Quirks & Quarks with Bob McDonald


July 16 - Best of Quirks: Big Game Science

How Canadian grizzlies compare to fat bear week winners, researchers are eavesdropping on noisy lynx, the discovery of ancient female big game hunters, and more.

How Canada's grizzlies would fare during Fat Bear week

Research shows that grizzlies have been adapting to human encroachment on their habitat — but they pay a heavy price.

Grizzly Tinder: Bears rubbing up against trees may be their dating calling card

Researchers always suspected bears rubbed trees to communicate, but didn't know what was being said. Now, a new study is the first to find a link between rubbing trees and mating success.

Purring, fighting, chaos and crunching bones: these are the sounds of the Canada lynx

By attaching audio recorders to a top predator in the boreal forest, researchers were able to eavesdrop on Canada lynx as they slept, fought, and went on the hunt.

What well-watched wildlife does when humans aren't around

Researchers are using COVID-19 lockdowns to study how ecotourism changes bear behaviour in the Great Bear Rainforest.

In the ancient Americas, female big-game hunters were common

New study finds that in early hunter-gatherer societies, 30-50 per cent of big game hunters were female

July 10 - Best of Quirks: Great Women in Science

Jennifer Doudna talks CRISPR, Andrea Ghez discusses supermassive black holes, Suzanne Simard shares some wisdom from the forest, and more.

CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna reflects on Nobel win, calls for 'responsible use' of gene editing technology

French microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier and American biochemist Jennifer Doudna won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, marking the first time an all-female team has won any science Nobel.

Extreme astrophysics: new Nobel laureate Andrea Ghez's work on supermassive black holes

American astrophysicist Andrea Ghez won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for her discovery of the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.

Biomedical engineer Molly Shoichet wins Canada's most prestigious science prize for 'hydrogels'

Hydrogel give cells a more realistic three-dimensional space to grow in than a standard petri dish

A pioneering forest researcher's memoir describes 'Finding the Mother Tree'

Suzanne Simard has found that forest trees are connected with an underground circulatory system that allows them to communicate and share resources, and that 'Mother trees' are the most connected of all.

July 3 - Best of Quirks: 2020 Summer Science Special

Fishing with the boys, COVID garbage, recognizing Black birders and searching for cougar kills

A Fisheries biologist coped with COVID shutdowns by drafting his kids as research assistants

Their cottage lake was a research site and the three young boys caught fish and collected data

A stranded plastic pollution researcher maps COVID litter in her backyard

When her plan to research plastic pollution on an island in Alaska was canceled due to the global pandemic, one researcher turned her attention to COVID litter on the streets of Toronto.

Studying sparrows and launching a movement in support of Black scientists

How one ornithologist spent her summer doing double duty studying coastal marsh sparrows and organizing a social media movement in support of Black birders.

Dangerous, difficult and disgusting — Tracking cougar kills gives insights into the big cats

Researching cougar predation in southern BC could help us understand how increasing human activity is influencing the big cats' behaviour. And there were kittens.

Jun 26: The Quirks & Quarks listener question show

How much of a lake is fish pee? What's corn silk actually for? What happens if you break wind in a space suit? And much more....

UFOs may be real, but that doesn't mean they are alien spaceships

Bob McDonald’s blog: The US intelligence community and military will be submitting a report to their congress on unidentified flying objects

Jun 19: Fish out of water get smarter, a star's disappearing act, echidna's 4 headed penis and more…

Sponges get a move on and the multi-generational impacts of DDT

Could a Canadian company's new project finally make fusion power a reality?

Bob McDonald's blog: Vancouver-based General fusion uses a unique technology to duplicate the heart of a stars. It's one of several fusion projects underway around the world.

Amphibious fish out of water get a brain boost from exercise

Researchers put amphibious fish through a land-based exercise program and found they got smarter and their brains grew. This may help explain what happened when our ancestors left the oceans hundreds of millions of years ago.

A large star that pulled a disappearing act may be a new kind of 'blinking giant'

The giant red stars likely have a binary companion with a large disc that eclipses the star over a period of months.

Echidnas have a unique 4-headed penis but only use half at a time

Using 3D models, researchers have been able to learn more about the strange genitalia of the short-beaked echidna, including how it functions.

They're not speedy, but these seafloor sponges are on the move

Sponges are generally thought to be stationary, but evidence to the contrary has been observed on a submerged Arctic ridge

Sick legacy — how DDT exposure from the past can affect many generations to come

Study indicates that the granddaughters of women who were exposed are more likely to menstruate early, become obese and develop breast cancer