Apple’s iTunes offers a ton of free podcasts in its educational section geared towards making you a little smarter. Or at least sound that way. The best part: most of them are short, weekly series so you can cram in some good water cooler ideas or conference coffee break chat material when you have time.
Here are some of our favorites – educate us with your picks in the comments.
1. Stuff You Should Know
These quirky podcasts run about half an hour each, and explain often topical questions like how rehab works or how to go about house swapping. One of the informative podcasts from the folks at How Stuff Works, this is probably our favorite, though Stuff from the B-Side and Stuff Mom Never Told You are also excellent.
2. CliffsNotes CramCast
CliffsNotes has helped generations of time-pressed students cram for exams, now it’s migrating to the digital age for mobile users.
Publisher Wiley offers paid iPhone apps to help students get the gist of the classics, but we suggest a listen-in to their CramCast podcasts. In under five minutes, you’ll get the plot, intel on the author and three important points about the novel. Since many of the 40 or so great books are often in the news – privacy issues and 1984 or yet another “Pride and Prejudice” adaptation – a refresher on these classics never hurts.
3. Ask the Naked Scientists
A great series from experts at Cambridge bound to get your brain moving. (Starting with: how many scientists do you know that you’d want to see naked? And then ask them something while they are naked?)
The most entertaining podcast answers questions like the origins of bellybutton lint and how Tetris might help people overcome post-traumatic stress syndrome. Other titles in the Naked series include unclothed experts expounding on astronomy and archeology.
4. Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me
NPR’s Sunday morning quiz show on current events proves that sometimes truth can be stranger than fiction – even if you think you’ve been following the news it can be a challenge to pick out the right answers in this game show. Call-in contestants play against a lively panel of humorists and authors.
5. Legal Lad’s Quick and Dirty Tips for a More Legal Life
In under 10 minutes – and with a rockin’ ska intro – US attorney Adam Freedman answers about legal conundrums currently making news. Like whether your landlord is responsible for keeping your building bedbug-free or should cheerleading be considered a sport.
Just remember the disclaimer: “This article does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader. In other words, although I am a lawyer, I’m not your lawyer. In fact, we barely know each other. If you need personalized legal advice, contact an attorney in your community.” And you’ll be decidedly more knowledgeable after.