4 Reasons to Listen to DARPA's New Podcast

Geek out.

Getty Images / Chip Somodevilla

DARPA’s got a podcast.

The futuristic government agency’s program managers are always working on something slightly mind-bending, so Voices of DARPA is there to help the general public understand what exactly what’s going on, and, in the process, maybe make advanced research a bit more approachable.

“The goal of Voices from DARPA is to share with listeners some of the institutional know-how, vision, process, and history that together make the ‘secret sauce’ DARPA has been adding to the nation’s innovation ecosystem for nearly 60 years,” the agency announced Tuesday.

Voices of DARPA’s first episode features Tyler McQuade, a program manager at the agency’s Defense Sciences Office, where he works on high-tech programs with playful names like Agnostic Compact Demilitarization of Chemical Agents (ACDC) or Local Control of Materials Synthesis (LoCo). You can listen to the episode here:

What, you remain unconvinced? Here are four reasons we like it:

4. It’s easy to understand.

Even though McQuade’s working on advanced sciences, the interview is simple enough for anyone to follow. McQuade and his interviewer aren’t discussing the specifics of molecular science; they’re breaking down some of the cool things happening at DARPA without getting bogged down in highfalutin science jargon. If you know what a molecule is, you’ll follow what McQuade is talking about.

3. It humanizes DARPA.

“[W]e at DARPA just want to share the pleasure we all have every day — in the elevator, in the halls, in our meeting rooms — as we learn from each other and swap ideas and strive to change what’s possible,” reads the announcement issued on Tuesday. This podcast could help people realize that even an agency known for its futuristic research is staffed by real people who like to geek out about this kind of stuff.

2. It offers a glimpse into the future.

At the same time, DARPA is working on cutting-edge technologies. The agency isn’t shy about showing off its research — that’s why it announces things like an artificial intelligence hacking challenge or takes over museums — and this podcast is another way for it to share its work with the world.

1. It’s a pretty well-done podcast.

This first episode of Voices of DARPA is just over 14 minutes long. Besides some grating introduction music, it’s actually rather well produced: The voices are clear, the conversation is smooth, and it never overstays its welcome. A longer podcast might appeal to some, but for anyone who just wants a quick look into what’s happening in one of the nation’s premier research agencies, this is just right.

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