Bite-sized science knowledge for your hungry ears.
Pop in those buds or strap on your cans and join us as we count down our picks for the Top 16 Science Podcasts of 2018.
If you love learning science while your eyes are doing something that isn’t reading, we have podcasts that your ears will adore. So, in no particular order, read on!
Do you love picking up strange titbits of info that you can wittily regurgitate during family get-togethers? Great! We have you covered. Each week, three editors dish out a range of the most bizarre snippets of science facts you’re ever likely to hear. Here’s just one example of a typical segment: The origins of the cosmos, nuns and female orgasms. Yes. In. One. Segment. We know you’ll love it!
#2. The Habitat
Did you know that a Hawaiian mountain actually hosts a year-long NASA experiment where six volunteers pretend they are on Mars? These would-be Martians keep video diaries chronicling their experiences and hint at what challenges future astronauts who venture to the red planet may actually face. The Habitat is masterfully produced by Lynn Levy and her team who offer “the true story of a fake planet” in the most compelling way imaginable.
Top episodes: We suggest just marathoning this short series. In fact, you’ll have a hard time not marathoning it!
With Season 2 coming up this August, what better time to discover the untold backstories of science? Learn what the Chinese government wants to erase from the internet by studying a cache of censored Chinese social media and discover the true story of two mathematicians who want to prove that we’re all just six handshakes away from everyone else on planet earth!
ELT specializes in answering those small questions in life that seem insignificant but are actually mind-blowing. The incredibly talented Flora Lichtman and her team tackle everything from why popcorn pops to why flamingos are the most badass members of the animal kingdom. New episodes drop on Monday and you can call or leave an audio message with any niggling questions you want the team to elucidate.
#5. Nature Podcast
If news from nature is more your thing, Nature Podcast is for all you animal lovers who need a weekly dose of sensible, well-researched news. Shamini Bundell, Adam Levy and Benjamin Thompson tackle everything from AI neuroscience to synchronized shrimp is a fascinating and entirely engrossing way.
This medical history podcast, hosted by Dr. McElroy, has been running since 2013. It covers everything from a historical look at fluoride to a gross and funning look at “The Man Who Ate Everything”. Perfect for your next car trip or journey!
#7. Brains On!
Kids ask the best questions so stop pretending you don’t want to listen to scientists explain how farts work and jump into this fun and accessible podcast! Real kids ask real scientists everything from how the internet works to why slime is, well, err … slimy. Great to listen to with or without kids around.
Proving that scientist’s personal lives are almost as fascinating as their work, this podcasts features real scientist discuss what happened both inside and outside their labs. Besides hearing about experiments and lab-based anecdotes you can also hear touching personal stories and moving experiences. If you love science and you love stories, this is the podcast for you!
#9. Science Vs
Do you often find yourself wishing you could debunk nonsense quasi-scientific theories but don’t have the knowledge to draw on? This is the show missing from your life! Science Vs puts a range of ideas from gun control to fracking to the test. So, the next time your sister start babbling about how vaccines lead to autism, you’ll be able to stop her in her tracks.
You can’t fail to be fascinated by the history and science behind periods after listening to just one of these podcasts. Geek out on everything from how the human body makes eggs to the ins and outs of pelvic prolapse. Every episode features a guest scientist, historian or other health professional.
Have you heard of people who can’t feel fear? Or blind people who believe they can see? Invisibilia delves into the hidden forces at play within human behavior. If you love psychology, this podcast is a must-listen.
Top episodes: Fearless, The Secret History of Thoughts and How to Become Batman.
Have you ever wanted to intertwine mealtime conversation with witty food facts about the science of food? Gastropod will raise your food knowledge game to beast mode and leave you feeling like the smartest person at any dinner table.
#13. Science Friday
If keeping up with the latest scientific advancements and developments is important to you – and if you’ve read this far, we can safely assume it is! – you need this podcast. Flawlessly produced by the immensely talented Christie Taylor and Christopher Intagliata, Science Friday tackles everything from how to bring healthcare records into the modern age to how to prevent wildlife traffic accidents. This is the perfect general science podcast for anyone who wants to keep their finger on the pulse of change.
Despite being around since 2002, Radiolab stories are always pertinent and on point. As the format and banter are constantly being refreshed, Radiolab episodes are some of the best science podcasts around, despite the show being pretty much a centenarian in podcast years. It does tackle non-science subjects on occasion so your curiosity levels are sure to remain jacked!
Based on the true story of the first all-women expedition to the North Pole in 1997, in 30 For 30, Rose Eveleth takes us “On the Ice” and presents an unforgettable overview of this historic expedition. Utterly engrossing and unmissable.
#16. Flash Forward
Our final pick also comes from Rose Eveleth who, each episode, selects a fictional future and tasks experts with explaining how it might work. The resulting mixture of science and science fiction is transfixing and impeccably produced. If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if drugs were legalized or if the internet was destroyed, this show is for you!
As the old saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover. The podcast that sounds least interesting in writing could be the one that inexplicably draws you in and keeps you coming back for more. So cast aside your preconceptions and hopefully, these podcasts will find a special place in your heart and mind, just as they have mine.