Podcast Picks

2 min read

Reviewed by Stephen Cass

University of Virginia Virtual Lab


PHOTO: john C. Bean/UVA Virtual Lab

For more than six years, John C. Bean has been creating three-dimensional ­animations that explain the inner ­workings of technological devices, such as integrated circuits, scanning tunneling microscopes, and Van de Graaff generators. Last year, he began publishing these animations using podcast technology to deliver short but informative narrated presentations. Aimed at students, these podcasts can serve as refresher courses even for veteran engineers. My favorite was the dissection of an optical drive, illustrating the sophisticated yet elegant feedback mechanism that keeps the laser focused on the surface of a CD or a DVD.



PHOTO: CERIAS/Purdue University

For 15 years Purdue University has been hosting an hour-long weekly seminar presented by experts in information security, cybercrime, and privacy at its Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS). In recent years, the center has been making its seminars available as video podcasts. Over 50 seminars are available on a variety of topics, including publicâ''key cryptography and computer-assisted fraud.

The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe


Engineers are, by nature, often skeptical individuals who relish hard data. Yet our culture is deluged with pseudoscience, hoaxes, and outright fraud. IEEE Spectrum readers might enjoy, then, ”The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe,” created by the New England Skeptical Society and the James Randi Educational Foundation, both dedicated to investigating claims of the paranormal and pseudoscientific. Taking the form of an informal talk show, this weekly podcast covers such subjects as quack cures and the Armageddon theory du jour.

PHOTO: Jay Novella

You can download all these podcasts from their particular Web sites or from the iTunes Music Store. Don’t forget Spectrum Radio, IEEE Spectrum’s own regular podcast. If you have a suggestion for Podcast Picks, mail it to resources@ieee.org . Be sure to include ”Podcast Picks” in the subject line.

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