This is one of Mr. S's favorites. Dan Carlin talks about great moments in history, speculating about them. Sometimes he goes more than a little off the rails, but his series on the Osfront is FANTASTIC. It's those fantastic ones that keep you coming back. Even when he tries to imply that every member of the human population from beginning to 1900 had PTSD.

9) Coffee Break French: Sci used to speak French, and sometimes she tries to brush up. This podcast is adorable and full of great Scottish accents. Also, it's focused on the French you would need to get around.

10) The Bible: Yes. You can get the bible on podcast. Which Sci did so she could get it "read" this year. The reader is ok, the material is obviously exactly what you think it is. I would lodge a complaint that the ends of the sections are sometimes cut off, and also that the music clips that are used are exactly the same. Through the whole Bible. I was hoping it would at least change up in the New Testament.

And that's been basically it for this year. Does anyone have other podcasts they could recommend? Sci's always looking for new stuff!

8 responses so far

  • rick says:

    Love the Skeptic's Guide to the Universe, http://www.theskepticsguide.org/

  • Craig says:

    Craig's brainslicing/mounting greatest hits:

    Are we Alone: the SETI Institute's science & scepticism podcast. Although it takes a particular interest in ETI-related matters, the topics covered are much wider than that. Entertainingly presented, too.

    The Brain Science Podcast: hosted by Ginger Campbell - occasionally a touch dry, but covers a wide range of neuro material in much greater depth than most. Worth digging through the archives.

    Quirks & Quarks: Canada's #1 science show.

    The Pseudo Scientists: amusingly enthusiastic irregular podcast on scepticism & atheism from the Young Australian Sceptics.

    Intelligence Squared U.S.: Oxford-style debating on a range of chewy topics. Some are better than others, but even the weaker ones are pretty good.

    The Guardian's Science Weekly: absolutely brilliant; good and topical subject matter, very well presented. Alok Jha rocks.

    The following are all from ABC (as in the Australian equivalent of the BBC) Radio National:

    The Health Report: hosted by Norman Swan. Completely woo-free quality journalism on everything medical.

    In Conversation: hosted by Robyn Williams, consisting of ~15 min interviews with scientists on a wide range of topics. Stopped production in 2009, but has many years worth of archives available online.

    The Science Show: Robyn William's main gig, the oldest and best weekly science broadcast from Australia.

    Ockham's Razor: short (~15 minutes) scripted talks by a wide variety of scientists, again with a massive archive.

  • Bruce says:

    Since you like History of Rome (and it's one of my favorites, too), check out 12 Byzantine Rulers by Lars Brownworth - this is the series that inspired Mike Duncan to start on Rome. Brownworth is now deep into his new podcast, Norman Centuries, which takes us from the Normans' Viking roots through their exploits in France, England and Itlay - really good stuff.

    Some of my other favorites include RadioLab, which is almost always fantastically interesting no matter what topic they choose; New York City History by the Bowery Boys, which is exactly what it says it is - but highly entertaining; and Philosophy Bites, which offers short, expert-driven pieces on a wide range of topics.

    • scicurious says:

      I actually listened to all of the Byzantine Rulers Podcasts, they are wonderful! And I also recently started Norman Centuries, but didn't put them on here. Great stuff.

  • theshortearedowl says:

    Neat. I will attempt to put these on through the lab computer, to supplement my Pandora habit.

    My branch of science mostly involves putting very tiny amounts of colourless liquids together with very tiny amounts of other colourless liquids, putting the whole thing in a very expensive machine and seeing what sort of coloured lines it magically spits out. Very thin slices would make a change.

  • articulett says:

    I like radiolab: http://www.radiolab.org/

    All in the Mind: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/allinthemind/

    The brain science podcast: http://www.brainsciencepodcast.com/

    The Naked Scientists: http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/podcasts/

    and the irreverent, Irreligiosophy (former Mormons goofing on religion): http://www.irreligiosophy.com/

  • Craig says:

    Sci: I posted a mildly lengthy list of podcasts yesterday, complete with links to the sources, but it has yet to appear in the comments. Is it hanging in moderation due to link-spam filtering, or do I need to re-write it?

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