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Quirks and Quarks from CBC Radio

CBC Podcasts & Radio On-Demand

CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks covers the quirks of the expanding universe to the quarks within a single atom... and everything in between.

CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks covers the quirks of the expanding universe to the quarks within a single atom... and everything in between.


Canada, ON


CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks covers the quirks of the expanding universe to the quarks within a single atom... and everything in between.








Quirks & Quarks is on hiatus for the summer. We'll be back with new content Sept. 11

You can visit our archives and listen to older content at our website at cbc.ca/quirks


Quirks & Quarks listener question show

How much of a lake or river is actually fish pee? What's corn silk actually for? What happens when an astronaut gets gassy in a space suit? And much more..


Fish out of water get smarter, a star’s disappearing act, echidna’s 4 headed penis, sponges get a move on and the multi-generational impacts of DDT

Fish out of water get a brain boost; A large star that pulled a disappearing act may be a new kind of ‘blinking giant’; Echidnas have a unique 4-headed penis but only use half at a time; They're not speedy, but these seafloor sponges are on the move; Sick legacy — how DDT exposure from the past can affect many generations to come.


Missions to Venus, learning instant replay, wrens spectacular duet, puppies born for communication, the bubble behind the vaccines and great ape blood groups

Visiting Venus — NASA announces 2 new missions to Earth's evil twin; Your brain replays new skills at super-speed when you take breaks during learning; Wrens synchronize their brains in order to sing spectacular duets; New study shows puppies are born wired to understand and communicate with humans; Meet the Canadian scientist who paved the way for for groundbreaking mRNA COVID vaccines; Do great apes have the same blood groups as humans?


Shark extinction event, caffeine can’t keep you functional, the pachyderm’s proboscis, prey eat a predator, and learning about land use from Indigenous science

Sharks were almost wiped out in a mystery extinction 19 million years ago; Caffeine fail - New study shows it can keep you awake, but can’t keep you functional; How an elephant’s trunk acts as a “muscular multitool”; Normally herbivorous sea urchins turn the tables on a predatory sun star; How Indigenous science could help us with our sustainability and diversity crisis.


Salmon virus origins, municipal microbiomes, a robot arm that can feel, wolves reduce car accidents, and a new book looks at ‘Mom Genes’

Salmon CSI - A virus in BC's wild salmon came from salmon farms, research suggests; By swabbing subways researchers discover the municipal microbiome of cities worldwide; Robotic arms get a performance boost by getting touchy-feely; Wolves can reduce collisions between cars and deer, saving lives and money; ‘Mom Genes’ explores the radical biological transformations of motherhood.


Solving our sand crisis, nuclear quasicrystals, Voyager hears an interstellar hum, breathing through our intestines, a toilet revolution and dark matter in our galaxy

The world could be facing a sand crisis. A new study looks for solutions; World's first nuclear detonation forged the first human-made quasicrystal; Voyager 1 picks up the the ‘hum’ of of interstellar space; Animals can breathe through their butts and oxygen up the wazoo may work for humans too; Dethroning our old toilets. A new book looks at the environmental revolution in toilet tech; What evidence for dark matter has been found in the Milky Way?


California condor genetics, a strange star goes supernova, don’t think, just kick, patient wolves hunt beavers, an ocean of noise and why parrots mimic

California condors escaped extinction — and a genetic bottleneck; Astronomers get rare and surprising before and after shots of a star going supernova; For soccer players, the less brain they use, the better for penalty kicks; Beaver-hunting wolves have perfected a sit-and-wait strategy; An ocean of noise is having major impacts on the marine environment; Why are birds like parrots able to mimic sounds?


Sounds of a predator, horses are well-diggers, grass defuses a toxic explosive, plastic from fish waste, Animals mate with relatives, mastodon poop and pupillary variety.

Wild donkeys and horses dig wells in the desert, and create a refuge for plants and animals; Genetically modified grass can suck toxic explosives out of the ground; Animals don't seem to much care if they mate with relatives; Making the most of fish waste: how scientists transformed it into biodegradable plastic; Digging into 75,000 year old mastodon dung to learn about ancient Nova Scotia; Why do some animals have slit shaped pupils?


Lightning cleans the atmosphere, a 142 year - and counting - experiment, sea turtles ‘lost years’ found, finding the Mother Tree and why we cry

Scientists shocked to discover how much lightning cleans the atmosphere; Digging up 142-year-old seeds in the latest instalment in the world’s oldest experiment; Researchers solve the mystery of loggerhead turtle's lost years; A pioneering forest researcher's memoir describes 'Finding the Mother Tree'; Why do we cry when we are sad?


