Podcast: StarTalk Radio
Hosted by: Dr. Neil de Grasse Tyson
Produced by: Curved Light productions, with funding from the National Science Foundation
The new face of science literacy, Neil de Grasse Tyson (see: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey), serves as your personal astrophysicist on this radio show-turned-podcast. Every week he invites a comedian to serve as his co-host–the likes of Eugene Mermen, Chuck Nice, Leighann Lord, and Lynne Koplitz (on the older shows). Being quite a humorous man himself, StarTalk isn’t a dry, informational podcast, but is instead a thoroughly enjoyable hour during which you’ll probably learn a lot.
The episode topics aren’t always related to space, but are always in some way related to science. Sometimes the show chooses a fun theme, like episodes “The Physics of Superheroes,” and “Science at the Movies”, or has funny guests like the Mythbutsers guys, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert.
A particular highlight are the Star Talk Live episodes. These are taped at various New York City comedy clubs, and consist of Tyson and Merman hosting a panel of guests, usually comprised of comedians, experts on the evening’s chosen topic, and whomever else they can find. Previous guests include Buzz Aldrin, Alan Alda, Kristin Schaal, Wil Wheaton, and Mike Massamino. The live audience really get into it (perhaps with the aid of a cocktail that‘s been specially formulated for the show)–but it isn’t a case of “you had to be there”. The laughs come over just as well on the podcast.
Also very entertaining are the “Cosmic Queries” episodes, or, as Tyson likes to call them, “StarTalk After Dark”. These are Q & A episodes where the good doctor answers questions submitted by fans.
Make sure to listen to the episodes 24-25 featuring guest Nichelle Nichols. Amongst the many interesting things she had to say was a story about when she met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. which was so sweet (and so cool!) it had me misty-eyed and sniffling–but in a good way.
The Bottom Line: Give this podcast a try, whether or not you think you like science. Anyone from middle-schoolers on up would find this both accessible and entertaining.