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Mobility and science podcasts

19 April 2018

Since last year, audio podcasts have been getting more and more attention in Germany – especially after the popular episodes of “Fest und Flauschig” (firm and furry) by television presenters Jan Böhmermann and Olli Schulz and the sensational success of the U.S. production “Serial”. However, the podcast scene is also bringing out more and more specialist topics produced by experts: in our article “The third spring of the podcast”, #explore gave an overview of why podcasts have become so successful now and which of them are particularly popular with techies. The second part of our podcast series is all about mobility and science – #explore now presents the eight most exciting podcasts from this area.

Input for the coffee break: Information snacks

Three minutes to go until your train is due to arrive? That’s the ideal time to hear about Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle – made possible by the Wissens-Snacks (information snacks) podcast by Deezer. Well explained, entertaining and in a short three minutes, the podcast digs its way through (the history of) science and technology: from the Wankel engine, through chaos theory and fridges, right up to the invention of the phone and modern sewage systems. It is a great starting point for getting into a certain topic or helping you to show off your knowledge at the office photocopier or the coffee machine.

Link to the podcast:

The alternative traffic bulletin: AutoMobil

Every Monday, the online radio station reports on traffic, transport and mobility in all shapes and forms. This is when the AutoMobil presenters hold ten-minute discussions with specialist colleagues or experts about driving bans for diesel vehicles, the future of public transport, innovative road damage detection methods and inflatable cars to take on a caravan trip. Cycling fans are better served in the “Antritt” (pedalling) podcast. Once a month, the magazine devotes an hour to everything about bicycles.

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From Automated cars to digital election campaigns: Böll’s special

We have all heard about artificial intelligence from radio and television. But what is really behind it, what makes algorithms “intelligent” and where their limits are is often still unclear. This special podcast by the Heinrich Böll Foundation casts new light and unravels the complex subject matter without drifting off into talking shop or oversimplification. In their episodes of around twenty minutes, the podcasts also deal with topics like automated driving and algorithm-based prediction of crime occurrence. Other interesting episodes of the podcast deal with digital election campaigns and the phasing out of coal.

Link to the podcast:

Podcasting railwaymen: Train radio and rail radio

The everyday working life of employees at the German railway company Deutsche Bahn or in the logistics centres behind the railway network often remains in the dark where the general public is concerned. But now the podcasting railwaymen have set out to change that, and on Zugfunk (train radio), three engine drivers to be are now talking about their training and their work routine in the driver’s cab. And in the Bahnfunk (rail radio) podcast, train dispatcher Lukas Kösterke and social media editor Tim Grams get together once a week to discuss current issues in the field of rail transport. Just like Tim’s blog, the podcast wishes to create “More understanding for rail operations” – which however does not mean that mildly critical views cannot be expressed.

Link to the podcast:

Insights from E car pioneers: Electrify BW podcast

Electric cars are still a rare sight in German cities, but Jana Höffner has been powered by electricity since 2013. As a Zoe pioneer, she has been blogging about her experience with her electric car ever since. In late 2016, she started the Electrify BW podcast together with radio editor Jérôme Brunelle, and every other week they talk about new developments, charging stations and transport policies, and also advise electric car enthusiasts about how to change over to electromobility or go on holiday in an electric vehicle. Sometimes, the two podcasters join forces with the makers of Cleanelectric, a podcast that has been produced by three and more passionate defenders of electric mobility since early 2016.

Link to the podcast:

For polymaths: Omega tau

Some podcasts work because there is a round of experts whose lively exchange of opinions is a pleasure to listen to, others thrive because of interesting discussion partners and interested hosts. Omega Tau belongs to this second category: Since 2008, physicist Markus Völter and electrical engineer Nora Ludewig have been combing through the world of science, technology and engineering in 280 podcast episodes. They speak to experts at length about wind turbines, experimental geophysics, neuronal networks, block chains and the power grid or they talk to ISS astronaut Alexander Gerst about experiments in outer space. These discussions are not only worthwhile for nerds with a broad range of interests, but for all of us who want to get a taste of topics we do not usually deal with. The team also goes on tour regularly, visiting pumped-storage hydro power plants, research institutes or flying with the crew of Lufthansa Cargo from Frankfurt to Istanbul via Tel Aviv.

Link to the podcast:

The legend hunter: Hoaxilla

The moon landing – a studio fake, of course. Contrails – poisonous chemicals intended to kill us all. The amber room – just discovered again recently. Conspiracy theories and urban legends have been around from time immemorial. In the age of the internet, they spread around the globe in real time and find a growing number of followers in forums and social networks. Hoaxilla, “the sceptical podcast from Hamburg” by Alexa and Alexander Waschkau critically examines conspiracy theories, science myths and urban legends. The ethnologist and the psychologist de-mystify pre-astronautics, electric smog and parapsychology in a science-based, humorous and always entertaining way without moralising undertones and reach up to 80,000 listeners every other week.

Link to the podcast:

The intergalactic podcast: Spacetime

You always wanted to be an astronaut, but somehow it hasn’t happened? And you are still fascinated with outer space? Then the Raumzeit (spacetime) podcast is right in your orbit. In this podcast, Tim Pritlove – a national institution and driver of the German podcast scene – asks scientists, engineers, astronauts and project managers all sorts of questions. The individual episodes each focus on one particular aspect: space missions, rocket propulsion systems, space stations, neutron stars and space law are discussed in detail in sessions of one up to three hours. The podcast started in 2010 as a project of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the European Space Agency (ESA). Since 2013, Tim has been navigating endless acoustic space on his own account.

Link to the podcast:

Funny scientists: Methodically incorrect!

Since 2013, the physicists Reinhard Remfort and Nicolas Wöhrl have been talking about their future in the podcast Methodisch Inkorrekt! (methodically incorrect). Every other week, they talk about the latest scientific publications, launch experiments or present absurd gadgets from China – in a way which is truly funny and enormously informative. Even if all you ever learned in your physics lessons back in school was how not to fall asleep, this podcast will help you understand why finding a method to measure gravitational waves deserves a Nobel prize. Occasionally, Reinhard and Nicolas also go up on stage, for example at the Chaos Communication Congress, where they demonstrate how funny science can be.

Link to the podcast: