Tech

10 Free Podcasts That Will Make You Smarter

Published On 08/19/2015 Published On 08/19/2015
iStock/kupicoo

Podcasts are so hot right now. From comedy to news to 20-minute segments about concrete, there are literally hundreds of podcasts to pique the interest of pretty much anyone with a pulse. 

That said, these 10 podcasts will not only entertain, they'll also inform, keeping you one step ahead of your peers as you learn everything you may have missed in high school. At the very least, they'll help you kill it the next time you hit the bar on trivia night.

Wizzard Media

1. Hardcore History

Description: A show that answers questions like, "Was Alexander the Great as bad a person as Adolf Hitler?" And, "What would Apaches with modern weapons be like?"

Remember that one teacher from high school, the one who actually gave a shit? Dan Carlin is that guy on steroids. Offering detailed rundowns of major moments in history, Carlin not only refreshes your memory on everything you ignored in Social Studies class, but does so in a way that inspires you to delve even deeper into these topics.

HowStuffWorks

2. Stuff You Should Know

Description: Two guys explore the stuff you should know about, including everything from marijuana to water slides.

The world is full of topics that affect our everyday lives, regardless of whether we understand them or not. The How Stuff Works team created this podcast to fill us in on the issues that were left out of our traditional education. Hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant keep the sessions lively and entertaining, but their focus is always on making sure listeners walk away with useful knowledge they probably didn't have an hour or so earlier.

HowStuffWorks

3. Stuff To Blow Your Mind

Description: Have you ever heard of Universe 25? This stuff is truly mind-blowing.

Another entry in the How Stuff Works catalog, this podcast focuses on the types of stories that remind us, at the end of the day, that reality is a lot stranger than fiction. Covering everything from surprisingly useful brain hacks to isolation tank hallucinations, the show points a practical, scientific eye at the weird way your world operates behind your back.

Wikicommons/Monica Flueckiger

4. Fareed Zakaria GPS

Description: A comprehensive look at foreign affairs and global policies through in-depth, one-on-one interviews and fascinating roundtable discussions.

We're more connected than ever. Staying up-to-date on current events involves keeping yourself informed about events happening not only at home, but thousands of miles away. Fareed Zakaria's podcast, an audio-only version of his TV show, gives you a quick but thorough rundown of what's new in the world, and why it matters.

NPR

5. How To Do Everything

Description: Half advice show, half survival guide. They'll answer all your questions, from how to find a date, to how to find water in the desert.

The amount of skills you have will always pale in comparison to the laundry list of those you lack. That's not a criticism, merely a fair insight about the world in which we live. This NPR podcast seeks to check off a few boxes on the "Things I Should Know How To Do" checklist that we all have stuffed in the back of our minds. The topics the show deals with may seem random (arm wrestling?), but you'll be shocked at how useful they can be when the right opportunity arises.

Wikicommons/NASA/Bill Ingalls

6. StarTalk Radio

Description: Neil deGrasse Tyson, his comic co-hosts, guest celebrities and scientists discuss astronomy, physics, and everything else about life in the universe.

As we've come to expect from this host, this potentially dull subject matter is relayed with wit, clarity, and enthusiasm. It's also chock-full of celebrities, with everyone from Bill Nye to Eugene Mirman to Elon Musk.

Flickr/Brian Solis

7. The Tim Ferriss Show

Description: Ferriss gives listeners tools, tactics, and tricks that they can use to better their lives.

Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, knows full well that his audience is interested in learning how to optimize their productivity without jumping into a lifestyle that consumes all of their energy. Featuring interviews with everyone from tech geeks to meditation gurus, this podcast is designed to help listeners live their best lives.

PRI

8. SciFri

Description: A weekly discussion of the latest news in science, technology, health, and the environment hosted by Ira Flatow.

With science, keeping up with what we don't know greatly outpaces what we do. SciFri keeps you up-to-speed with weekly episodes focused on what's happening in the world of science. It's the next best thing to having Bill Nye for a roommate.

Wikicommons/Erik Charlton

9. TED Radio Hour

Description: Like TED Talks, but in radio form.

Cobbling together the most enlightening TED Talks thus far, the folks at NPR have created a podcast that offers all the expert information these lectures have to offer in a non-visual format. Because you don't always have the time (or the data plan) to watch a full presentation. Listening to the highlights can leave you with the knowledge you're craving without interrupting your schedule.

Book Riot

10. Book Riot

Description: A weekly news and talk show about what's new, cool, and worth talking about in the world of books.

Finally, a podcast that makes use of new information technology to spread knowledge about the original information technology: books. Book Riot is a popular show whose simple mission is to keep listeners current on the best books available. If it takes a podcast to convince people that a library card is still a valuable asset, so be it.


Joe Oliveto is a staff writer at Supercompressor. Tell him which podcasts to listen to during his commute via Twitter.

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