Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Podcast for Inquisitive Minds

Do you listen to podcasts? If you don't, I recommend you try one out. They are (generally) free radio show-like recordings distributed through itunes or direct from the podcast's website. Podcasts are my favorite thing to listen to when cleaning my apartment. They engage your brain and provide the perfect complement to something like cleaning, that engages your body. I listen to a number of podcasts designed for a specific audience, like Joss Whedon fan podcasts and some cooking podcasts (more on these in another post). There are other podcasts that are much more general and can be enjoyed by anybody who likes hearing about interesting topics. I am assuming most of you already listen to the interesting and enjoyable This American Life, so I won't review it here. This post is dedicated to a different beast: WNYC's RadioLab.

RadioLab is an hour long radio show and podcast devoted to one topic explored in different ways. It is similar to This American Life in some ways, but RadioLab is more heavily focused on science topics. Sometimes its pure hard science, sometimes it explores the intersection of science and society. Sometimes the show deals with moral dilemmas or other social issues.

One of the my favorite parts about RadioLab is the hosts. The show is hosted, written, and produced by veteran journalist Robert Kurlwich and the younger, hipper Jad Abumrad. Jad is Scully and Robert is Mulder. They challenge each other and ask questions when things don't make sense. Sometimes they agree to disagree, especially on issues of "something bigger" than our physical world. This format acknowledges potential audience questions, without dumbing down the show.

One of my recent favorites was RadioLabs show on laughter. It goes into the science behind laughter and explores laughter in other animal species. It made me appreciate the most-laughter filled game of Settlers of Catan I recently played in a whole new way.

Want to know what the deal is with that crazy thing that happens when you are falling asleep and you JERK awake? Listen to the episode called "Falling." Want to know how to avoid detection if you want to embezzle money or commit tax fraud? Listen to the episode called "Numbers." Want to know how an intestinal parasite can provide allergy relief? Listen to the episode called "Parasites." Want to know more about the devastation caused by the War of the Worlds broadcast? Listen to the, you guessed it, "War of the Worlds" episode.

RadioLab is a fabulous addition to any digital consumer's repertoire and I give it 5 out of 5 ipods.

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