Holiday Book Show: Imagining Head-Smashed In, Becoming Batman, Caribou in the North

 

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Imagining Head-Smashed-In


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What if you, and perhaps a few friends, were dropped in the middle of a vast wilderness with nothing but a few sticks and some rocks. You would be surrounded by food, but mostly in the form of bad tempered, fast, violent beasts made of more than half a tonne of muscle. Good luck with dinner. However for thousands of years native people in North America hunted Bison with great success, armed only with the simplest of tools. Their secret was their knowledge, experience and wit which they used to find ways to outsmart the bison, and one of their most spectacular strategies was the buffalo jump. Jack Brink, the Curator of Archaeology at the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton, has spent his career trying to understand just how this could have worked, and he describes his research in his new book, Imagining Head-Smashed-In: Aboriginal Buffalo Hunting on the Northern Plains.

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Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero


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Ever wish you could leap a tall building in a single bound, zap super-villians with your laser vision or simply put the boots to no-good thugs? Well, you're not alone in your desire to be a superhero. Dr. Paul Zehr, a professor of Kinesiology and Neuroscience at the University of Victoria, has always wondered exactly what it would take to become one. Of course, there's only really one superhero that a normal human could feasiblely try to imitate: Batman! He doesn't have any supernatural skills -- just a lot of fancy gadgets, some serious martial arts skills and a burning desire to sweep Gotham's streets clean of crime. But just how realistic is a figure like Batman? Well, in his new book, Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero, Dr. Zehr argues that it is actually possible to whip yourself into Bat-shape. It's not so much a how-to guide, but a what-if guide. In it, Dr. Zehr explores the science behind the kind of training you'd have to do to achieve Bat-results, the kind of Bat-changes your body would undergo and the incredible amount of Bat-stress that comes with the job. The perfect read for aspiring superheroes.

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Caribou and the North


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If you were to ask people to name an iconic animal that truly symbolises Canada, most would name that old standby, the beaver. But according to Dr. Justina Ray, it really should be the caribou. Like Canadians, they are widely and thinly spread across our great landscape. They are rugged and adapted to life in a cold, hard country. Their history and future are intertwined with the life and culture of Canada's aboriginal people. And according to her new book, Caribou and the North, their conservation and their survival may tell us a lot about the future of our northern lands. As development spreads in Canada's North, with oil drilling, mining exploration, and spreading highways, the migration routes of the caribou herds are threatened, while climate change could be adversely affecting their major food source, the lichen. Dr. Ray is a wildlife ecologist and Executive Director of Wildlife Conservation Society Canada. The book is co-written with Monte Hummel.

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Question of the Week: Asteroid Impact on the Moon

Next week on the program, we have a special end-of-the-year treat for you - it's our annual award-winning, audience-pleasing, brain-teasing Quirks Holiday Question Show. And to whet your appetite - we have an extra question this week to give you a taste of what's to come. "What would be the effect on the Earth if a large asteroid hit the moon?" Dr. Brett Gladman, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of British Columbia, has the answer.



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