Big Picture Science review

Rating –

big picture science logo

A month or so ago, if you’d have asked me who Seth Shostak is, I would have spent about an hour wracking my brain whilst cursing you. I’ve known the name for years, and I would have guessed that it was something to do with UFOs. I wouldn’t be too far from the mark I guess, because he is the senior astronomer for SETI. Despite hearing this podcast advertised on nearly every episode of Penn’s Sunday School, I never put the two things together (my ears tend to switch themselves off when adverts start so I skip forward a minute or two). After hearing him interviewed on Monster Talk, I subscribed and with some trepidation, pressed play.

So what’s it about?

I say trepidation, because whilst I love highbrow “brainy” (or “geek bullshit” if you ask my partner) podcasts, I don’t really listen to many pure science shows.

Big Picture Science is a weekly podcast that examines different subjects and interviews scientists in the relevant fields. Seth Shostak and his co-host Molly Bentley are excellent presenters. My indecision was unfounded and I’ve quickly fallen in love with this brilliant series.

The show cover a diverse range of topics including global warming, conspiracy theories, robots and exactly what it’s like inside a black hole. Of course, being based at SETI, there are plenty of discussions on the search for earthlike planets and astronomy.

Is it any good?

This is one of those highbrow podcasts that covers intellectual subjects in a very easy to understand manner. The sometimes complex subject matter is always put forward in a relatively jargon free and entertaining manner. Seth and Molly’s sense of humour shines through, yet is never inane, and they are both as eager to find out about new things as the guests are to tell them (and us) about it.

Being that the early episodes are 12 years old (on my podcasther anyway), some of the news stories they cover have actually finished. The fact that I know how the stoires play out doesnt detract from them at all. There is always some little detail that I had missed, or that they explain in a better way. This is why its so good.

Final thoughts

If you’re looking for something different to your main diet of fiction or true crime, then you really should check this out. It’s very similar in style to podcasts like Monster Talk or The Tetrapod Zoology Podcast, and is one that with its hundreds of episodes, will keep me amused for a very long time.

I appreciate that this is on the shorter end of reviews I’ve written, especially when I devoted about 800 words to a three brain show a few weeks back. I could have really just said “This is a brilliant podcast, subscribe immediately”. That isn’t really a review though is it? You should though. Subscribe immediately I mean.

You can get Big Picture Science here:

https://radio.seti.org/

Or wherever you get your podcasts.