Quirks & Quarks with Bob McDonald


July 02: Best of Quirks & Quarks - Summer Science Special

Whether it was canoeing on acid lakes, being bumped by belugas, or rescuing equipment from grizzlies, scientists across Canada were busy during the summer of 2021.

June 25: The Quirks & Quarks listener question show

Why don't humans have a tail? Why is bird poop white? Why can't we remember our early years? What happens when you die in space? And much, much more

Jun 18: Black Death origins, chicken domestication, the life of a mastodon and more…

Elephant seal whiskers and ‘The Secret Perfume of Birds’

Moth wings could inspire a new generation of soundproofing material

Bob McDonald's blog: The moth's wings can absorb up to 87% of incoming sound, a handy trait when being hunted by a bat

The Black Death was history's most lethal plague. Now scientists say they know where it started

Gravestones in a cemetery in Kyrgyzstan, several years before the plague broke out in Eurasia and Africa, identified people who died of a "pestilence." Their remains preserved microbial DNA from the bacteria that bore the genetic fingerprint of the Black Death.

Jun 11: Music from the cosmos, thunderbird extinction, Hubble gets the big picture and more…

Invasive species and climate change and the natural history of sound.

Hopes for a new generation of electric hydrofoils — a tech with Canadian roots

Bob McDonald's blog: Swedish study finds hydrofoil technology could reduce consumption of fossil fuels used in ships by no less than 80 per cent.

Jun 4: Baby parrot babbling, a supernova stone, buzzing bats mimic hornets and more…

Scallops attracted by disco lights and why mushrooms are ‘world makers’

Tom Cruise goes hypersonic in new Top Gun movie, but doing it in real life is a challenge

Bob McDonald's blog: The movie's fictional Darkstar aircraft is based on historical innovations in hypersonic flight

Scientists discover wild baby parrots babble like human babies

Researchers have discovered that baby parrots babble, much like human babies do. The parrots aren't just saying the avian equivalent of goo-goo-ga-ga. Instead, they're repeating back the bird sounds they've already heard from adults and fellow babies. 
Q & A

A Canadian researcher makes the case for admiring the mighty mushroom

"What A Mushroon Lives For: Matsutake and the Worlds They Make" is the new book by anthropology professor Michael Hathaway

May 28: Flying salamanders, headbutting animals and brain damage, undersea cable sensors and more…

Secrets of plant survival, why sharks matter and marine mammals and storms.

As NASA plans for Mars, Canada works to keep Mars voyagers healthy

Bob McDonald's blog: A priority for Canadian space science, remote medicine, will allow us to keep astronauts healthy on a Mars mission, and has important applications in remote areas on Earth as well.

These salamanders skydive from the world's tallest trees, new study finds

Wandering salamanders skydive to move around in their habitat at the top of the world's tallest trees. A new study looked at their skills by testing them in a miniature indoor skydiving facility.

Swimming with sharks and debunking misinformation — all part of the job of a shark scientist

With shark and ray populations having declined 71 per cent over the last 50 years, a new book by David Shiffman says it's time for humans to stop being afraid of sharks — and instead, we should be afraid of losing them. 

May 21: Losing sleep over climate change, growing plants in lunar soil, trilobite sex and more…

The sound of biodiversity loss, carbon emissions and medical care and a question of blowing air.

Time to consider the impact of rocket exhausts on the atmosphere

Bob McDonald's blog: Researchers analyze how frequent future rocket launches could significantly impact the Earth's climate

Hot nights are disrupting our sleep — and climate change is making it worse, study finds

A new study analyzing the sleep data for thousands of people worldwide has found that we’re getting less sleep as nighttime temperatures increase, and it’s only going to get worse with climate change.

May 14: Ancient oyster mounds, seagrass' sweet secret, saving the Mekong delta and more…

Reading minds to produce sound and next-gen COVID-19 vaccines

Europe's space agency needs your eyeballs to study a comet

Bob McDonald's blog: Human eyes are really good at spotting subtle changes on a comet's surface from various viewpoints

Indigenous people harvested huge amounts of oysters sustainably through history, study finds

A recent study shows that for thousands of years, Indigenous peoples were harvesting tonnes of oysters sustainably. Researchers say this shows that it’s possible to do large-scale harvesting without harming ecosystems.

May 7: Endangered tiny porpoise, Mars-quakes, thermal batteries and more…

Bloodworm's metal fangs, finding alternatives to animal experimentation and why does coal release mercury?

Join astronomers under the stars to appreciate the magnificence of our universe

Bob McDonald's blog: May 7 is the unofficial holiday Astronomy Day, and stargazers around the world will be marking the day with public events.

Meet the Canadian researcher determined to take the animals out of lab testing

A growing number of scientists are calling for an end to the "gold standard" of animal experimentation, because not does it come with ethical concerns, increasingly it may no longer the best way to get results, thanks to technological advances that can replicate human biology for testing drugs and chemicals.

Apr 30 - Avian flu outbreak, prehistoric art and firelight, the dingo genome and more…

Joggers save calories, Canada’s space tourist and what tsunamis do to marine life