Quirks & Quarks with Bob McDonald



Time to consider the impact of rocket exhausts on the atmosphere

Bob McDonald's blog: Researchers analyze how frequent future rocket launches could significantly impact the Earth's climate

Europe's space agency needs your eyeballs to study a comet

Bob McDonald's blog: Human eyes are really good at spotting subtle changes on a comet's surface from various viewpoints

Join astronomers under the stars to appreciate the magnificence of our universe

Bob McDonald's blog: May 7 is the unofficial holiday Astronomy Day, and stargazers around the world will be marking the day with public events.

NASA will fly to an asteroid we once thought could strike Earth

Bob McDonald's blog: An asteroid we once thought was on a collision course with Earth will now be visited by a repurposed spacecraft when the space rock passes close in 2029.

Scientists say a return to Uranus should be a highest priority

Bob McDonald's blog: In 1986 Voyager flew by the distant giant planet, but we haven't been back since, and now a U.S. advisory panel says its time to give Uranus a close look.

Does a Canadian millionaire's private flight to the space station mark a new era in space travel?

Bob McDonald's blog: Mark Pathy paid $55M for his ticket to the publicly funded space station. In the future, space tourists may be visiting a private space station.

Northern lights a reminder of the sun's influence on Earth

Bob McDonald's blog: This week, an enormous blob of plasma shot out from the sun like a tornado out of a thunderstorm, resulting in a beautiful light show across our skies.

Genetically modified space salad could help prevent astronauts' bone loss, researchers say

Bob McDonald's blog: Scientists have developed a transgenic lettuce that produces a bone stimulating hormone. They say it could help prevent bone loss in astronauts.

Walking like a dinosaur (or bird): This robot's legs are designed for maximum efficiency

Bob McDonald's blog: Birds and their ancestors the dinosaurs have been walking on two limbs for more than 100 million years, so its not surprising they do it well enough to inspire imitation.

You can help researchers monitor air pollution by collecting moss

Bob McDonald's blog: Scientists are asking for people across Canada to collect their local mosses and send them in for analysis, so that they can monitor heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and zinc accumulated in them.

International Space Station has survived disputes with Russia before. Will it this time?

The space station came about as a symbol of international co-operation between Russia and other spacefaring nations after the end of the Soviet Union. The current conflict in Ukraine threatens that long-standing collaboration, writes Bob McDonald in this week's blog.

Study suggests arts and culture field trips may improve student performance

Grade 4 and 5 students were offered the opportunity to go on trips to the theatre, art museums and classical music concerts, and the researchers say those who went achieved higher grades and showed new interest in culture.

Finding Shackleton's ship in Antarctica is a deeper challenge than the Franklin discovery

Bob McDonald's blog: Franklin's lost ships turned out to be in shallow water, so once found, were easy to explore. The rough location of Shackleton's ship is known, but under ice and three kilometres of water, it'll be hard to access.

Feeling amorous after a romantic dinner? At least in flies, the feeling may come from the gut

A new study found that in fruit flies a meal releases a gut hormone that then triggers courtship behaviour. The connection between food and sex is a rich vein to explore in other animals too.

We could be a wing-beat closer to machines that fly like birds — with flapping wings

Bob McDonald's blog: Practical ornithopters that fly like hummingbirds or dragonflies have been a long-time dream. A new electrically powered flapping wing system could make insect-like flying machines a reality.

Our space junk issue might be reaching the moon

Bob McDonald's blog: News that a derelict SpaceX booster could crash into the moon should focus attention on our space junk problem, and how it could reach beyond Earth orbit.

'Tantalizing' organics discovered on Mars but still no proof of life

Bob McDonald's blog: This isn't the first time alluring Martian evidence could have a biological basis, nor will it be the last.

Microplastics accumulating in rivers and in the air but solutions are available

Bob McDonald's blog: Two studies outline the sources and the ubiquity of microplastic pollution in the environment, but if we stop this at its source, we can reduce potential harm.

How the James Webb Space Telescope is so different from Hubble

Bob McDonald's blog: The telescope's large size makes it much more difficult to deploy in space, but it will give us a clearer view of the universe than ever before

Looking back at a booming year in space

Bob McDonald's blog: From low-Earth orbit to the far reaches of the universe, 2021 was a big year for space

High-tech astronaut sleeping bag may alleviate health problems on long journeys to Mars

Bob McDonald's blog: Life in microgravity leads to vision problems and potentially other serious health issues, such as body fluids accumulating in the upper body. The sleeping bag may counteract this problem

'Hut' on the moon is the latest imagined alien artifact

Bob McDonald's blog: Seeing buildings, faces or animals in photographs of other worlds is an interesting example of a phenomenon called pareidolia, which allows us to see faces in clouds as well.

Injectable gels could help repair heart tissue and spinal cord injuries

Bob McDonald’s blog: Advanced new bioengineered materials could be used to help difficult-to-repair tissues heal.

Running out of gas in B.C. underlines our dependence on fossil fuels

Bob McDonald's blog: An greener all-electric future could be less vulnerable to disruption.

Canadian VR technology will aid isolation effects on a simulated long duration space flight

Bob McDonald's blog: The virtual reality experience was designed to simulate the 'overview effect' that sparks a sense of awe in astronauts when they look down at Earth from space