Quirks & Quarkswith Bob McDonald


Jan 16: Snake lasso climbing, seeing gravitational waves with pulsars, soil compaction and more

What land should we protect to reach 30% and electric eels hunt in packs.

Robotic dogs and fish could help explore deeper into other worlds

Bob McDonald's blog: Robotic animals could boldly go where wheeled rovers can't

Snakes tie themselves in knots to climb up slippery poles after endangered prey

The invasive brown tree snake slithered like no-one had ever seen before, using a technique researchers called 'lasso locomotion'

Astronomers use spinning stars as cosmic lighthouses to help detect gravitational waves

Astronomers are on the verge of detecting gravitational waves from interactions between pairs of enormous supermassive black holes in galaxies up to halfway across the universe.

Heavy machinery is compacting agricultural soils. Can we persuade plants to put up with it?

Compacted soils are a huge issue for farmers, and have been shown to reduce crop yields by up to 60%. But new research is showing that plants can actually push through these hard soils, they just choose not to

Canada committed to protecting 30% of our territory by 2030. Which 30% should it be?

Scientists say we need to consider biodiversity and what ecosystems can do for us when it comes to which territory is important to protect.

'Shocking' electric eel pack-hunting behaviour discovered in the Amazon

Pack behaviour is common in mammals like lions and wolves, but scientists had always believed electric eels were solitary animals — until now

Jan 9: COVID-19 and fighting viral evolution, ice-age wolf pup and more…

How jellyfish swim so efficiently and how to do online learning to make education better

Apollo landing sites now protected by U.S. law, but what about the flags?

Bob McDonald's blog: Fading flags open the question of how to preserve the legacy of the landings.

New COVID variants: what's driving the virus to evolve, and what we can do about it

The rampant spread of COVID-19 and concern about potentially more transmissible variants of the virus from the U.K. and South Africa has scientists concerned about whether or not vaccines will hold up against these strains.

A 60,000 year-old frozen wolf cub paints a picture of ice age life

The beautifully preserved pup was only seven weeks old when its den collapsed and sealed it in

Jellyfish are the ocean's most efficient swimmers - here's how they do it

The animals create special vortexes in the water which act like a wall they can push against

An online learning expert explains how the COVID crisis might help change education for the better

In a new book, the head of Open Learning at MIT explores the science of learning, and explains how we've been doing it all wrong.

Jan 2: Listener question show — we answer your science questions

Where are the missing dinosaurs, why does cold make you pee, do insects feel pain and much more.

Dec 26: Our producers' favourite stories of 2020

Tickling rats, the power of swearing, amazing awakening, squat don't sit, woodpecker wars and more

Tickling rats to improve animal — and scientists' — welfare

Researchers are listening in on rat giggles, and that’s a good thing for all kinds of science.

Unlocking the secrets of jumbo squid hibernation might improve human medicine

Jumbo squid switch off almost half of their overall metabolism when they hibernate on a daily basis

An 'awakening' moment: sleeping pill restores function to brain-injured patient

A young man with a rare condition called "akinetic mutism" — who could not move or talk — came to life again for a brief time, say researchers. Now doctors see a path to making his recovery permanent.

The science of why bad words feel so good during painful moments

Fake swear words like ‘fouch’ and ‘twizpipe’ just can’t compete with the f-word when it comes to helping people tolerate pain

In lethally violent 'woodpecker wars' some birds fight, and some just come for the show

Coalitions of acorn woodpeckers battle for the opportunity to breed

Dec 19: Quirks & Quarks holiday book show

How chance shaped life on Earth, visiting a black hole and a new appreciation for Neanderthals

COVID-19 in 2020 showed science and society in action

Bob McDonald's blog: The pandemic gave rise to unprecedented global scientific cooperation to combat the greatest health threat of our lives. Here's a look back at how it all unfolded. 

Do you feel lucky? A biologist explains we exist because of 'A Series of Fortunate Events'

Sean B. Carroll argues that understanding the randomness of the geological and chemical processes that gave rise to life as we know it can be perspective-changing

A 'Black Hole Survival guide' and your brief life in a paradox of space and time

In a new book, physicist Janna Levin takes the reader on a virtual adventure through the cosmos, to experience what it would be like to travel to - and into - a black hole.

A new book about our 'Kindred,' the Neanderthals, puts to rest the brutish image

Archaeologist and writer Rebecca Wragg Sykes on her new book 'Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art'