Quirks & Quarks with Bob McDonald


Oct 23: Vikings in Newfoundland, new rocks from the moon, making wood better and more…

LED streetlights suppress caterpillars, milk and migration and when humans improved the horse.

Want to pitch in to help discover unknown planets?

Bob McDonald's blog: Astronomers with the Next Generation Transit Survey are looking for volunteers to help comb through telescope data looking for the tell-tale light signature of exoplanets.

New research shows the Vikings were in Newfoundland exactly 1,000 years ago

Precision dating of artifacts from L’anse Aux Meadows pinpoints the earliest year that Vikings could possibly have been active in North America at 1021CE.

Rocks from Chang'e-5 sample return mission reveal a younger side of the moon

The Chinese Chang'e-5 mission returned the first lunar samples to Earth in over 40 years, and scientists are just beginning to unpack the treasure trove of information buried within.

Scientists have found a way to harden wood to make a knife that rivals steel

Researchers have 'densified' wood using chemistry and pressure to make it 23 times harder, and used it to make a knife that is three times sharper than traditional stainless steel.

Streetlights — especially new LEDs — can drastically reduce caterpillar numbers

A recent study looking at how artificial light affects insects in England showed that areas lit by streetlights showed much fewer caterpillars living therein, and eco-friendly LED streetlights fared worse than traditional sodium lights.

Milk may have been the fuel that enabled a major human migration

Milk not only does a body good, but likely powered a massive expansion of people from an area north of the Black and Caspian Seas to Europe and Mongolia 5,000 years ago

Whoa Nelly! Modern horses come from ancestors we improved 4,000 years ago

Scientists have determined that the ancestors of modern horses were bred on the steppes of central Eurasia.

How can tiny frogs make so much noise?

Frogs make such a loud sound thanks to a unique vocalization process

Oct 16: Fecal transplants a fountain of youth, supernova on repeat, bee dancing reveals foraging habits and mo

Tracking narwhal by their ‘fluke-prints,’ and how forgetting benefits the mind

Contemplating the emotional side of spaceflight

Bob McDonald's blog: Actor William Shatner's nakedly emotional response to his sub-orbital flight is a welcome reminder of the perspective-changing potential of a trip to space.

Fecal transplants from young mice are like a 'fountain of youth' for old mice, study finds

It might not be the fountain of youth we've dreamed of, but experiments in mice suggest one possible, if distasteful, path to rejuvenation: a dose of the microbial ecosystem from the gut of a healthy youngster.

How a trick of the light helps scientists spot the same supernova again and again

10 billion years ago, a star exploded. And because of a strange optical phenomenon in which a galaxy can bend and magnify the explosion's light, the Hubble Telescope managed to capture the supernova three separate times.

Dancing bees reveal that U.K. cities offer more accessible food than the countryside

In a new study, researchers decoded honeybees' waggle dances to determine how far they have to travel to find food. Bees in agricultural areas have to travel twice as far as those living in the 'concrete jungle' of downtown London, according to the research.

Narwhals leave infrared 'fluke-prints' in the ocean that can be seen with aerial cameras

Researchers accidentally discovered a method that will allow them to track the elusive whales

A memory researcher explores the science — and value — of forgetting

Dr. Scott Small's new book suggests forgetting is a key to human cognition and happiness.

Oct 9: Nobel prize winners in physics and chemistry, a super hot planet with calcium wind and more …

Burying CO2 in the deep sea, a sunscreen for the Great Barrier reef and walking water bears

Are celebrity tourists eclipsing the real science done in space?

Captain Kirk may really be going to space, but he's not doing the real exploration, writes Quirks & Quarks host Bob McDonald.

We know humans are behind climate change, thanks to this Nobel Physics laureate's work

Klaus Hasselmann is one of the 3 recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics. His work helped us better understand the complex physics of climate change.

New Nobel laureate in chemistry reflects on how his discovery catalyzed his field

This year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry went jointly to David MacMillan and Benjamin List, who developed an efficient, affordable way to create new molecules, which has been called a "game changer" for the field of chemistry.

Researchers investigate an 'ultra-hot Jupiter' with iron rain and calcium wind

640 light years away, the planet is larger than Jupiter but orbits closer to its sun than Mercury

Canadian concept to pump carbon into subsea rock could sequester gigatons of CO2

‘There’s so much more capacity in these aquifers than is actually needed to deal with the problem.’

Cloud-based sunscreen could help protect the Great Barrier Reef from future heat damage

Scientists in Australia have been testing a system for artificially brightening clouds to reflect more of the sun's energy

How watching water bears walk could help us make small and squishy robots

Usually, soft microscopic animals like the tardigrade don’t walk - they roll, or swim, or slither. In a new study, researchers are trying to understand more about the way these animals move.

Oct 2: Indigenous archeology and unmarked graves, footprints of first peoples and more ...

Laser cooked food, monkeys choke under pressure, vampire bats meet for a drink and spider learning