Quirks & Quarkswith Bob McDonald


May 30: Swearing makes pain more tolerable, Mt. St. Helens 40 years later and more…

Turning plants into carnivores and COVID reopening speedbumps

A secret military space plane is carrying an experiment to harvest power from space

Bob McDonald's blog: A pizza box-sized prototype will demonstrate the possibility of solar power satellites, which have been a long-held dream of space enthusiasts.

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

40 years ago, Mount St. Helens blew its top. Here's how it got green again

Four decades after the eruption, the ecosystems in the area have recovered in surprising ways thanks to a few special heroes.

Recycling spare genes was how some plants turned into carnivores

'They were able to move genes for nutrient uptake from the root to the leaf to make the leaf a root'

COVID reopening: hoping it goes right - watching carefully how it might go wrong

With COVID-19 still circulating, how can we know if we need to lock down again. And will people be willing to make that sacrifice?

May 23: Can COVID cut climate emissions permanently? Robot stand-up comedy and more...

Evolving animals from worm guts to fish fingers and adapting to climate change on the prairies

Are clear skies a sign that we'll soon retire the combustion engine?

Bob McDonald's blog: Pollution free skies over cities during the pandemic are an opportunity to ponder the next technological revolution.

Turning COVID-related drop in CO2 emissions into a plan to fight climate change

Carbon emissions experience biggest decline since WWII. But how can we keep it that way as lockdowns lift?

A stand-up robot understands that timing is the secret to comedy

A joke telling robot just finished 32 shows where it got a lot of laughs, but also a lot of data that can help scientists better understand human-robot interactions

Fish fingers and bilateral symmetry — new fossils shed light on critical stages of evolution

Recent discoveries give clues about two critical stages in the evolution of modern complex animals

Prairie farmer says he's 'pretty much gambling' with unstable conditions — made worse by climate change

In a documentary from Winnipeg-based producer Tom Jokinen, we look at how tech-savvy farmers and academic scientists are working to adapt to changing conditions on Prairie farms.

May 16: COVID unknowns, a giant sloth graveyard and more…

Drying northern peatlands, and this is your brain on fear

Persistent pollutants and the unintended side effects of the Montreal Protocol

Bob McDonald's blog: The Montreal Protocol banned chemicals to protect the Earth's ozone. Now, the alternatives to those chemicals are showing up in Arctic ice and we don't know if they pose a threat to human health.

COVID-19 and scientific confusion — What we don't know and why we don't know it

Scientists around the world are working on COVID. So why don’t we have more answers?

A giant sloth graveyard shows how these enormous animals died — and lived

At least 22 elephant-sized animals died in the same place at the same time, suggesting tragedy might have struck an extended family group.

Vast boreal peatlands may dry up and burn in a warming climate

Understanding the effect of rising temperatures and drier air on peatlands such as the massive Hudson Bay basin is critical to future climate models.

Your brain on terror — a writer faces the science behind her fears

Is it possible to be truly fearless? And would that be a good thing?

May 9: COVID stress and pregnancy, a black hole in our backyard and more…

Solving koalas’ drinking problem and how to live on Mars

Florence Nightingale used mathematics to improve health care

Bob McDonald's blog: Born 200 years ago, she's famous for her work in nursing, but was an accomplished statistician as well.

What the ice storm can teach us about the prenatal impacts of pandemic stress

Stressful disasters like ice storms, hurricanes, and yes, pandemics, can lead to lasting effects for mother and child.

An unseen black hole has been lurking in our galactic neighborhood

Just 1000 light years away, its companion stars are visible to the naked eye

Now we know how koalas drink (we didn't before)

Koalas have been observed licking rainwater as it cascades down the smooth trunks of eucalyptus trees
Pathway to Mars

How to build habitats on Mars and how to live in them

The series continues with a look at 3-D printed habitats and studies on the cognitive impacts that living and working on Mars could have on astronauts.

May 2: COVID and social isolation, COVID and dreams, the most dangerous place on Earth and more…

Satellite streak watcher and coping with sea level rise in Nova Scotia