Science podcasts are having a bit of a renaissance in 2021. Maybe because there’s a huge backlash against the anti-science forces in our society, or perhaps its because there’s a huge audience thirsting for more knowledge of the world around them. Nevertheless, there’s no shortage of incredibly high-quality science podcasts you should discover. Here is a curated selection of some of the best science podcasts you should add to your regular listening schedule.
While there are plenty of ongoing efforts to deal with the crisis of Climate Change at a macro level, there’s also the creeping fact that the damage has already been done. And thus, part of the strategy to survive and continue to thrive as a species must be the idea that we have to mitigate the worst effects of climate induced damage. In other words, we have to learn how to adapt.
That’s what this great podcast is all about. Host Doug Parsons speaks with scientists, activists, journalists and policymakers to discuss the tough realities of how America can adapt to the ravages of climate change. What adaptations will have to be made to avoid the worst ravages of climate change? What sacrifices will have to occur? What infrastructure will the country have to build or abandon? A fascinating show to be sure.
There aren’t a lot of episodes in this relatively new podcast yet, but what I like about it is that it’s different than other shows I’ve listened to about the topic of Artificial Intelligence. Instead of taking a speculative approach about what may come in the near and long-term future, A.I. Nation explores how artificial intelligence is already changing our society. A truly outstanding podcast you should listen to if you have any interest in technology or A.I. systems.
Strange By Nature
Given the cover art of this show, you can probably guess what this podcast is all about. But it’s not just about climate change. It’s about the crazy-making policies that governments and societies have adopted around the world, that are frankly, roasting the earth and making everyone a bit dumber along the way. But don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom, this show happens to also be quite funny.
The Reality Check
This podcast is a long-running Canadian show that somehow flown under my radar for two years. It’s a show dedicated to tackling a wide range of controversies and curiosities by employing the scientific method and actual critical thinking. What a novelty in today’s world filled with misinformation and willful ignorance! A pretty great show I think you should check out.
The Cozy Robot Show
This is one of the more unique takes I’ve come across as far as podcasts that are focused on science. The show is hosted by Marvel’s Science Advisor (WandaVision, Loki, Dr. Strange 2, etc), Mike McHargue, and it explores a plethora of science-related topics using empathy and skepticism as the angle. There is a large focus on science and explaining hard topics like black holes, gravity waves, and psychedelics, as well as emotions and how we as people can use scientific knowledge to connect more with others using empathy.
A pretty fantastic show that I think would connect with a lot of people that want a science show that is a little more round-edged than your typical sharp-elbowed science podcasts. Do check it out.
We’ve seen what incredible things science and medicine can accomplish. Humanity came up with a vaccine that is 94% effective against a novel Coronovirus in under a year. An astounding feat. Science is the way, and if you believe in it as much as I do, you’ll enjoy this podcast that brings you the best stories from the world of science each week. Exciting research, in-depth analysis, and fantastic interviews and guests.
Hosted by the awesome author Steven Johnson, this show features the stories of various scientists, engineers, and ordinary people responsible for some of the greatest technological innovations of the past century. High production value, a bit of history and plenty of info about how the miracles of modern innovation that we now often take for granted, came to be.
On a Mission
Big Picture Science
The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe
Covering a broad range of science topics, from the tiniest microbes to the far reaches of space, this entertaining and educational podcast deals with topics like physics, chemistry, earth science, health, nature, math, technology, food, energy, ethics and policy, the brain, and more. Some weeks feature a high profile guest while others don’t. In any case, it’s a good show you should download into your brain.
Recommended to me by one of my closest friends (thanks Andrew!), this far-reaching podcast from the Santa Fe Institute brings together scientists, mathematicians, artists and philosophers in an attempt to discuss the mysteries of the Universe through the lens of research, discovery, and science. If you’re a curious bug like me, you’ll like this show.
All in the Mind
This weekly podcast from the land of Koala bears and Kangaroos is a regular look into the universe of the mind. Behaviour, the brain, consciousness, artificial intelligence, psychology, addiction, are all topics that are explored with a deft and intelligent approach by host Lynne Malcolm. Highly recommend to anyone interested in this area of science.
Website | Listen on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Castbox| PodChaser | Overcast | Not sure where to start? Start with this episode: Why you talk the way you do, and what it says about you
Important, Not Important
My brain often feels like the one depicted in the artwork for this podcast. Squished with facts. But which ones are the important ones to remember? And which ones can make a difference to our lives and the lives of others. That’s in part what this podcast tackles. With conversations designed to get you thinking about how to as they pleasantly put it… bend the motherfucking arc of the universe towards a radically more livable planet for you, me and everybody else.
