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Bob McDonald on Singularity 1 on 1: Follow Your Dreams!

Bob McDonald is the national science correspondent and popular host of CBC’s radio show Quirks and Quarks. If you are Canadian it is virtually impossible that you have not seen or heard him on TV or radio for the past 30+ years. If you are not, then, you will be treated to some of his endless curiosity and infectious passion for science.

During my Singularity 1 on 1 interview with Bob we discuss a variety of topics such as: the story behind his love for and inspiration by science; how a university drop-out got to be the best-known science correspondent in Canada and earn 6 doctorate degrees; his powerful but simple recipe for success; his unique encounters with Carl Sagan; his take on science and religion; the Fermi paradox; the technological singularity,  mind uploading and virtual reality…

My favorite quote from Bob McDonald is:

“We understand biology down to molecules and atoms down to quarks. It’s amazing what we’ve found. We’ve looked out to the very far, and down to the very small. And we are on the verge of putting it all together into one big theory that tries to describe the whole thing.”

The only bad news is that Bob had already done 5 interviews on that day and had very limited time to spend with me. The good news, however, is that I plan to use this as an excuse to get McDonald for another interview, exclusively focused on the technological singularity…

(As always you can listen to or download the audio file above, or scroll down and watch the video interview in full.  If you want to help me produce more episodes please make a donation)


Who is Bob McDonald?

The host of Quirks & Quarks is Bob McDonald. One of Canada’s best known science journalists, Bob has been  presenting the program since 1992. Bob is also a regular science commentator on CBC News Network, and science correspondent for CBC TV’s The National. Before joining Quirks & Quarks, Bob was the host of CBC Television’s children’s science program Wonderstruck. He is also the author of two books based on the program, Wonderstruck I and II.

Fall 2000 saw the release of Bob’s book, Measuring the Earth with a Stick: Science as I’ve seen it. The book, which was short-listed for the Canadian Science Writers Association Book Award, is a collection of essays reflecting on his 25 years as a science journalist.

Bob also hosted and wrote a children’s TV science series, Heads Up!, which ran for 3 seasons on TVO and the Knowledge Network. In addition, he is Chairman of the Board for Geospace Planetarium.

Bob has been personally honoured for his contributions to the public awareness of science with the 2001 Michael Smith Award for Science Promotion, from NSERC; the 2002 Sandford Fleming Medal from The Royal Canadian Institute; and in 2005, the McNeil Medal for the Public Awareness of Science from the Royal Society of Canada – completing the ‘triple crown’ of medals for science communication in Canada. In 2010, Bob was named as an honorary life member of the Sigma Xi Society, the first Canadian to be so honoured by America’s oldest scientific body.

And in November, 2011, Bob was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

It’s Dr. Bob McDonald  Bob McDonald has been awarded 6 honorary degrees – the most recent being an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Calgary and an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Winnipeg – both awarded in June, 2010. Previously, Bob was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science from McMaster University in June, 2008 and a Doctorate of Letters from Laurentian University in Sudbury in October, 2007. You can listen to Bob’s speech to the graduating students here.

In 2005, Bob received an honorary degree from Carleton University. The university awarded him a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, “In recognition of his outstanding contribution to helping the public understand and appreciate science”.

Bob was also recognised by The University of Guelph in 2003, with an honorary Doctorate of Letters.

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  • Darlene Nordstrom

    I am a 60 y/o female subscriber to your site. Basic education,
    non-scientific, have a love of learning and a curiosity about the world
    and where we may be headed. Adding a comment from my POV. When you
    smile, laugh, and react to your subjects you light up the screen and the
    interaction comes alive for me. Because I’m still “old school” and
    enjoy the body language, facial expressions, and animated style it seems
    easier for me to follow the subject. There’s probably some insight
    into human nature vs robotics, synthesized speech, etc. in that. For
    me, the more drama the messenger displays, the easier it is to hear the
    message. Bob McDonald’s success is an example of that. So keep smiling
    Socrates, you’re just adorable!

  • CM Stewart

    Hooray for independent learning! And thanks for helping to promote non-institutional thought, Dr. McDonald. This is an inspiring interview.

    Curious point about success – as measured by increased allocation of resources – causing increases in populations. It’s my understanding that scarcity is often correlated to increases in pregnancies and birth rates rather than decreases (differentiated from spikes in populations). I’ve often wondered about this comparison.

    My favorite McDonald quote: “I’ve never been qualified to do what I do.”

  • CM Stewart

    “the more drama the messenger displays, the easier it is to hear the
    message. Bob McDonald’s success is an example of that. So keep smiling
    Socrates, you’re just adorable!” I second this!

  • Thanks very much to you both – I will have it in mind! 😉

  • Pingback: Socrates at Newtonbrook Secondary School: Be Unreasonable!()

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