Quirks & Quarkswith Bob McDonald


Nov 30: Tipping into climate catastrophe, blue whale heartbeat, thinking twice on fake news and more…

A swift-swimming tunabot and the life of an ‘under-wolf’
Bob McDonald's blog

Astronomers anxious about plans to launch thousands of new satellites

New constellations of communications satellites could obscure the stars

Climate scientists warn we're on the precipice of disastrous 'tipping points'

Slow temperature changes could 'tip over' into catastrophic, fast and irreversible transformations

Thar she beats! The challenge of measuring a blue whale's pulse

A researcher channels his inner Ahab to attach a heart monitor to the world's largest animal

Think twice about posting once — breaking the fake news cycle

People share fake news less when they're prompted to think about its accuracy

Imitating a swift-swimming fish helps researchers build a speedy 'tunabot'

The tunabot can swim four body lengths per second, making it one of the fastest bio-inspired underwater robots.

The triumphant life of an 'under-wolf' in Yellowstone

Wolf researcher Rick McIntyre's book tell the story of one of the first reintroduced wolves in Yellowstone park

Nov 23: Psychedelics and 'waking-dreams,' adding feeling to virtual reality, the greatest ape and more…

AI learns how music affects us, foreign accent syndrome and the latitude of venomous animals.
Bob McDonald's blog

Yet another claim that someone's seen life on Mars

It's easy to be fooled by fuzzy images of rocks with interesting shapes and tricks of sunlight and shadow.

The psychedelic DMT modifies brain waves to produce 'waking-dreams'

DMT is so powerful it creates a ‘sense of entering other realities or dimensions that feel more real in this reality.’

New device adds a sense of touch to virtual reality

VR has typically worked with sight and sound, but we may be soon playing computer games with feeling

The greatest ape — an extinct, half-ton monster — now has its place on our family tree

Gigantopithecus might have been 3m tall and 600kg, but left behind minimal remains, but a new technique has allowed us to understand how it's related to other apes

Machines on music — AI helps figure out how music tickles your brain and your body

Researchers studied how musical features affected the brain, body and emotional response

'Now I have a lovely Scottish brogue' — The science behind foreign accent syndrome

People who suddenly start speaking with a foreign accent are rare, making it hard to investigate. A recent study by doctors and linguists offers insight into its triggers and what we're really hearing.

Why are there fewer venomous animals in colder climates?

Most venomous animals are ectotherms or cold-blooded animals such as snakes, spiders and jellyfish. Since they're unable to regulate their own temperature, fewer are found in cooler climates.

Nov 16: Watching wildfire with radar, the return of race science and more…

Laundry and microplastic, submarines for your bloodstream and oxygen for airplanes
Bob McDonald's blog

Get some sleep, and get your brain washed

One new study showed a way the brain, during deep sleep, could be cleansing itself of toxic waste. Sadly, our busy lifestyles and addiction to devices is making deep sleep more rare.

New high-powered radar gives scientists a 3D view of wildfires in real time

The radar allows scientists to track activity inside fires to better predict and fight them

The return of race science — the quest to fortify racism with bad biology

A new book offers a timely exploration of the re-emergence of 'scientific' attempts to explain perceived racial differences

Your laundry and plastic pollution — which fabrics shed the most microplastics

Hint: You may not love your polar fleece jacket as much after you read this

Tiny submarines could make a 'fantastic voyage' into our bodies

Microscale vessels, powered by acoustic waves and oscillating bubbles, may one day carry medicine to precise locations inside the human body

How do high-flying airplanes get enough oxygen for their engines

Airplane engines are designed to efficiently extract oxygen out of thin air in order to keep them running at high altitudes.

Nov 9: Lionfish are super digesters, Voyager 2 goes interstellar, carbon capture and more …

AI reads scientific literature, fear, trauma and inheritance and animal heart attacks
Bob McDonald's blog

'We sent a spaceship to the stars!'

NASA's Voyager 2 passed into interstellar space 41 years after its launch.

The lionfish is an Olympic athlete of digestion — and that's an ecological disaster

An invasive fish outcompetes rivals by beating them at eating.