Bob McDonald

Bob McDonald

Host of CBC Radio's Quirks & Quarks

Bob McDonald is one of Canada’s best-known science journalists, bringing science to the public for more than 40 years. In addition to hosting Quirks & Quarks, the award-winning science program with a national audience of nearly 500,000 people, McDonald is also a science correspondent for CBC Television’s The National and Gemini-winning host and writer of the children’s series Head’s Up. He also hosted The Great Canadian Invention, Wonderstruck, and the seven-part series, Water Under Fire.

The host and writer of numerous television documentaries and more than 100 educational videos in Canada and the United States, McDonald has also authored five bestselling science books, with his latest being An Earthling’s Guide to Space. He has also contributed to numerous textbooks, magazines, and newspapers, including The Globe and Mail.

An Officer of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, McDonald has been honoured for his outstanding contribution to the promotion of science with the Michael Smith Award from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Sir Sanford Fleming Medal from the Royal Canadian Institute, and the McNeil Medal from The Royal Society of Canada. In 2008, he won a Gemini Award for best host in a pre-school, children’s or youth program or series.

McDonald holds twelve honorary doctorates from Canadian universities and two honourary College degrees. He also currently sits on the board of Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. In 2014, asteroid 2006 XN67 was officially named “bobmcdonald” in his honour.

Being There: Science As I've Seen It

After more than 40 years of reporting on science, this journalist has seen a lot, from the exploration of our entire solar system by robots, to the computer and genetic revolutions that have profoundly changed our lives. We live in remarkable times where the most powerful tools humanity has ever known are in our grasp. Do we have the wisdom to use these tools wisely?

Energy, Who Cares?

Canadians consume more energy per person than almost every other country. We live in a land rich in resources but supplies are dwindling and demand is rising. Climate change is forcing a re-thinking of our energy use, what are the realistic alternatives to a clean energy future?

From The Pit To The Peak: Extreme Canadian Science

A traveller’s tale from the depths of a nickle mine in Sudbury where neutrinoes are captured, to the peak of the worlds largest mountain, Canadian science is at the forefront of scientific investigation. Our astronauts are an intricate part of NASA and our laboratories are churning out world class data. Canada does great science, which is largely unappreciated in this country. It also places us in a position to provide the knowledge base to address some of the serious world problems and lead by example to sensible solutions.

I Don't Get It! Environmental Conundrums

When the first energy crisis happened in 1973, large gas guzzling cars were instantly unpopular as efficiency became a priority. Why then, as gas prices have continued to rise, are large, gas guzzling SUV’s so popular? Why do people oppose Kyoto? Why are protests mounted over windmills when they are clean producers of energy? Why is Canada one of the worst consumers of energy and water in the world? Scientists have been sounding alarm bells about environmental decline for decades, why is real social change so slow in coming? Are there realistic solutions out there?

Perspectives on a Planet

This presentation looks at the Earth in its full environmental context: a small rock covered in a thin film of water and air just close enough to an average star to support intelligent life. There is no other world like it. While robots have visited eight other nearby worlds and telescopes have spotted more than 250 planets around other stars, not one of them is like our Earth. Looking at our planet in a holistic way we see how its face has changed over time, how human activity is altering that face today and examines ways we can take care of the little bit of air and water that clings to its surface for the future.

Science in the Third Millennium

In the last thousand years, humanity has emerged from the dark ages and touched the moon. As a science journalist, it is an exquisite privilege to witness the remarkable new achievements, discoveries and challenges at the cutting edge of our knowledge. Canada’s contributions, from the search for dark matter in the depths of a Sudbury mine to exploring the winds of Mars are internationally recognized. The third millennium will be a remarkable time for Canadian science.

Surviving The Third Millennium

Climate change, water supply, droughts on the prairies, floods on the coasts, energy shortage, growing population, clones, computer kids…the future can look scary sometimes. Can we engineer our way through another thousand years of civilization? This optimist says yes, and Canada is in a position to lead the way.

Vacations in Space

A fanciful look into the future when a weekend to a space hotel, or ski trip to the snows of Mars will be available to everyone. Take a swim in a zero-gravity pool or float through the orange clouds of Jupiter. Of course, like any traveller, you will think about the planet you left behind and how remarkably unique or Earth really is.

What If Everything We Know Is Wrong?

When we look at the world through our five senses, what we see is wrong. The Earth looks flat and unmoving with a sky like a dome overhead. For 2000 years, science has continually changed our view of the world and our place in the cosmos. From the first measurement of the size of our globe and its movement through space, to plate tectonics and the genetic revolution, science has been the best tool to discover how nature works. And there is still much to discover, as dark matter and dark energy, which make up 95% of the universe are totally mysterious. There is still much to learn.