The Top 5 Physics Podcasts

By: Laurie-Anne Vazquez 06/09/2015 1:12PM
Category: Learning

CREDIT: STARTALK RADIO

Physics isn’t the easiest scientific discipline to understand, but all of the things that make it complex - abstract concepts, tricky terminology, and constantly-changing facts – also make it fascinating. And all of those things are also perfect for podcasting.

While harder to find than general science podcasts, there are podcasts devoted to covering all things physics – often in ways that are more fun than you’d expect. Whether you’re listening at the gym or while relaxing on Sunday afternoon, here are the 5 best physics podcasts we’ve found on the web (and 2 runners-up):

CREDIT: Physics World

Physics World

If you want bite-size bits of insight into the latest developments of physics research, this is your podcast. The editors of Physics World magazine utilize their level-headed journalism skills to hunt down experts and ask smart, tough questions about everything from the viability of the research and the importance of physics education, to cultural and political issues shaping the international scientific community. The interview-style format works well, and allows for exploration of topics that’s more difficult for shorter podcasts to pull off.

 

Schedule: New episodes are released every 48 days
Average Length: 13 minutes
Topics include: antimatter, citizen science, quantum mechanics – and our very own Mark Jackson explaining the necessity of crowdfunding physics research.

CREDIT: Paul Sutter

Ask A Spaceman

If you’ve ever wanted your own personal guide to the mysteries of the universe, a guru to answer every single possible question you could ever think of, astrophysicist Paul Sutter is your guy. Sutter believes science is for sharing, and he uses this podcast to help listeners achieve “Complete knowledge of time and space – one question at a time.” It’s a noble, egalitarian goal, and embraces citizen scientists everywhere by crowdsourcing his content. Everything Sutter talks about on his show is user-generated. EVERYTHING. Even though his podcast is fairly new, his community is rapidly expanding. Ask him a question!

Schedule: Every two weeks
Average Length: 40 minutes
Topics include: black holes, quasars, dark matter, Pluto – and anything else you want to know!

Hubblecast

Combining images from the Hubble telescope with stories about their discovery is a great premise for a vodcast, and Hubblecast delivers in spades. Drawing on NASA & ESA’s unparalleled HD asset library to illustrate the latest astronomy and astrophysics news, Hubblecast is the equivalent of an IMAX observatory show, only portable (and downloadable!). Some segments are hosted by astronomer Joe Liske while others are narrated with captions in multiple languages. While the segments can start to run together during binge watching, all of them are short and easily digestible. And, need we point out, bingeable. Why their tagline isn’t “See everything Hubble sees,” we do not know.

Schedule: Monthly
Average Length: 10 minutes
Topics include: astronomy

CREDIT: TITANIUM PHYSICIST

Titanium Physicist

How much fun can physics be? Way more than you’d expect, judging by this podcast. Physicists Ben Tippett and David Tsang are PhDs, very silly, and ridiculously smart. They’re the primary hosts, while physicists Jocelyn Reid, Catherine Neish, Charlie Barnhart, Rupinder Barr, Joanna Woo, and lots of other silly, smart, PhDs make guest appearances. Between all of them, they discuss every aspect of physics that they can possibly cram into a show. Misinformation and half-truths have no place here; only genuine love of physics. And nigh-giggly levels of nerding out.

 

Schedule: Roughly every 2 weeks
Average Length: 20-60 minutes
Topics include: condensed matter, particle physics, astronomy – and lasers!

CREDIT: STARTALK RADIO

Star Talk

It’s impossible to do a physics podcast round-up and not mention Neil deGrasse Tyson’s. Tyson is the director of the Hayden Planetarium and a rockstar astrophysicist. To his credit, he uses that clout to interview people and promote scientific causes other scientists can’t – like chatting with former President Carter about eradicating diseases, or actor and activist George Takei about the legacy of Star Trek. Tyson’s natural enthusiasm and curiosity shine through in the interview segments, as does his love of all things astrophysics. He even gets to do comedic bits with comedian co-host Chuck Nice. While the format is a bit gimmicky, Tyson’s passion is always front and center – especially in his segments with Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Schedule: Weekly
Average Length: 60 minutes
Topics include: cosmology, quantum physics, space travel – and the science ofInterstellar.

 

Honorable Mentions

CREDIT: INFINITE MONKEY CAGE

The Infinite Monkey Cage

Comedians Brian Cox and Robin Ince use their considerable English wit and deep wackiness to ask scientists questions ranging from insightful to irreverent. Despite the wacky trappings, the duo are passionate citizen scientists and treat the material with reverence – even as they playfully lampoon it. Employs a Q&A format with a live audience.

Schedule: Weekly
Average Length: 60 minutes
Topics: “When Quantum Goes Woo

Credit: OXFORD UNIVERSITY

Oxford Department Of Physics

Sometimes you just want someone to explain the mysteries of the universe to you, face to face. This vodcast series is the next best thing. Part of Oxford University’s Open Education curriculum, these podcasts feature the world’s foremost experts in pretty much any physics discipline you could imagine. You could even use these lectures as part of a MOOC, they’re that comprehensive. The only drawback is that they’re about an hour long, and there’s a hefty amount of buffering involved in watching these world-class professors unravel the secrets of the universe. Not ideal for the gym.

Schedule: Monthly
Average Length: 60 minutes
Topics include: quantum physics, astronomy, string theory, plasma – everything. They’re Oxford. They have everything.

Love science? Get involved at the ground floor of discovery and help make physics happen. Click here to explore science in the making.

Posted on: 06/09/15 1:12PM
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Laurie-Anne Vazquez
Blog Contributor
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#MakePhysicsHappen @fiatphysica

“Fiat Physica shall hand the steering wheel of scientific innovation to the public, allowing them to contribute to science, communication, and discovery directly.”

Szabolcs Marka

Chair of the Education and Public Outreach Committee, LIGO and Associate Professor of Physics, Columbia University
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