October 2, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 20  

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Quirky McDonald

By Jonathan Yazer
Gazette Writer

Wearing a tie made entirely from refrigerator magnets, Bob McDonald, host of CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks, gave a presentation entitled Miracles or Mad Science: The Love/Hate Relationship Between Science and Society at Talbot College theatre Tuesday evening in front of approximately 150 people.

Using simple language and a host of analogies, McDonald began by explaining the intricate process that allowed the audience to physically hear what he was saying.

For Jocelyn Tindale, a third-year chemistry student at Western, this was the best part of the speech. "He was very engaging," she said.

"It's amazing what we know about sound waves and light, knowledge that comes from institutions like this," McDonald said."But there are some things science doesn't know, like how the sounds we hear become a thought. We think we're so smart, but our ignorance is so much greater than our knowledge. Science has to be open-ended enough for change."

McDonald then reviewed some of the greatest scientific moments in history, including the accurate measurement of the Earth's circumference by Eratosthenes over 2,000 years ago and the discovery of DNA 50 years ago.

"No one has a clue how gravity works. If we did, we could turn it off or reverse it. We don't understand the most fundamental force keeping you in your chairs," McDonald stated.

Turning his attention to the environment, McDonald explained "Earth has been frozen, baked and hit, and has experienced five major extinctions. I'm not worried about its resiliency. I'm more worried about us."

Ultimately, however, McDonald's outlook was optimistic: "I think we can survive."

Jason Scott, a second-year engineering student, concurred with McDonald's ideas. "The most promising technology is the hydrogen-fuel cell. We just need more initiative," he said.



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