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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.








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?


Driving a rover on Mars, a stinky romantic gift, coral that can handle bleaching, easy choices aren’t stress free, monkeys ‘self-domesticate’ and unhealthy water holes

Meet the Canadian engineer who will help guide NASA’s new rover on Mars; Butterfly males leave a stinky parting gift with mates that deters further suitors; Biologists can tell how some corals survive climate-related coral bleaching events; Quick decisions might not be easy ones as ‘choice overload’ leads to stress; Monkeys are 'naturally selecting' themselves for domestic cooperation and tranquility; Why don’t animals get sick from filthy, drying-up water holes in Africa?


COVID treatments: what have we learned? Breakups change language, algae blooms on Greenland, bats’ impressive flight, amateur astronomers find brown dwarfs and fish in space?

Treating COVID-19 one year in: what have we learned?; Me, myself and I: Little words might signal a breakup is coming, long before you know it; What’s feeding the algae growing on — and helping to melt — Greenland’s ice?; Faster, higher, stronger — bats reach Olympian heights and record speeds; Amateur astronomers use the ‘mark one eyeball’ to find brown dwarf stars; If fish don’t experience gravity, can astronauts learn from them to stay in shape?


New climate war tactics, lizard burrows are wildlife condos, sleep lunacy, blind naked mole-rat dialects, male mantises don’t go down easily, and how do astronauts float?

Prominent climatologist behind ‘hockey stick’ graph talks about the ‘New Climate War’; Australian monitor lizards build underground condos used by dozens of other species; Phases of the moon could be playing with your bedtime without you knowing it; Naked mole rats learn their 'language' from their queens and speak in dialect; Scientists find male praying mantises taking a stand against cannibal females; Why aren’t astronauts affected by gravity or centrifugal force in the space station?


A pandemic of boredom, dinosaur’s nether regions, a giant telescope on the moon, greenhouse gases and a mussel’s shell game and cancer ‘sleeps through’ chemotherapy

Pandemic boredom research is thrilling and — and might even be helpful; A dinosaur's 'butthole' was a swiss-army-knife of orifices; Building Earth's largest telescope on the far side of the moon; Mussels play a 'shell game' to deal with increasingly corrosive ocean waters; Cancer cells 'hibernate' to hide from chemotherapy.


Introducing: Tai Asks Why Season 3

Fourteen year-old Tai Poole returns with Season 3 of Tai Asks Why to ask: What’s happening in my teen brain? How is the Universe going to end? Why do humans dance? And how much screen time is too much? Join Tai as he boldly goes where no 9th-grader has gone before to find you answers you never knew you needed. His conversations with everyone from NASA experts, to physicists and dancers, to his little brother Kien will expand your mind, no matter how old you are! More episodes are available...


Snake lasso climbing, detecting gravitational waves with pulsars, coping with soil compaction, what land should we protect to reach 30% and electric eels hunt in packs.

Snakes tie themselves in knots to climb up slippery poles after endangered prey; Spinning stars act as cosmic lighthouses to help detect gravitational waves; Heavy machinery is compacting agricultural soils. Can we persuade plants to put up with it?; Canada committed to protecting 30% of our territory by 2030. Which 30% should it be?; ‘Shocking’ electric eel pack-hunting behaviour discovered in the Amazon.


COVID-19 and fighting viral evolution, ice-age wolf pup, how jellyfish swim so efficiently and how to do online learning to make education better

New COVID variants: what’s driving the virus to evolve, and what we can do about it; A 60,000 year-old frozen wolf cub paints a picture of ice age life; Jellyfish are the ocean’s most efficient swimmers - here’s how they do it; An online learning expert explains how the COVID crisis might help change education for the better.