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12 podcasts to tickle your brain when on the go

What do you do while travelling, cleaning up or running errands? Do you listen to music or to the radio? In the past year I have gotten into quite an active life rhythm which doesn’t give me a lot of time to sit down and read. Often on the go, I’ve turned to podcasts to get information and stories about the world around me. I like it that I can choose the type of show to listen to, just like choosing music on Spotify. It could be something about science, culture, economics or the outdoors. It could be interviews or a narrated story with different sound clips. It is, however, rarely one person talking about a topic as I originally imagined a podcast to be. There are so many great shows out there that I now have quite a long backlog. Luckily, my phone downloads them automatically, so I just have to click and play.

Here are my personal favourites:


Inquiring minds

Inquiring Minds brings you a weekly in-depth exploration of the places where science, politics and society collide. Engaging in probing discussions with leading scientists and thinkers, the show is committed to finding out what’s true, what’s left to discover and why it all matters.


Gastropod looks at the hidden history and surprising science behind a different food and/or farming-related topic, from aquaculture to ancient feasts, from cutlery to chili peppers, and from microbes to Malbec. It brings together interviews with experts, visits to labs, fields and archaeological digs in order to discover new ways to understand the world through food.

Culture & society

99% Invisible

99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world. It’s undoubtedly one of the most popular podcasts on iTunes.


Criminal is a podcast about crime. Stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or got caught somewhere in the middle.

Only Human

Only Human is a podcast about making the most of our health, whether we’re training for a marathon, overcoming an illness, or trying not to go broke paying for healthcare. It’s a show that is not afraid to have uncomfortable conversations, and experiment with possible solutions. Only Human. Because every body has a story.

Little Atoms

Each week, Neil Denny brings you exclusive interviews with the best writers in literature, science, art and politics.

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History

Part storyteller, part analyst, Carlin has mastered the art of looking at subjects from multiple angles and dissecting and thinking about them in original ways. He isn’t afraid to go deep or to inject historical context into modern debates. Whether it’s history or current events he’s discussing, his passion is contagious, his approach refreshing and his ideas tickle your brain in all the right places. He’ll make you mad too. You’ll like it.



Host Stephen Dubner has surprising conversations that explore the riddles of everyday life and the weird wrinkles of human nature—from cheating and crime to parenting and sports. Dubner talks with Nobel laureates and provocateurs, social scientists and entrepreneurs — and his Freakonomics co-author Steve Levitt.


Economics podcast for daily life. Weekly interviews with guests ranging from small business owners to Nobel Laureates.

50 Things That Made the Modern Economy

In 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy, host Tim Harford presents short, surprising and story-driven episodes about inventions, ideas and innovations which have helped create the economic world we live in.


Outside Podcast

Outside Podcast aims to apply the magazine’s long-standing literary storytelling methods to the audio realm. The podcast’s first series delves into the science of survival in some of nature’s most extreme environments.

Out There: A Podcast About The Outdoors

Out There is a podcast that explores big questions through intimate stories in the great outdoors.

You can find more podcast recommendations on this TED blog. What podcasts do you listen to? Write your suggestions in the comments below.

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