Give me some hardcore science pr0n
March 30, 2010 6:35 AM   Subscribe

Help me find hardcore science podcasts. I am a well-informed layman who likes reading about science issues above my head. Are there any hardcore science podcasts out there for me? NPR's Science Friday, Nature, and Science podcasts are all way, way too dumbed down. I want something really meaty I can listen to on the train and just barely be able to follow what they're saying, and maybe look up stuff on the web to actually learn something new. In other words, podcasts for science specialists by science specialists.
posted by zachawry to Science & Nature (18 answers total) 62 users marked this as a favorite
Berkeley Groks?
posted by phrontist at 6:37 AM on March 30, 2010

This Week in Virology
posted by HFSH at 6:48 AM on March 30, 2010

I totally hear you.

I'm quite partial to The Cell Podcast, personally.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 6:50 AM on March 30, 2010

I just found out about (but have not yet listened to) the American Scientist podcast. The magazine is exactly what you describe, so I assume the podcast will be.
posted by Uncle Jimmy at 7:08 AM on March 30, 2010

Wow, no kidding on the This Week in Virology podcast. This weeks competition is: Would it be possible to genetically engineer influenza virus so it could replicate in bacteria? Why or why not? Your answer should be no more than 500 words in length. “Yes” and “No” answers don’t count.

Would it be worth it reading up on virology just to win a Drobo?
posted by monocultured at 7:12 AM on March 30, 2010

I have heard good things about Brain Science Podcast.
posted by alms at 7:49 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Dr. Kiki's Science Hour does a pretty good job.

Also, the Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast covers a lot of science.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:55 AM on March 30, 2010

CBC Radio's Quirks & Quarks is what you're after.
posted by jaimev at 7:58 AM on March 30, 2010

RadioLab is making the best produced science radio show out there. It may not be hardcore enough for you but it amazes me every time.
posted by chairface at 8:30 AM on March 30, 2010

Describing RadioLab as the ((best produced) science radio show) is very accurate. But if you don't like Science Friday, it probably isn't meaty enough. (It isn't for me. Worse, they try to give 'the human angle' on every. single. story. Can't you just tell me about prime numbers without spending 3/4 of the time on the first time the mathematician cried?)

Dr Kiki is also on This Week In Science which I followed for a while but eventually gave up on because I realized that while they are meaty, they are terribly produced. Neither of them spent much planning ahead of time, so it was a bunch of complicated explanations filled with ums and uhs.

Naked Scientists can be good. The bio ones are often pretty complex but explained clearly. The physics ones are very dumbed down. And the entire cast reminds of these guys.

In short: I haven't found any good ones either.
posted by DU at 8:50 AM on March 30, 2010

I don't know any podcasts that exactly fit your description (but I will throw in a vote for RadioLab. Of the pop-science podcasts, it is by far the best one, even if it does have the 'first mathematician who cried' problem mentioned above), but have you tried iTunes U or MIT OpenCourseware?

iTunes U and MIT OpenCourseware have boatloads of full-blaze sciences lectures on them. It's not necessarily as engaging as a podcast, because, its a semester-long course, lecture by lecture. But I mean, you can def fill up your iPod with them and learn stuff. Sometimes its frustrating because they cut copyrighted slides out of the video and you can't understand what the prof is talking about, but...that varies a lot from course to course.

Beyond the actual science lectures though, there are things on iTunes U like...the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment Lecture Series. These, again, are not podcasts, but a lot of the lecture series on iTunes U are intended to be freestanding and for people of varying backgrounds. So you can listen to one without the commitment to a course, and also, its not someone teaching you intro chem, its someone being like "Hey, here's something interesting from my field!" The assumed background and depth vary wildly from lecture to lecture.

Basically, there's a lot of good stuff from Stanford on there that aren't courses (beyond science as well, my friend just forwarded me this 'Technology and Culture Symposium' thing on iTunes U and the one lecture I've listened to was pretty interesting).

Do you subscribe to the TED Talks podcast? The TED Talks are highly variable in quality, and they really try hard to not go out of the general public's depth of background knowledge, but you can certainly learn new things from them, or at least, find out about new things you *want* to learn about.
posted by jeb at 9:23 AM on March 30, 2010

MIT OpenCourseware is a great idea! I've always imagined them as having video too, but probably a bunch don't.

And that reminds me: The Teaching Company has some pretty great stuff too. They are pricey unless you know where to look. *cough* I particularly recommend the two linguistics courses from John McWhorter, who is a hoot.
posted by DU at 9:30 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

As a former research journal editor with a podcast, I listened to a bunch when developing ours and found that many big/well-known journals have their own podcast. So, if you are interested in, say, psychiatry, you might go to the Am Journal Psychiatry website.
posted by NikitaNikita at 9:35 AM on March 30, 2010

I'm not a science guy, and Radiolab can be kind of annoying (I really hate when they pretend to not know what the other one is going to say) but the way they draw in science and philosophy and life is pretty amazing. Definitely has made me think about a lot of things differently.
posted by sully75 at 12:04 PM on March 30, 2010

In the popular science format, one program I listen to goes above and beyond Quirks and Quarks, RadioLab, and their ilk.

That program is Material World with Quentin Cooper on BBC4. Full archives are available.
posted by FissionChips at 4:58 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

man, if you think science and nature podcasts are dumbed down I suspect you're going to be disappointed unless you start listening to university courses (and unfortunately most science needs a chalkboard or powerpoint presentation to get very in depth)

Get a kindle and a nature subscription?
posted by Large Marge at 5:40 PM on March 30, 2010

Seminars About Long-term Thinking always keep me thinking and usually researching the topic for more information. They are not strictly science and topics can include religion, economics etc... but it's all a good listen.
posted by alfanut at 7:08 PM on April 4, 2010

It's not really a podcast, but if you are a layman and want to learn some good science/information, listen to "Goljan Audio." You'd have to find a good torrent site though to get it or a medical student.
posted by doctorwhitecoat at 4:16 PM on April 7, 2010

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