Quirks & Quarkswith Bob McDonald


May 8: Sounds of a predator, horses are well-diggers, grass defuses a toxic explosive and more…

Plastic from fish waste, animals mate with relatives, mastodon poop and pupillary variety.

Falling rocket booster points to lack of regulations on space junk

Bob McDonald's blog: There are no international laws to control potentially dangerous orbital debris.

Purring, fighting, chaos and crunching bones: these are the sounds of the Canada lynx

By attaching audio recorders to a top predator in the boreal forest, researchers were able to eavesdrop on Canada lynx as they slept, fought, and went on the hunt.

Wild donkeys and horses dig wells in the desert, and create a refuge for plants and animals

The animals dug up to a metre and a half in order to access groundwater in the arid environment.

Genetically modified grass can suck toxic explosives out of the ground

A new study has found that modifying two genes in switchgrass allows it to metabolize a toxic chemical compound in explosives.

Making the most of fish waste: how scientists transformed it into biodegradable plastic

Plentiful oil in the fish tissues is the basis of this new material.

Animals 'rarely avoid' mating with relatives, new study says

This discovery that animals rarely avoid with mating with kin has implications for animal conservation in the wild and breeding programs.

Digging into 75,000 year old mastodon dung to learn about ancient Nova Scotia

The team that discovered the poop said even the stench was preserved

Why do some animals have slit shaped pupils?

Animals have evolved different shaped pupils to serve purposes particular to their lifestyle, such better depth perception or enhanced night vision.

May 1: Lightning cleans the atmosphere, a 142 year - and counting - experiment and more…

Sea turtles ‘lost years’ found, finding the Mother Tree and why we cry

This mission to deep space could last a lifetime — or even more

Bob McDonald's blog: Planning a mission to be handed off to future generations represents wonderful foresight in science

Scientists shocked to discover how much lightning may clean the atmosphere

Lightning produces crucial chemical that helps break down atmospheric pollutants like methane and carbon monoxide.

Digging up 142-year-old seeds in the latest installment in the world's oldest experiment

Every 20 years, a small group of botanists go on a hunt to excavate a jar of seeds to continue a study looking into how long they can remain viable

Researchers solve the mystery of loggerhead turtle's lost years

Loggerhead sea turtles breed in Japan, but some cross the ocean to feed in Mexico. Now, researchers know how they make that trip — and why some stay behind.

A pioneering forest researcher's memoir describes 'Finding the Mother Tree'

Suzanne Simard has found that forest trees are connected with an underground circulatory system that allows them to communicate and share resources, and that 'Mother trees' are the most connected of all.

Why do we cry when we are sad?

The exact reasons why we cry are not fully understood but there are social and biological explanations

Apr 24: Mars helicopter, Narwhal tusks and pollution, T. rex in their billions and more…

Airborne COVID, and what we need to know about geoengineering

First breathable air produced on another planet

Bob McDonald's blog: An experiment on the Mars Perseverance rover produced oxygen from carbon dioxide sucked out of the thin Martian air.

How NASA built and flew the first helicopter to fly on another planet

MiMi Aung, the program manager for NASA's Ingenuity helicopter describes the historic first flight

The horn of the unicorn of the sea reveals a dirty secret about arctic pollution

Researchers can read Narwhal tusks like the rings in a tree trunk. And they're showing alarming concentrations of mercury as the climate warms.

Billions and billions of tyrannosaurs walked the Earth

Scientists arrived at the estimate by using calculations based on size, metabolism, and the populations of animals today.

Acknowledge COVID-19 is airborne, Lancet report urges as more evidence mounts

The COVID-19 coronavirus is predominantly spread through airborne transmission and it's time everyone acknowledges it, say researchers in a recent paper in the journal, The Lancet.

Scientists say we don't know enough about the potential of using geoengineering to fight climate change

Solar geoengineering is an unproven technique that could cool down the Earth by blocking out the sun, but there are huge unknowns and potential risks, say scientists.

Apr 17: Mother ants shrinking brains, boreal forest tree shifts, finding a new blue and more…

Airborne plastic pollution, and a new book looks at ‘Life’s Edge’

A new era of flight on other worlds

Bob McDonald's blog: Powered flight on Mars could be the first step to atmospheric flight on other planets or moons