Quirks & Quarkswith Bob McDonald


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

These ants shrink their brains for motherhood — but can also grow them back

Indian jumping ants are rare in that the workers can reproduce. But there's a catch: they have to give up 25 per cent of their brain to do it.

Intense boreal forest fires may change tree species, and lead to more carbon uptake

As boreal forests recover from unusually intense wildfires in places like Alaska, they are experiencing a shift in tree species from black spruce to deciduous trees like aspen and birch.

'Where's the blue food?' Scientists find source for natural blue food dye in red cabbage

A natural alternative to blue food dye has been very challenging to find because nature doesn't provide a lot of options

Tonnes of microplastic are soaring into the atmosphere from roads, oceans and fields

Discarded plastic fragments into dust-like particles, which can be carried for days in the atmosphere and circulate around the globe.

Contemplating what it means to be alive in the new book 'Life's Edge'

The line between alive and dead is often murky, argues New York Times' science columnist Carl Zimmer

Coyotes doing well in the city, asteroid impact created rainforests, the minimal organism and more…

Elephant seals fear of the light and why warmer springs could mean earlier falls

Suggestions of a new force echo the ancient quest for fundamental elements

Bob McDonald's blog: The quest to understand the nature of matter and reality is ancient — and continuing

How coyotes have managed to find success in the city like no other predator

Coyote sightings are up during lockdowns. But ecologists say that the urbanization of coyotes is a larger story that's been unfolding over several decades. 

The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs might have created the rainforests

The tropical rainforests we see today in South America might not have flourished had it not been for the asteroid that struck Earth 66 million years ago.