The Best Podcasts for Curious Minds

It's a fair bet that the overwhelming majority of podcasts fit firmly in the entertainment sector, but there's plenty out there to listen to if you're looking to expand your worldview. Check out one of these five shows whenever you want to take a deep dive into something you may never have a chance to learn elsewhere.

1. TED Radio Hour

Since there are TED talks available on nearly every topic possible, you'll never have to worry about not being able to find something interesting to listen to. This incarnation of the TED brand is somewhat abbreviated, which makes it much easier to listen to while you're in the car or heading off to the gym. Curious-minded YouTube viewers who like watching TED talks may find that this is a convenient way to get the same experience even when they don't have an Internet connection.

2. 99 percent Invisible

Long-time radio producer Roman Mars talks about the most overlooked aspects of architecture and design on 99 Percent Invisible, which has become one of the most popular shows on iTunes today. In every episode, Mars focuses on a different design and invites a guest on to expound on the most interesting aspects of how it was made. Anyone who's ever looked at a building and wondered how it was put up will want to check this one out.

3. Mac Folklore Radio

While 99 Percent Invisible is perfect for getting the story on how big things were designed, you might also want to learn about the history behind the digital devices that let you listen to podcasts in the first place. Host Derek Warren reads vintage stories dating back to the dawn of the personal computer revolution that show just how far we've come. This podcast also includes an audio version of none other than Andy Hertzfeld's own folklore stories. If you've ever been curious about how and why your devices work the way they do, then this is for you.

4. Hacker Public Radio

Since HPR is a community podcast that invites listeners to submit their own shows, you never know what they'll discuss next. You'll learn everything from camping tips to how to set up a wireless modem, plus everything in-between. Chances are that you've come across crowd-sourced entertainment on countless platforms. These owe a debt of gratitude to the more than 3,000 episodes of HPR. It's been running since 2007 and looks to have a bright future.

5. Overheard at National Geographic

In spite of its name, Overheard at National Geographic is actually the official NatGeo podcast and it's structured almost like a condensed audio-only version of the magazine. While it might have a breezy format that allows the hosts to discuss whatever they'd like, you'll cover a huge cross-section of topics that include everything from the Mayan civilization to ancient graffiti in the city of Pompeii. Anything related to the natural sciences is fair game, which is why some educators have even started to use Overheard in their classrooms.