Podcast Friday!

It’s Podcast Friday! Each week we’ll compile some of the more interesting podcasts from around the web and list them right here for your listening pleasure!

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Bits: Tech Talk from The New York Times

Identity Theft and a Happy App (December 08, 2011) — Daniel Mohan of ID Watchdog explains how people’s identities can be stolen (and what to do about it) and Will Lucas discusses Thankyouaga.in, a new social app for positive posts.

Book Reviews from The New York Times

The Ten Best Books of 2011 (Friday, December 09, 2011) — This week, the Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2011; Gerald Marzorati on “Love Goes to Buildings on Fire”, Will Hermes’ book about the New York music scene in the 1970s; Julie Bosman has notes from the field; the Times’s Susan Chira discusses “No Higher Honor”, the new memoir by Condoleeza Rice; and Gregory Cowles has best-seller news. Sam Tanenhaus is the host.

Brain Stuff

How does the oxygen sensor in a car work? (Wednesday, December 14, 2011) — All new cars sport oxygen sensors that are designed to cut down emissions and keep the engine running smoothly. Find out exactly how these sensors work in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

How do motion sensors work? (Monday, December 12, 2011) — There are many kinds of motion sensors, from active to passive systems. Get the scoop on how myriad motion sensing systems work in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

How does a speedometer in an airplane work? (Friday, December 09, 2011) — Most people are familiar with speedometers in cars, but do you know how air speed is determined? In this episode, Marshall explains how devices called pitot tubes gauge the speed of moving aircraft.

Culturetopia from NPR

Culturetopia: Minor Key Edition (Wednesday, December 14, 2011) — This Week in Culturetopia: “Redneck” sterotypes on TV; new stories by author Anita Desai; the band Miracles of Modern Science; what the movies “Young Adult” and “We Need To Talk About Kevin” have in common; remembering Colonel Potter.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: The Guilty Pleasure Problem And The Holiday Tune (Friday, December 09, 2011) — This week on Pop Culture Happy Hour, NPR Monkey See’s Linda Holmes and the PCHH gang take a look at the “guilty pleasure” — whether they believe in guilty pleasures, and then explore the notion with songs. Then it’s time for a discussion of holiday music and, as always, What’s Making Us Happy this week.

Music Popcast from The New York Times

The Best Albums of 2011 (Thursday, December 15, 2011) — Jon Pareles, Nate Chinen and Ben Ratliff, pop music critics for The Times, discuss their favorite albums of 2011.


In Defense of Pluto (Tuesday, December 13, 2011) — After Pluto was discovered in 1930, it enjoyed the title of planet for more than 75 years. But in 2006, that all changed. At a meeting in Prague, the International Astronomical Union adopted a new definition for planethood, leaving the solar system with only eight planets. But not everyone agrees with its decision. In this podcast, planetary scientist Alan Stern talks to us about Pluto’s demotion, and why he thinks it should be back on list of planets.


December Movie Deluge (Wednesday, December 14, 2011) — As the Oscar hopefuls and family movies are opening en masse, the box office choices can be overwhelming. Don’t sweat it. Tracy and Holly are sharing their lists of films they’re looking forward to this holiday season to help you sort it all out.

Why do we watch what’s hard to watch? (Monday, December 12, 2011) — It’s the entertainment equivalent of rubbernecking as you pass by a car accident. Sometimes, something is incredibly difficult to watch, but we seek it out just the same. Tracy and Holly have some theories about painful entertainment.

Stuff To Blow Your Mind

The Santa Claus Machine (Thursday, December 15, 2011) — How does Santa Claus make so many gifts? Clearly his elves have harnessed the power of nanomanufacturing. But what does this mean for the planet? In this episode, Robert and Julie consider the possibilities of limitless custom manufacturing.

Give the Gift of a Mystery Box (Tuesday, December 13, 2011) — Why are mystery packages so appealing? How do they improve our mental faculties and fuel our creativity? In this episode, Julie and Robert share tales of sealed envelopes, quantum thought experiments, virginity boxes and things Pandora should never have opened. You might even score a gift idea or two.

Stuff You Missed in History Class

Rosalind Franklin: DNA’s Dark Lady (Wednesday, December 14, 2011) — The men who usually credited with discerning DNA’s structure won the Nobel Prize in 1962, but they used Rosalind Franklin’s research. In 1952, she captured the best DNA image available at the time, and the Nobel winners accessed it without her knowledge.

The Kaiser’s Chemist: Fritz Haber (Monday, December 12, 2011) — Fritz Haber has a mixed legacy.  The Nobel-Prize-winning Father of Chemical Warfare was responsible for fertilizers that fed billions, as well as poisonous gasses used during World War I. Tune in to learn more about Fritz’s complicated life and work.

Stuff You Should Know

How Earthworms Work (Thursday, December 15, 2011) — Earthworms come in a wide range of sizes: The average U.S. earthworm is 6 to 11 inches long, and the giant worms of Australia and South America can grow to a length of 11 feet. Join Josh and Chuck as they burrow into the weird world of earthworms.

How McCarthyism Works (Tuesday, December 13, 2011) — If you’re accusing someone of disloyalty or subversion without decent evidence, then you may be guilty of McCarthyism. In this episode, Josh and Chuck explore the origin of the term, starting with the infamous Communist-hunting Senator Joseph McCarthy.

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