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Category: Culture

The Science Of Star Trek Aliens: Interview With Professor Mohamed Noor

This post is part of Geek Takeover Week 2020.

Professor Mohamed Noor bridges the best of both worlds in science and fiction – a resume that includes being the Dean of Natural Sciences at Duke University as well as a science consultant for Star Trek. In a Geek Takeover Week special episode of the foXnoMad Podcast, I spoke with Dr. Noor about aliens both real and imagined.

We talk about what Star Trek has gotten right as well as very, very wrong while clearing up a number of misconceptions about evolution, genetics, and DNA.

Those of you who travel to seek out new life and new civilizations will have a lot of fun listening to this episode. For a peek at Dr. Noor’s class at Duke, pick up a copy of his book Live Long and Evolve. You can also find him on YouTube at BioTrekkie Explains!

6 Science And Sci-Fi Podcasts For Travel

best sci-fi podcasts

This post is part of Geek Takeover Week 2020.

Podcasts are an ideal medium to deep dive into a topic and with so many these days (there’s even a foXnoMad Podcast ; ) you can find one for any nerdy subject. Whether you’re into sci-fi, television, or science these are podcasts sure to entertain you on your next trip.

1. The Delta Flyers

Star Trek Voyager fans will enjoy (still, probably) Ensign Harry Kim actor Garrett Wang and Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) going through each episode of the series one by one. The Delta Flyers has improved a lot over its first 10 episodes and the behind the scenes stories will amuse any Trek fan. McNeill’s directing insights are also interesting, particularly for anyone interested in cinematography.

2. The 7th Rule

Sticking with a Star Trek theme, The 7th Rule is a Deep Space Nine series re-watch. Originally started by Aron Eisenberg (Nog), Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko), and hosted by Ryan T. Husk, the podcast has continued and evolved into a tribute of Eisenberg’s life since he passed away in 2019. Lofton and Husk are still going through DS9 episodes weekly, often with guests, plus put on the first ever Virtual Trek Con last month. The 7th Rule also has active weekly live sessions on YouTube open to everyone.

3. StarTalk Radio

Hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and one of several comedian co-hosts, they cover all things science. StarTalk Radio also features guests like Captain Kirk – I mean William Shatner – but the most fun segments are the Q&A cosmic queries.

4. The Vergecast

A great podcast to catch up on the week’s top tech news, The Vergecast breaks it down for technology enthusiasts as well as most casual listeners as well.

5. Talking Sopranos

Having a blend of actors, directors, and writers on the show all about the show Sopranos makes listening to each episode about an episode fascinating. Honestly, Talking Sopranos sounds like it would be a dull concept but it’s very entertaining and has only improved with time.

6. Battlestar Galacticast

Bru, if you love science fiction but haven’t seen Battlestar Galactica, get on that now. Actor Tricia Helfer and TV writer/journalist Marc Bernardin breakdown each episode in order – but warning – it’s best to watch the series first. Battlestar Galacticast is not a spoiler-free zone and trust me, BSG is one you don’t want preemptively ruined.

Honorable Mention: Alone Together

DS9 fans desperate for new material, well Doctor Bashir, Garak, and a few others from the show are putting out a video series of fan fiction. Yes, Alexander Siddig and Andrew Robinson reprise their roles in Alone Together – it’s all on YouTube but acts more as listening material. Perfect for a road trip to the Gamma Quadrant or visit to the Fire Caves on Bajor.

There’s a lot of content here for any trip long or short, to varying degrees of nerdiness. What are some of your favorite podcasts to load up before you hit the road, take to the subway, or head to the airport?

Teach Or Be Tutored In New Languages Online Using Preply

This post is sponsored by Preply. [What is this?]


Preply is an online tutoring service you can use to take (socially distanced) language classes with a live tutor or apply to become a tutor yourself to earn a side income. When Preply got in touch we took a look at the service from both sides, taking a French class as well as communicating with tutors to get their feedback.

What Is Preply?

Essentially, Preply is an online school where you can work with a live tutor one-on-one to take customized languages classes. During the sign up process, which is free with an account, you tell the system the language you want to learn, current proficiency, as well as the reason for learning (e.g. career. travel, etc.). Additionally you set your available times, hourly budget (prices vary but average $15-40), as well as how many lessons per week you want to take.

how preply works

You’ll be given a short language test to verify proficiency before you’re given a choice of tutors. The entire setup takes around 10 minutes. For tutors, on their side of the setup, parameters are nearly the same.