Outside / In
While we still have a natural world to explore, this terrific podcast aims to explore the various wonders of the natural world as well as our relationship with nature, unintended consequences of preservation, invasive species and more. A really great listen for nature lovers and anyone interested in the natural world.
Science Rules! with Bill Nye
Everyone knows who Bill Nye is. He’s your friendly neighborhood science guy, eager and willing to teach a new generation of science-curious ladies and gentlemen. In this podcast, Bill takes a phone call from the audience and attempts to answer some practical questions about science and how it has an impact on your daily life. Vitamins, GMOs, Skin Color, Psychopaths, Climate Change, Loose Nukes, and more fun topics are covered!
The End of the World
This limited series podcast is a great summary of all of the ways that the “world could end”. Will humanity survive all of our potential foibles? As the tagline suggests: We’re all going to die someday. Let’s hope it’s not on the same day. Josh Clark of Stuff You Should Know fame breaks down some of the most likely ways catastrophe may befall us. But don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom, there are hints of optimism and suggestions on how collectively as a society we may be able to avoid extinction.
Sweating the Small Stuff
I’ve been twisting myself into a linguistic pretzel over the last few minutes trying to describe this podcast. It’s like if you threw in one part movie critique, one part science deconstruction, and one part clever and genuinely funny banter, and you stirred them together to form a perfectly snackable and enjoyable podcast that explores the science, stories, and misconceptions behind some of your favorite pop culture moments.
This Podcast Will Kill You
It obviously won’t. But the thing they discuss on an episode-by-episode basis surely might. This absolutely great podcast is hosted by ecologists and epidemiologists Erin Welsh and Erin Allman Updyke in which they explore the world of infectious diseases, their history, their biology and finally how much you should be crapping your pants about each potential illness.
The Thinking Atheist
As host of one of the most popular atheist communities on the web, Seth Andrews brings forth a fascinating podcast that not only explores modern topics around religion or lack-thereof but also explores many, what I would call “atheist-adjacent” topics as well. An extremely well-produced show that is both thought-provoking and intended to be welcoming and inclusionary.
The Infinite Monkey Cage
With a healthy dose of witty Britishisms and a look at various science topics such as Big Data, the Human Immune System, a discussion of what particles are left to be discovered, this science show from the BBC will take you on a journey of scientific discussion and give you plenty to think about.
Overheard at National Geographic
Each week the editors at National Geographic delve into a new topic surrounding interesting stories from around the natural world as a result of what they overheard at National Geographic’s headquarters. An amazing podcast for anyone interested in nature and the natural world.
The Origins Podcast
Well known theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Lawrence M. Krauss just recently started this podcast and has already racked up an impressive roster of interview guests including Ricky Gervais and Brian May. The topics discussed in this fascinating pod include a full range of human experience issues, including culture, science, history and more.
The Weirdest Thing I Learned This Week
Sure it’s not an in-depth investigation type podcast, but there’s something really fantastic and fun about this snack-sized pod from Popular Science that explores various weird current-day and historical facts related to science and technology. I mean, how could you not love a podcast episode that starts with the title: “The Most Man-Eating Tiger, Historical Balook Riots, Baseball’s Curses”.
Website | Listen on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Overcast | Not sure where to start? Try this episode: Disney’s Military Tech, DIY Mummies, Forgotten Female Scientists
A Neuroscientist Explains
Columnist Dr. Daniel Glaser examines a wide variety of topics by way of applying his professional training as a neuroscientist. While this podcast appears to be defunct with only 15 episodes produced, it’s well worth delving into the archives.
This is one of NASA’s official podcasts featuring a journey through both planets and the various missions that NASA has sent to explore them along with topics that include NASA’s future plans for space exploration.
By far one of my favourite new podcasts, I’ve been binging this one for the past few weeks. Hilarious host Allie Ward provides an amazing forum for interviewing some of the smartest people in science. And any description beyond the show’s official byline would be doing it injustice so I’ll just leave that here: Volcanoes. Trees. Drunk butterflies. Mars missions. Slug sex. Death. Beauty standards. Anxiety busters. Beer science. Bee drama. Take away a pocket full of science knowledge and charming, bizarre stories about what fuels these professional -ologists’ obsessions.
Super Awesome Science Show
Canadian scientist and author Jason Tetro hosts the Super Awesome Science Show, an award-winning podcast that explores, mainly, the science of the body and other natural phenomenon affecting you. Most episodes run about 30 minutes, so you won’t be overwhelmed. New episodes weekly.