I came to a startling (for me, anyway) realization a few weeks ago. It was this: of all the entertainment channels available to me in this media-saturated world, the one that I actually spend most time being entertained by is podcasts. Yes, I spend more time listening to podcasts than I do reading, watching TV, whatever.
The reason’s pretty obvious, when you think about it. Audio is the one form of entertainment you can slot into a multi-tasking arrangement, so I can consume podcasts while driving, walking, shopping, picking my nose etc. Now I could do the same thing with radio, of course – and to some extent I do – but being a podcast junkie is like having in my pocket a constantly available radio station wherein every single bit of content has been personally selected by me to conform to my eclectic tastes. Awesome, in short. I’ve thought for a long time that podcasting is one of the more under-rated wonders that the internet has delivered to us.
So, I thought I’d embark on an occasional series of posts here highlighting podcast episodes I’ve listened to and enjoyed recently.
To kick things off, I offer up for your consideration Astronomy Cast #246.
My favourite recent edition of an often interesting podcast, in which knowledgeable folks discuss a question of interest to armchair astronomers, science fiction fans and writers alike: What If Something Was Different? By which they mean, what would be the implications for Earth, life and everything if some of the circumstances surrounding our planet’s location, evolution or condition had been different. They address all sorts of stuff from the cosmic – what if the Earth’s Sun had been one of those formed in the very, very early stages of the Universe’s life? – to the more local – what if Earth had a different number of moons?
It’s mind-expanding stuff, not only in making you think about seriously big picture stuff and providing a bit of pretty accessible cosmological education, but also in marvelling at the capacity of the human species to ask, and at least partially answer, questions like this. If you feel your mind could do with a bit of expansion today, do go give it a listen.