How It Works

As you’re looking through some of the recommended tutors you can see their native tongue, proficiency levels in other languages, plus a small blurb about them. Each tutor is also required to provide a short video introducing themselves on their profile so you can get a better idea of their personality as well.

preply language classes

Preply has a built-in messaging system for (potential and current) students and teachers as well as a reminder system, emailing before lessons.

Preply Experience

A lot of how Preply works is based on its tutor base, which for most languages numbers in the hundreds. The ratings and reviews left by other users can also help you narrow down your search for the right tutor. Once you’ve set on a particular teacher for a lesson, they’ll create a custom lesson plan to help you reach your language goal. Built into Preply is a video system so you connect through your account on the site and converse live with your teacher; plus see any slides or media they’ve prepared.


There’s no set commitment to a particular tutor so if you want to change after a few lessons, you’re free to do so. Being live interaction with a tutor one-on-one lets them craft individual classes for you specifically and gives you plenty of opportunity to ask questions. Preply Space is another feature the platform uses to connect students and tutors, giving both access to a private chat space, plus a study room of sorts where saved lesson plans can be found.

Side Income For Tutors

For tutors, Preply opens a way to generate a side income completely online. Tutors set their hourly rates, typically the more experience and regular students one has the higher the rate they can set. Top tutors can also potentially be selected for corporate language training program to earn more.

The flexibility of setting rates and competitive space among tutors gives them a better chance to earn money by teaching languages to people online and gives students a lot of information on choosing the ideal teacher for them. Connecting with native speakers through Preply can also give you insight into cultural aspects of a language like slang for example, boosting your confidence to practically apply all you’ve learned.

The Single Best Piece Of Advice For Travelers To India

Traveling in India can be the most frustrating and amazing experience, often at the same time, but there’s one piece of advice that will let you appreciate the entire experience. During a recent episode of the foXnoMad Podcast, my guest Cristina Boronat summed up eloquently a lesson to take with you before visiting India.

The travelers who end up hating India miss this key wisdom Cristina gleaned from years of experience in the country, which you should watch in the video here.

What It’s Like Traveling As A Woman In Pakistan

Pakistan is not a particularly common travel destination (on par with Ivory Coast by tourists annually) and for many reading this, that isn’t surprising. What may be even more surprising is that tourism to Pakistan has tripled since 2018, attracting adventurous travelers intrigued by a less visited destination.

Since I wrote about what it’s like traveling in Pakistan, many of you asked what it would be like for a woman traveling there? To give a firsthand answer to the question, I recently spoke with Ellie Quinn who joined me on an episode of the foXnoMad Podcast you can listen to here.

Ellie traveled to Pakistan overland from India and shared what that border crossing was like, how to dress, plus vividly describes the country’s northern mountains. She enjoyed her time in Pakistan so much, Ellie’s begun running tours there if you’re up for your own adventure.

We also spoke about the differences between traveling in India verses Pakistan as a woman in an interesting and enlightening conversation you’ll learn a lot from. You can watch the full episode here, download here to listen, and find Ellie on YouTube and Instagram.

Plovdiv’s Roman Theater Sees Time And Use In Bulgaria Today

plovdiv roman theater bulgaria

All the world’s a stage, some stages though their own players, over time, playing many parts. Built in the first century AD at the height of the Roman Empire, Plovdiv’s Roman theater has hosted plays, gladiator fights, and more recently, metal concerts. Rumored to have been damaged by Attila the Hun (evidence is scant) and later buried by landslides, its discovery again in the early 1970s is a second act worth visiting.

Bulgaria is full of these lesser known historical sites, like Asen’s Fort, which are visually impressive in blending city and nature. Plovdiv’s Roman theater is in center of Bulgaria‘s second largest city of the same name – one of many potential day trips from the capital Sofia. Photos are possible from the gates above but its worth an entry ticket to wander around inside, sitting for a moment to contemplate what these seats have witnessed.

Don’t forget to walk down to the bottom looking to the sides of the stages where there are some small areas to explore. A few inscriptions remain; where various residents should sit and reservations for important people long since passed into oblivion.


About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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