I highly recommend having some podcasts at hand for those moments when your life involves commuting, grocery shopping, cleaning, running or any other activity that doesn’t require much thinking.
Sciencey – for anyone, really
Radiolab – my all time favourite, great science combined with great storytelling. Start here as a podcast novice.
Undiscovered – stories of the people and the process behind scientific discoveries.
Flash forward – every episode envisages a possible future scenario, and then discusses the details of this dys/utopia. One of the most original approaches for tackling a range of techy topics.
Science vs. – investigates the evidence behind ideas we’ve all heard of (my favourite is ‘does hypnosis work?’)
Transistor – shorter podcasts about science and technology.
The infinite monkey cage – hosted by a physics professor and a comedian, discussing a broad range of topics in science with a good amount of British humour and homeopathy-bashing thrown in.
The curious cases of Rutherford and Fry – a mathematician and a biologist solve scientific cases, with a good bit of British humour and bickering thrown in.
Base pairs – stories about genetics, well explained for a lay audience.
Invisibilia – discusses the invisible factors that shape our behaviour, mixing psychology with stories about interesting people.
Rationally speaking – an in-depth look at philosophical and applies ideas on a range of topics.
The life scientific – short interviews with scientists working in a range of fields.
Hidden brain – stories about science and human behavior.
To a lesser degree – climate reporting by the Economist
Hot take – discussions of climate reporting and storytelling
Science – probably more for scientists working in neuro/psych
Cognitive Revolution – interviews with cognitive scientists, focusing on their individual career journeys and personal stories. A bit like career advice from a great mentor, but in a podcast.
Unsupervised thinking – computational neuroscience journal club, with good introduction to (sometimes technical) topics before discussing specific papers.
Brain Inspired – interviews with prominent computational neuroscientists. Has become a brilliant repository for the most exciting ideas in AI, philosophy and neuroscience.
Neurotalk – Stanford graduate students interview the (usually fairly big-shot) scientists who speak in their internal seminars.
Neurific – interviews with eminent neuroscientists.
Neurotransmissions – another great one featuring interviews with famous neuroscientists, this one from the Max Planck in Florida.
Bold signals – interviews with neuroscientists about their work and careers.
Everything Hertz – two Australians musing about the scientific process and everything that comes with a scientific career.
The startup scientist – from one of the makers of everything Hertz, brief episodes drawing parallels between science and the startup mentality.
The black goat – three psychologists discuss the ins and outs of being a scientist in the time of the replication crisis, the move towards open science and changes in the way research is done.
Other kinds of storytelling
No such thing as a fish – weekly half-hour of facts, fun and banter from the makers of QI. Don’t listen if you get embarrassed when laughing by yourself in public.
This American life – great classical storytelling around a certain theme each episode.
99% Invisible – nominally about architecture and design, but actually telling the stories behind many things we take for granted every day. The host has one of the nicest voices I’ve heard on the radio (and possibly in real life).
Planet money – economics in daily life, for those of you who want some more solid stuff than the freakonomics series.
Serial – like a TV series but audio. Start with the first season investigating a murder case, and appreciate the sheer journalistic brilliance of the team.
Inflection point – interviews with successful and powerful women who are changing the world for the better.
Everything is alive – interviews with, well, inanimate objects. One of the most original podcasts around; don’t judge before you’ve listened.
Haagse Zaken – Dutch politics explained.
Europe’s stories – a lecture series by Oxford University, on telling the future of the European project