Podcasts have boomed in the last few years, and with over 1 million podcasts out there, how do you know which to choose? Here I will highlight some of my favourite science podcasts for your listening pleasure.
Not everyone learns well by just reading, and that’s why I include diagrams and sketches in my articles to keep visual learners (like myself) happy too. Whilst many people (myself included) are a mixture of learning types, it is estimated that 30% of the population are auditory learners (i.e. learn best through hearing information). Since 2018 the number of podcasts has doubled from just over 550,000 podcasts (available through Apple) in June 2018, to over 1 million by the end of Apr 2020. Depending on your mood or aims, there really is a podcast for everything. Since starting my PhD (2017), I have found myself listening to more podcasts as a break from all the reading that comes with research. During lockdown I have been doing a LOT of thesis, blog and article writing, so my brain is a bit burnt out with the written word. I wanted to highlight just 5 of my favourite science podcasts for you (especially those auditory learners out there), let me know what you think:
1. Science(ish) (Recommended episode: Dark Waters)
Rick Edwards (journalist, presenter and screenwriter) and Dr. Michael Brooks (Editor of the New Scientist magazine), delve into the science behind popular culture, talking to experts to get closer to the answers. Examples of their episodes include Star Wars where they ask is the force a real thing and did Luke Skywalker get his powers from a parasite? Whilst the Deadpool episode investigates whether we could regrow limbs and the science of regenerative medicine.
(Image from https://audioboom.com/channel/scienceish)
2. Infinite Monkey Cage (Recommended episode: When the Monkeys met the Chimps)
Professor Brian Cox and Robin Ince (comedian, actor and writer) host this BBC Radio 4 production. Don’t let “Radio 4” put younger readers off. This programme is witty and informative, with a different panel of experts and (usually) comedians for each episode. They cover a plethora of subjects from an astronaut’s guide to isolation, dream science, and how the universe may end…to name but a few cheery topics.
3. The Naked Scientists (Recommended episode: Life in the New Normal)
I’m still not 100% sure why they’re called “The Naked Scientists” (I don’t think they record in the nude…), but they create a set of different podcasts including the main one, The Naked Scientists which runs weekly, as well as Naked Genetics, Naked Neuroscience, and Naked Gaming, to name a few. This was the first science podcast I listened to and I still love it. It is led by a group at Cambridge University, overseen by Chris Smith (who has been on the news a lot since the pandemic). They cover current science news and thus, have covered a lot covid-19 in recent months.
(Image from https://www.thenakedscientists.com/)
4. Small Screen Science (Recommended episode: Strictly Science)
Small Screen Science is a brand new podcast run by Karen (an educational consultant) and Emma (a podcaster and environmental comms specialist) who speak with experts to delve into the science behind the UK’s favourite TV shows. They’ve covered shows such as Silent Witness, the Great British Bake Off, Dracula and Strictly Come Dancing so far, with a second series recording soon. Normally I like a couple of series to try first but I’ve instantly fallen for this podcast, it’s really informative, easy listening.
5. This Podcast will Kill You (Recommended episode: Shades of Syphilis)
Lastly we have our only international entry (for now), “This Podcast will Kill You”, which I discovered last winter on my daily commute (which seems an eternity ago now). Dr Erin Welsh and Dr Erin Allmann Updyke are disease ecologists and epidemiologists (very apt for pandemic times…) who not only impart a lot of knowledge about infectious diseases, but also make amazing “quarantinis” and “placeboritas“. The Erins have covered rabies, the plague, yellow fever, gonorrhea as well as a recent series all about coronavirus. You’re in for a lot of fun!
With hundreds of episodes between them, you’ve got plenty to explore and learn. Let me know your favourites or if you have any recommendations for me to try!