Quirks & Quarkswith Bob McDonald


Apr 17: Mother ants shrinking brains, boreal forest tree shifts, finding a new blue and more…

Airborne plastic pollution, and a new book looks at ‘Life’s Edge’

A new era of flight on other worlds

Bob McDonald's blog: Powered flight on Mars could be the first step to atmospheric flight on other planets or moons

These ants shrink their brains for motherhood — but can also grow them back

Indian jumping ants are rare in that the workers can reproduce. But there's a catch: they have to give up 25 per cent of their brain to do it.

Intense boreal forest fires may change tree species, and lead to more carbon uptake

As boreal forests recover from unusually intense wildfires in places like Alaska, they are experiencing a shift in tree species from black spruce to deciduous trees like aspen and birch.

'Where's the blue food?' Scientists find source for natural blue food dye in red cabbage

A natural alternative to blue food dye has been very challenging to find because nature doesn't provide a lot of options

Tonnes of microplastic are soaring into the atmosphere from roads, oceans and fields

Discarded plastic fragments into dust-like particles, which can be carried for days in the atmosphere and circulate around the globe.

Contemplating what it means to be alive in the new book 'Life's Edge'

The line between alive and dead is often murky, argues New York Times' science columnist Carl Zimmer

Coyotes doing well in the city, asteroid impact created rainforests, the minimal organism and more…

Elephant seals fear of the light and why warmer springs could mean earlier falls

Suggestions of a new force echo the ancient quest for fundamental elements

Bob McDonald's blog: The quest to understand the nature of matter and reality is ancient — and continuing

How coyotes have managed to find success in the city like no other predator

Coyote sightings are up during lockdowns. But ecologists say that the urbanization of coyotes is a larger story that's been unfolding over several decades. 

The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs might have created the rainforests

The tropical rainforests we see today in South America might not have flourished had it not been for the asteroid that struck Earth 66 million years ago.

Scientists create the simplest cell with only bare essentials for life and reproduction

A team of scientists stripped a bacterial cell down to a minimum. Their work will help shed light on the genes required for basic cellular functions.

Elephant seals buoyantly navigate 'lightscape of fear' in long sea migrations

Elephant seals take fewer risks out in the open ocean the fatter they get

Climate change might make autumn leaves appear — and disappear — earlier

Trees will become more productive earlier in the season in a warming climate and could drop their leaves sooner as a result

Apr 3: Gorilla troops raise orphans, Canadian laser cools antimatter, concussion spit test and more...

Octopus sleep and dreams, forensic science in real life and blood of many colours

Giant silverback gorillas show a gentler side in looking after orphans

Long-term research on mountain gorillas show how the troop cares for orphaned or abandoned infants

'Cool' new Canadian-built laser will help scientists probe antimatter mysteries

The new laser device helps to how to slow the antimatter down, so scientists can get much a better look at it

Game-changing saliva test could rapidly diagnose concussions for athletes

Researchers from the University of Birmingham discover a simple but accurate way to test for concussions, by tapping into the "alarm bells" sent by the body in the minutes after injury.

Octopuses sleep in technicolour. Do they dream, too?

Octopuses are known to change colour while they're sleeping. Now a new study shows that these colour changes reflect the animal's different sleep states.

A new book looks at forensic science beyond what we see on TV

A sociologist investigates the real criminologists beyond the TV world of CSI and Bones

Do all creatures on Earth have red blood?

Our blood gets its red colour from the protein hemoglobin, but there are other proteins and blood colours among other species

Mar 27: COVID pandemic origins, nature sounds good, why humans have such big brains and more…

Making the study of the universe more accessible and a question of cat fur

Solar canal concept could be a win for clean energy and water conservation

Bob McDonald's blog: Solar panels suspended over large irrigation canal networks could generate useful power and reduce losses due to evaporation of water used for irrigation.

COVID 'fuse' may have been lit weeks or months before the 'bomb' in Wuhan market: researcher

Instead of being the source of the pandemic, the seafood market outbreak likely amplified the human-to-human spread, new research has found.

Nature's sounds improve well-being — reducing stress and even pain

Listen: Immerse yourself in a natural soundscape while learning about how those nature sounds benefit your health