Quirks & Quarkswith Bob McDonald


Chemical weapon science, exploding ants and more

PLUS - Fish with switchblade faces and the unknowns of oil spills.

A scientific history of chemical weapons

Human Rights Watch has documented 85 chemical weapons attacks in Syria since 2013

Kamikaze ants blow themselves up and cover their victims with killer slime

When this ant is threatened by another species it explodes and releases a toxic substance that kills its attacker

Deep-diving 'sea nomads' have evolved an internal scuba tank

Enlarged spleens full of oxygen-rich red blood cells enable safer diving

Trans Mountain spill 'could have significant impacts' says Canadian government scientist

What science has to say about the risks of a bitumen spill

One of the most venomous fish in the ocean also has switchblade eyes

In a display of unique defensive specialization, the stonefish carries switchblade knives on the sides of its head

Why doesn't life continue to spontaneously occur around hydrothermal vents in the ocean?

Life on Earth began as a series of unique processes that resulted in a constant evolution that continues today

Arctic salt lake, eyebrow communication, and creating Captain America

Also on this week's episode: hummingbird songs, and the double-edged sword of aerosol reduction.
Bob McDonald's blog

Earth's climate: running hot and cold

"We are picking on the climate with our carbon emissions, and it is affecting everything else in the system in more ways than one."

Newly discovered salt lakes in Canadian Arctic help us understand Jupiter's moons

Scientists never expected to find two lakes under a glacier in below freezing temperatures.

Why humans ditched the mono brow — for two eyebrows

At some point in our evolution, we traded a large brow ridge for more mobile eye brows.

How close are we to creating a real-life super soldier?

In his latest book Chasing Captain America, author and University of Victoria professor Dr. E. Paul Zehr looks at the super soldier's abilities and the real-life research that could replicate them.

Hummingbirds 'sing' with their tail feathers to impress the females

The love song of a hummingbird uses aerial displays of speed and grace.

Catch-22: polluting aerosols cool the Earth, removing them warms it

The rise in global climate change has been mitigated inadvertently by another man-made activity: aerosol pollution.

Can we make veggies winter hardy like daffodil plants?

Different plant species have different tolerances to cold due to many years of acclimation to different temperature environments.

April 7, 2018 - Microplastics contaminate land, a four-eyed lizard, dark matter goes missing

Also coffee and pot, the science of luck, CRISPR study retracted, and do trees radiate heat?

Scientists worry microplastics found on farmers' fields could end up in our food

Tiny fragments of plastic are being found in oceans, freshwater and on agricultural land.
Bob McDonald's blog

2001: A Space Odyssey is 50 — where are the space hotels?

The influential SF film's predictions are closer than ever to becoming reality.

Why a lizard from 49 million years ago had four eyes

A 49-million-year-old fossil tells the story of a lizard with two eyes for vision and two extra eyes for geographic orientation.

A strange new kind of galaxy has no dark matter, and we don't know why

Dark matter usually makes up most of the mass of a galaxy - but this strange galaxy has none.

Wake 'n' bake - what caffeine and cannabis have in common

Coffee puts the neurotransmitters of the endocannabinoid system in low gear, while cannabis ramps them up.

How you can use the science of luck to change your fortunes

Luck happens as a result of probability, statistics and random chance — with a little persistence and hard work thrown in to the mix.

Nature retracts CRISPR 'bull in a china shop' paper about gene editing

The original study suggested the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system caused hundreds of unintended off-target mutations.

Do trees radiate heat?

To maintain energy balance in the leaves, they have to dissipate a lot of the sun's incoming energy as heat.

March 31, 2018: A new human internal organ, tolerating extreme cold, volcanic Christianity, and more

Also on this week's episode: on the hunt for Indigenous crops, using tailpipe tech to make bacon safer, and what causes pruney fingers?