Mars helicopter, Narwhal tusks and pollution, T. Rex in their billions , airborne COVID, and what we need to know about geoengineering

How NASA built and flew the first helicopter to fly on another planet; The horn of the unicorn of the sea reveals a dirty secret about arctic pollution; Billions and billions of Tyrannosaurs walked the Earth; How long before we all understand that SARS-CoV-2 COVID is airborne?; Understanding geoengineering - why we need to investigate last resort to tackle climate change.


Mother ants shrinking brains, boreal forest tree shifts, finding a new blue, airborne plastic pollution, and a new book looks at ‘Life’s Edge’

These ants shrink their brains for motherhood — but can also grow them back; Intense boreal forest fires may change tree species, and lead to more carbon uptake; ‘Where’s the blue food?’ Scientists find source for natural blue food dye in red cabbage; Tons of microplastic is being thrown into the atmosphere from roads, oceans and fields; Contemplating what it means to be alive in the new book ‘Life’s Edge’.


Coyotes doing well in the city, asteroid impact created rainforests, the minimal organism, elephant seals fear of the light and why warmer springs could mean earlier falls

How “wily” coyotes have managed to find success in the city like no other predator; The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs might have created the rainforests; Scientists create the simplest cell with only the bare essentials for it to live and reproduce; Elephant seals buoyantly navigate ‘lightscape of fear’ in long sea migrations; Climate change might make autumn leaves appear — and disappear — earlier.


Gorilla troops raise orphans, Canadian laser cools antimatter, concussion spit test, 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; ‘Cool’ new Canadian-built laser will help scientists probe antimatter mysteries; Game-changing saliva test could rapidly diagnose concussions for athletes; Octopuses sleep in technicolour. Do they dream, too?; A new book looks at forensic science beyond what we see on TV; Do all creatures on Earth have red blood?


COVID pandemic origins, nature sounds good, why humans have such big brains, making the study of the universe more accessible and a question of cat fur

COVID ‘fuse’ may have been lit weeks or months before the Wuhan market ‘bomb’; Nature's sounds improve well-being — reducing stress and even pain; Researchers use 'mini-brains' to find out why ours grow so large; A theoretical cosmologist explores the right to wonder upon the night sky; How do you explain the changing hair colour pattern of a tabby cat?


When Greenland was green, bear back-scratching, Mars voyage emotional toll, fin whale seismic sensing, what made COVID-19 vaccines possible and gas fume shadows

Ice cores drilled for missile silo research reveals when Greenland was last green; Grizzly Tinder: Bears rubbing up against trees may be their dating calling card; Microgravity on a trip to Mars might leave astronauts emotionally impaired; Listening in on fin whale calls to do seismic sensing of the ocean floor; COVID vaccines were made in record time. Meet a scientist who made that possible; Why do gasoline fumes cast a shadow on a cold, sunny day?


10 years since Japan’s tsunami, ants do social distancing, otters save kelp forests, ancient and agile hippo-sized reptile and autism and human innovation

Earthquake science takes great strides in the 10 years since massive quake hit Japan; Ant-i-social distancing: Ants know how isolation prevents the spread of infection; Sea otters have been saving Pacific kelp forests from rapacious sea urchins; As big as a hippo, but speedy like a cheetah: meet the intimidating Anteosaurus; Is autism the legacy of humans evolving the ability to innovate?


COVID & climate complexity, memory athletics, life on Earth is lucky, frogs do noise cancellation, speaking to the dreaming and hot air rising

COVID gave climate scientists a natural experiment. Here’s what they learned; Flexing memory muscles like the pros can build long term memories; Do you feel lucky? Chance likely played a major role in life persisting on Earth; Frogs have noise cancelling lungs so females can hear males over the swampy din; Dispatches from the dreamworld: establishing two-way communication with lucid dreamers; If hot air rises, why is it cold at the top of mountains?


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

This week’s special edition of CBC Radio’s Quirks & Quarks looks at the history and future of Black people in science. We delve into the history of biased and false “race science” that for hundreds of years was used to justify slavery, exploitation and exclusion. This has left a terrible legacy in systemic racism that in the past and present has, on one hand, led to misunderstanding and mistreatment of Black people by the scientific and medical community, and on the other has created...


Magnetic pole reversals, viruses hunt bacteria, solar powered microflyers, trans people and sexual health, the music of endangered birds and why elliptical orbits?

When the magnetic poles flip out, Earth seems to suffer; Bacteria-hunting viruses can track down antibiotic resistant bugs where they hide; Levitating solar-powered micro flyers may fly high where planes and rockets can't; HIV testing study of trans people in the UK reveals health care gaps; Music inspired by endangered bird calls brings focus on conservation and creativity; If the sun is round, why are the planets in elliptical orbits?