This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
© 2020 The New York Times Company
The approval of two COVID-19 vaccines for use in the United States was a much-needed flicker of hope in recent weeks, although that wave of relief has since been dampened by a slow and stumbling rollout, with inoculation appointments scarce in many states as the pandemic continues to ravage the nation.
But in the spirit of a gratitude practice, let’s focus on the positive. It is nothing short of miraculous that within a year, scientists have developed multiple vaccines against such an aggressive virus — the previous record-holder for the fastest vaccine ever developed was mumps, which took four years.
This is a triumphant moment, and these seven podcasts celebrate the wonders of science through expert-led deep dives, humorous debates and rich storytelling.
There’s something thrilling about hearing very smart people talk passionately about the things they’re smartest about, especially when their area of expertise is unusual. Anchored by the witty and charismatic presence of Alie Ward, a science correspondent for CBS’ “The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation” with Mo Rocca,” Ologies puts the spotlight on scientific experts working in fields you may never have heard of — and gives them an entertaining platform to wax lyrical about their particular “ology.” Ward’s intellectual curiosity is as infectious as her guests’ enthusiasm, and she keeps things accessible no matter how esoteric the subject: Recent episodes have focused on desairology (the science of mortuary makeup), agnotology (the science of ignorance) and pelicanology (self-explanatory, but still full of surprises). You’ll probably never think of science as dry or dull again.
Starter episode: “Urban Rodentology”
The premise behind this decade-old show is simple: We all have science stories to tell, because simply existing in the world means we’re interacting with science all the time. The Story Collider is a nonprofit group founded by two physicists who wanted to amplify personal stories that “spark emotional connections to science,” a mission encapsulated by its podcast. Most episodes present two stories that share a common thread about the human experience behind scientific experiments, interactions with animals or how biological impulses shape our lives. Since November, the show has been dedicated to telling “Stories of COVID-19” from different angles, such as the pandemic’s impact on different generations or how society adapts to a new normal.
Starter episode: “Celebrating 10 Years: Our Favorite Stories”