The Intelligent Life podcast

The Intelligent Life podcast

United States

Intelligent Life is the award-winning bi-monthly culture and lifestyle magazine from The Economist


How a missing second could cause chaos  

Almost every year since 1972 has contained a 61-second minute. In this podcast Tom Whipple joins Matthew Sweet to discuss where these “leap seconds” come from and why we should be worried about them

Checking in to the Hotel Antarctica  

The most forbidding corner of the world is now taking guests. In this podcast, our travel editor Sophy Roberts talks about what it was like to spend a week in Antarctica as a tourist, and explains why the continent is as much an idea as it is a place on the map

How Marine Le Pen caught the politics bug  

To the leader of the nationalistic revival sweeping Europe, politics is like a virus: "Once you have it, you can never get away from it." In this podcast, The Economist's Paris correspondent Sophie Pedder examines the rise of Marine Le Pen, discusses her transformation of the National Front party, and explains why it's simplistic to call her a racist

Adrian Wooldridge: Reluctant Global Citizen  

Modern-day travel becomes more irritating by the day, just like globalisation. In this podcast, our jaded new columnist gripes about life in an age of hyper-connectivity – and travels to the country of the future

How to get into Harvard...from Beijing  

In the last decade, the number of Chinese students enrolling in American colleges has quintupled. On this podcast, Brook Larmer talks about why – despite fears of westernisation – the Chinese elite wants its children to study in America, and the lengths parents will go to in order to guarantee admission

How to have a good death  

As we live longer, death gets pushed further to the fringes of our lives. In this podcast, Maggie Fergusson discusses how our relationship with death is changing, the question of assisted dying, and how she might face her own end

A walk on America's wild side  

Having journeyed through South Dakota's Badlands in countless westerns, Simon Barnes was determined to hear the coyote chorus for himself. He talks to Matthew Sweet about the history of the National Parks, their impact on American culture, and how they are now wilder than ever

The world according to ABBA  

They are usually associated with kitsch and white bell bottoms. But ABBA’s life and work are darker and more complicated than we often think. In this podcast, Matthew Sweet discusses their sophistication, their museum and their philosophy

The wonder of quasars  

Their light takes billions of years to reach us, and they are bigger than whole solar systems. But science hasn’t just understood quasars, it has found a use for them. In this podcast, our science columnist Oliver Morton explains how they help us navigate our own planet

The scariest thing in cinema  

In this podcast, our film critic Tom Shone joins Matthew Sweet to discuss how audiences influence film directors from Woody Allen to Michael Haneke – a relationship that is sometimes warm, sometimes cold, and sometimes violent

What we talk about when we talk about sport  

These days, sports commentary boxes are filled with former players. But they’re not always as good behind the mic as they were on the field. In this podcast, our sports columnist Ed Smith – a professional cricketer turned broadcaster – joins Matthew Sweet to discuss the psychology behind excellence in sport, and how it’s the opposite of what you need as an analyst of the game

The fashion for fauxstalgia  

In our November/December issue, the fashion writer Luke Leitch writes about modern menswear. In this podcast, he joins Matthew Sweet to discuss why 21st-century New Yorkers dress like 1950s forest rangers, why designers yearn for authenticity, and why sportswear is the style of the future

The Anthropocene: leaving our geological mark  

In our November/December issue, Helen Gordon examines a new geological era: the Anthropocene. In this podcast she joins Matthew Sweet to discuss why some geologists don't believe in it, what it means for the arts as well as science, and how she time-travelled with the help of some ancient ice

John Burnside on the masks of Ensor  

In our September/October issue, John Burnside revisits the House of Ensor in Ostend, Belgium—the site of a transformative family holiday from his youth. In this podcast he joins Matthew Sweet to discuss masks: Ensor's, and those we all wear

The world’s greatest jeweller  

In our September/October issue, Isabel Lloyd profiles Joel Arthur Rosenthal, widely regarded as the greatest jeweller in the world, and certainly the most mysterious. In this podcast she joins Matthew Sweet to talk about what she found when she entered his hidden world, and the real man behind the myth

Living with cancer  

In her memoir in our September/October issue, Jo Lennan writes about being diagnosed with cancer in her thirties. In this podcast, she joins Matthew Sweet to talk about what she learnt along the way, about illness as metaphor, and about how this is a genomic era of cancer research

Randy Newman, to irony and beyond  

Tim de Lisle joins Matthew Sweet to talk about Randy Newman, the writer of sardonic songs like “You Can Leave Your Hat On” as well as the soundtracks for the “Toy Story” movies. De Lisle followed him from Vienna to Los Angeles for his profile in our September/October issue and found a man who, like his music, is ironic, characterful, curmudgeonly and warm-hearted

In Welsh Patagonia  

After years of idle dreams, Jasper Rees visited the valleys in Argentina that have been an outpost of Wales for 150 years. He joins Matthew Sweet to talk about keeping a language and a culture alive 7,000 miles from home

The lightning inside us  

Our science columnist, Oliver Morton, joins Matthew Sweet to talk about the energy flows in our cells. They are as strong as lightning, they explain why things age, and they give us a new way to understand life itself

Harry Potter and the mental furniture  

They were the stories that gripped a generation. So what imprint did they leave on young minds? In this episode, Matthew Sweet is joined by the novelist Katherine Rundell to talk about what influence they had on her

Video player is in betaClose