Quirks & Quarks

Sept 5, 2020 - Best of Quirks & Quarks: Listener question show

We answer your questions, like: do wildfires near Chernobyl release radiation? Do birds fly south for the summer in the southern hemisphere? How much does an airplane grows and shrink as it flies?

Do viruses have predators? What do animals taste? How do you weigh the earth? And more

Curious questioners need answers (FRED TANNEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

Originally published on June 27, 2020.

On this episode of our ever-popular listener Question Show:

  • Do animals - in particular birds - taste their food?  Answered by Jacqueline Miller, a PhD candidate in zoology and a mammalogy technician at the Royal Ontario Museum.

  • Do bacteria that eat plastic eat all kinds of plastic, and how do scientists develop them?  Answered by Dr. Love-Ese Chile, a bioplastics researcher and consultant with Grey to Green Sustainable Solutions in Vancouver.

  • What effect does the Milky Way have on our solar system? How different would our solar system be if we were in a different spot? Answered by Heidi White, a PhD candidate in the department of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Toronto.

  • How do airplanes deal with contraction and expansion due to the extreme temperature differences between the ground and flying altitude?  Answered by Jeremy Laliberté, a professor in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Carleton University

How do you weigh the Earth? What do animals taste? (PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP via Getty Images)
  • How does the microbiome of a pregnant woman affect the developing fetus? Answered by Kathy McCoy, a professor at the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine, and director of the International Microbiome Centre.

  • Do South American birds migrate south in their summer the way our birds fly North in ours? Answer from Alicia Korpach, a PhD candidate studying conservation biology at the University of Manitoba.

  • How do scientists weigh the Earth? Answered by Natalya Gomez, an assistant professor in Earth and Planetary Sciences at McGill University.

  • Do wildfires in the Chernobyl exclusion zone release radioactive particles into the atmosphere? Answered by Dr. Timothy Mousseau, a professor of biological sciences at the University of South Carolina.

  • Do viruses have predators? Answer from Hannah Wallace, a PhD student in immunology and infectious disease at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

  • If the magnetic field shifts or flips, what will it mean for the Northern lights or even human life? Answer from Elaina Hyde, an assistant professor in the department of physics and astronomy at York University.

Produced by Molly Segal. Written by Jim Lebans.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.