Quirks & Quarkswith Bob McDonald


Mar 6: COVID & climate complexity, memory athletics, life on Earth is lucky and more…

Frogs do noise cancellation, speaking to the dreaming and hot air rising

First private trip to the moon could be a tremendous boost or bust for space tourism

Plan for new SpaceX rocket to take billionaire and his guests to lunar orbit is a risky proposition

COVID gave climate scientists a natural experiment. Here's what they learned

Because of COVID-related lockdowns, global carbon emissions were down 7% in 2020. But a new study shows that will only have a minimal impact on our warming climate.

Flexing memory muscles like the pros can build long term memories

A technique developed in Ancient Greece helps the world's top memory athletes remember scores of arbitrary information in a matter of minutes. But it can also help non-professionals boost their long-term memory skills.

Do you feel lucky? Chance likely played a major role in life persisting on Earth

A simulation of 100,000 Earthlike planets ended with very few remaining habitable for the billions of years we'd expect it to take for life to evolve.

Frogs have noise cancelling lungs so females can hear males over the swampy din

Green tree frogs have evolved the ability to filter out irrelevant sound

Scientists asked lucid dreamers math questions. Some answered

Out of 36 test subjects, six were able to answer questions like, "What is eight minus six?" or "Do you speak Spanish?" with eye signals, while remaining asleep and dreaming.

If hot air rises, why is it cold at the top of mountains?

As warm air rises up a mountain side, it loses pressure, expands, and cools as it works against its surroundings

Feb 27: Black in science special

The legacy of racism in science and how Black Scientists are moving the dial

Black scientists around the world are calling for action, equality and representation

After a woman walking in Central Park falsely accused a Black man of assaulting her, social media erupted in support of the scientist who was simply birdwatching causing anger, outrage — and action. Now, Black scientists from around the world are taking part, promoting their work and calling for change.

How historical racism in science continues to shape the Black experience

Racism has been perpetuated under the guise of science for centuries, and the effects are still being felt today, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meet 7 groundbreaking Black scientists from the past

From the first treatment for leprosy to the foundation of the global positioning system, Black scientists have long been involved in major scientific developments, despite being pushed to the margins, refused jobs, and denied credit for their discoveries. 

Feb 20: Magnetic pole reversals, viruses hunt bacteria, solar powered microflyers and more …

Trans people and sexual health, the music of endangered birds and why elliptical orbits?

It's critical to detect life on Mars before humans set foot on the red planet

Bob McDonald's blog: how we can avoid accidental microbiological 'wars of the worlds'

When the magnetic poles flip out, Earth seems to suffer

Magnetic pole reversal indicated in 42,000 year old tree rings may have triggered global environmental change

Bacteria-hunting viruses can track down antibiotic-resistant bugs where they hide

Bacteriophages could potentially help us mitigate the rising threat of antibiotic resistance.

Levitating solar-powered micro flyers may fly high where planes and rockets can't

At that height, there isn’t even enough air pressure for balloons to float

HIV testing study of trans people in the U.K. reveals health-care gaps

Researchers have found HIV testing rates skyrocket in transgender people, an at-risk group, when they are supplied with self-testing kits — but that promising sign also points to a bigger problem in the health-care system.

Music inspired by endangered bird calls brings focus on conservation and creativity

Science and philosophy of conservation informed Toronto composer Keith Stratton's piece

If the sun is round, why are the planets in elliptical orbits?

This burning question of the week concerns why planets have elliptical orbits around the sun given its round shape.

Feb 13: Driving a rover on Mars, a stinky romantic gift, coral that can handle bleaching and more…

Easy choices aren’t stress free, monkeys ‘self-domesticate’ and unhealthy water holes

Getting to Mars is a shooting gallery where all targets are moving

Bob McDonald's blog: Given the precision that's required, it's no wonder roughly half of Mars missions fail.

Meet the Canadian engineer who will help guide NASA's new rover on Mars

Raymond Francis, originally from Sudbury, Ont., plays a key role in operating the new Perseverance rover — including shooting its laser.

Butterfly males leave a stinky parting gift with mates that deters further suitors

The strong-smelling chemical compound saves the female from unwanted harassment and guarantees his paternity

Scientists can tell how some corals survive climate-related coral bleaching events

The researchers discovered a biomarker they hope can help them identify heat-resistant coral for restoration efforts