Quirks & Quarks with Bob McDonald


Dec 4: Xenobot self-replication, red light for declining vision, water from the solar wind and more…

Exploring the mind-body link, and Deaf in science: beyond the range of hearing.

Injectable gels could help repair heart tissue and spinal cord injuries

Bob McDonald’s blog: Advanced new bioengineered materials could be used to help difficult-to-repair tissues heal.

Robots made from living cells learned how to replicate themselves

Xenobots, which are "living robots" made of frog cells, are simple robots that can move autonomously in a petri dish. When scientists added more cells to the dish, the xenobots pushed them together to form new xenobots.

Exposure to deep red light could help offset age-related vision declines

Three minutes of exposure to a deep wave red LED can improve vision in patients with declining eyesight for about one week.

Solar wind and space dust may explain the presence of much of Earth's water

Researchers have found evidence that particles emitted by the sun may have combined with space dust on asteroids to contribute to our seas and oceans.

Probing the mind-body connection to learn how the brain controls immune responses

A new study found that a part of the brain called the insular cortex becomes active when inflammation arises in the body. Now, the researchers want to use molecular switches to control our inflammatory responses, helping people with conditions like IBS and psoriasis.

Deaf researchers are advancing the field of science — but barriers still hold many back

Deaf researchers are underrepresented in science, due to systemic barriers that discourage their participation. But as attitudes slowly change, they’re bringing their unique perspective to the lab and the field.

Snapping science, male pregnant seahorse placentas, astronauts in Labrador and more…

Slacklining, skateboarding robot, aerosol COVID and Maori soot in Antarctica.

Researchers studying finger snapping find it's 20 times faster than the blink of an eye

Inspired by Marvel's Infinity War, this study reveals why Thanos's epic finger snap in gauntlet is impossible, but it also tells us more about the biophysics of snapping than previously known.

Pregnant male seahorses grow a placenta to nurture their young

The seahorse dads' kangaroo-like brood pouch undergoes a transformation when they get pregnant so it can supply oxygen and nutrients to their young.

Why an ancient crater in Labrador is the perfect place for astronauts to train for a moon mission

Mistastin Lake Impact Crater, in northern Labrador, is considered to be one of the best places on Earth for astronauts to learn about the moon’s geology. Recently, astronauts spent two weeks hiking and camping in the crater to train for a potential moon mission.

An agile robot that can skateboard, slackline and even fly

CalTech’s human-like robot LEONARDO was able to walk a few years ago, but its unique combination of legs and drone-like propellers gives it remarkable abilities.

This Canadian physicist knew years ago that infections like COVID-19 could be airborne

Canadian physicist Lydia Bourouiba says her research showed in 2014 that the two-metre social distancing public health guidelines were outdated.

700 years ago Maori land clearing left a sooty signature in Antarctica, researchers find

Ice core samples suggest that human influence on the atmosphere goes back centuries before the industrial revolution.

Nov 20: Finding the COVID resistors, Herzberg gold medal winner, green glitter and more…

Smashing an asteroid, why we have ‘Useful Delusions,’ and mosquito size questions.

Running out of gas in B.C. underlines our dependence on fossil fuels

Bob McDonald's blog: An greener all-electric future could be less vulnerable to disruption.

Scientists are trying to find out why some people don't get COVID-19

Researchers are recruiting subjects who were exposed to COVID-19 and whose immune systems show no sign of encountering the coronavirus. The people who show resistance to infection could be the key to treatments in the future.

Trapping light earns physicist Sajeev John Canada's most prestigious science prize

University of Toronto physicist Sajeev John won Canada's top science price for 2021: the $1-million Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal.

Glitter comes in many colours, but these scientists are making a green alternative

Regular glitter can contaminate the environment thanks to the microplastics, metals and pigments that make its shimmering colours. Researchers in the UK have created a sustainable glitter made from plant fibre that is just as sparkly.

NASA is smashing a spacecraft into an asteroid to test a planetary defence system

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission will deliberately smash a spacecraft into an asteroid to see if it can be thrown off course.

Why 'Useful Delusions' can sometimes make us vulnerable to misinformation

The host of the Hidden Brain podcast argues in his book 'Useful Delusions: The Power and Paradox of the Self-Deceiving Brain' that in some contexts, delusions can be a good thing.

Why are mosquitoes larger in spring than in the fall?

Insects that develop in cold temperatures are frequently larger.

Nov 13: Vaccine prevents cervical cancer, Atacama comet evidence, bees sound the alarm and more…

Cane toad cannibalism and 100th anniversary of insulin.

Canadian VR technology will aid isolation effects on a simulated long duration space flight

Bob McDonald's blog: The virtual reality experience was designed to simulate the 'overview effect' that sparks a sense of awe in astronauts when they look down at Earth from space

HPV vaccine works 'remarkably well' to prevent cancer, according to UK study

Rates of cervical cancer dropped by 87 per cent in women who got the vaccine when they were 12 to 13 years old.