I have started listening to podcasts in my free time. I especially like to listen to something while jogging. I even listen to them when I jog with others, because all of my family members, including my 11-year-old daughter, are considerably faster than me. Music is very good, but I have switched to podcasts of various topics to get me through the workout. While I have a couple “current events” podcasts, I prefer “educational” podcasts. Here are a few of them. And yes, this does have something to do with JGR Space Physics, or at least space physics as a field.
Probably my favorite is Radiolab. They take a topic, often a recent scientific advancement, and explore in depth how this nugget of information intersects with humanity. My local NPR station airs it, but not a convenient time for me to hear it. Another excellent one I listen to regularly is Science Vs by Wendy Zuckerman, an Australian science journalist. Her relatively short (~15 minute) episodes compare “fact against fad” on a broad scope of topics in a witty presentation full of interviews with scientists working in that field. Yet another is The Infinite Monkey Cage, put on by the BBC in which the hosts convene a panel in front of a live audience. I’ve heard Carolyn Porco speak about Cassini a couple of times on this show. They make it fun by always including a comedian as one of the panelists; they’ve had Eric Idle on a couple of times this year. A final group I’d like to tell you about is the crew at Quick and Dirty Tips. One of my favorites is Grammar Girl, but I like the science podcasters as well. Explore the site; there is a lot on it.
First off, I would love to hear about your favorite podcasts. Feel free to comment below with names and/or links to the podcasts or video/audio productions that you enjoy.
Second, though, I wonder how to get our science of space physics covered more regularly on these types of shows. Sometimes the aurora is mentioned and planetary science occasionally makes it onto one of these shows. It’s a very small percentage of the content, though. Perhaps that’s the best we can hope for, but I think not. Going back to my earlier post on preparing your own Ted-style talk, I think that space physicists should take a more active role in promoting our science beyond the lecture halls of space physics conferences. Public awareness is a critical foundation to public support; the more we advertise the existence of our field to those beyond ourselves, the easier it will be to make the case that our science is important and contributes to the betterment of society. I think it’s a topic that we should be considering and taking seriously within our community. One place in which this conversation has been going for quite some time is the SPA-EPO committee. This committee organizes a number activities to promote education and public outreach for our discipline. If you have an interest, then I urge you to contact the AGU staff listed on the page to get info about the monthly telecons.