The best science and technology podcasts, from astrology for beginners to consumer advice, selected and updated by Pete Naughton

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DiveFilm HD
Recommended for anyone with an interest in fish and sealife, this HD video podcast showcases dozens of short underwater films shot by divers from around the world. For my money, they're as close as you can get to witnessing alien encounters without straying into the realms of sci–fi. A recent example featured footage of life below Bonaire's fabled Salt Pier in the Southern Caribbean. Brilliant.

Sky Watch
Once a month, the children's radio station Fun Kids upload this short podcast for budding young astronomers, giving a brief roundup of what they'll be able to see in the night sky over the coming weeks. While I could hardly be described as the target audience, I've followed it for the last few episodes and am considering upgrading from binoculars to telescope as a result.

Nature Podcast
Nature, the celebrated, multi–disciplinary, nearly 150–year–old science journal, puts out this smart weekly podcast featuring highlights from the current print edition. They're collected with a broad, non–specialist audience in mind; and so can engage even a woolly–headed humanities graduate like this columnist. Recent episodes have covered everything from the history of human milk digestion to mining seedbanks for supercrops, from the oldest genome ever sequenced to a mind–bending new piece of technology which scientists – in a clear nod to the sci–fi community – have christened a 'time cloak'.

Physics Central
From the outside, physics is often perceived as a closed, intensely specialist subject – the purview of Mensarated academics rather than regular punters. This excellent podcast proves that theory wrong, with a range of engaging and accessible features that open up the subject to anyone with a bit of curiosity. Recent highlights include segments on the physics of Picasso's painting style, Second World War bombing strategies and a particularly engaging piece on the physics of crowds at heavy metal gigs.
Why does the Earth have deserts? How tall can a mountain be? Who invented frozen food? How fast is our atmosphere heating up? This fantastic series of podcasts – which uses beautiful pencildrawn animation and easy–tofollow narration to illuminate dozens of different scientific queries – has the answers.
The Naked Scientists
Describing themselves as "a media–savvy group of physicians and researchers from Cambridge University [who] strip science down to its bare essentials and promote it to the general public", the Naked Scientists are a likeable bunch who run a variety of podcast strands as well as a regular slot on Radio 5 Live's Up All Night. I stop by their website at least once a week, and always find something diverting to listen to: from a long feature on sport science to a meaningful discussion of the most tooth–friendly way to eat boiled sweets.

Science Friday Video Podcast
Every week, the folks behind the brilliant NPR radio show Science Friday (Science Friday) put out a short, self–produced video podcast detailing a quirky science or design story that they've come upon. Recent highlights include a tutorial of how to make a simple robotic hand using coffee; why the moth is more than just a drab butterfly; a tour of a beautiful–but–tiny 13–square metre house; and an interview with Al Gore about his book 'The Future'.
James O'Brien's Mystery Hour
Why do pigeons nod when they walk? Is toast healthier than bread? Why do some people have curly hair? These and a multitude of other questions – entertaining, strange, topical and complex – have been answered by LBC presenter James O'Brien during the 'Mystery Hour' segment of his daily phone–in, which is now available as a weekly podcast. Perfect for long family road trips.
Created in partnership with the United Nations Environmental Agency, is a rich and pleasingly unsanctimonoius source of video content about the environment and clean tech. Their website (Green.TV |) is the heart of the operation; but they also put out a variety of engaging video podcasts – including this one focusing on water–related issues, which features such luminaries as Gael Garcia Bernal and the sustainability guru Will Day.
Natural History Museum Treasures
Last November, the Natural History Museum opened a new permanent exhibition featuring 22 of their most treasured and revealing exhibits, from a piece of moon rock taken during the Apollo mission to a pair of Iguanodon teeth and the first ever Neanderthal skull. This series of bitesized podcasts – presented by the Museum's chief editor Vicky Paterson, with contributions from dozens of scientists, curators and experts – profiles six of them.
Tweet of the Day
Every weekday morning at 5.58am, Radio 4 listeners are treated to a different recording of birdsong followed by a short spoken piece about the bird in question. There are 265 episodes in total, and the series will run for the rest of the year. If you read Gillian Reynolds's column, you'll already know this; but I can add that it's also available – and works quite beautifully – as a daily podcast.


The Podcast
Science and technology enthusiasts who like their news delivered at bracingly high speed will love this podcast from the team. Each weekly 30–minute episode covers at least five stories, which the show's trio of savvy, enthusiastic presenters – Nate Lanxon, Olivia Solon and Liat Clark – pour over engagingly. These range from the serious (the ethics of in vitrio meat) to the joyously trivial (news of a government–sanctioned jetpack licence in New Zealand).
Which? Technology Podcast
Which? magazine, that veritable font of impartial consumer advice, put out a few decent podcast strands ––including one about financial services ( and a less regularly updated series about the motoring industry ( Pick of the bunch, though, is this genuinely helpful series focusing on consumer technology. Unlike many tech podcasts – which often operate on a by–geeks–for–geeks basis – it's low on jargon and deals with issues that regular non–techies will be interested in. Recent episodes have included features on blocking nuisance calls, finding the cheapest e–book prices online, haggling for a better broadband deal and reducing holiday phone bills.
Car Tech
Technology enthusiasts will likely already be familiar with, an American website featuring news and reviews from the sector. This punchy, Top Gear–style video podcast is their offering for online petrolheads. Each one–to–five–minute–long episode focuses on a new, soon–to–be–released car – from the ravishing Porche 918 Spyder to BMW's allelectric i3 – and makes for excellent eye candy. But there are serious discussions, too. A recent feature focused on the worst pollutants that exist in our cars. Mac Power Users
Hosted by a pair of Mactoting Californian attorneys called Katie Floyd and David Sparks, this tech podcast manages to be usefully detailed without being obfuscatingly geeky. Each episode takes on a different issue – from iPad setups to web publishing software to designing an e–book to getting the most out of iTunes – with Floyd and Sparks offering their advice and calling in expert guests for additional help. NB: more suited to keen, Apple–equipped amateurs than absolute beginners