Jay Ingram CM, BSc, MSc is a Canadian author and broadcaster. He was host of the television show Daily Planet, which airs on Discovery Channel Canada, since the channel's inception in 1995. Ingram's last episode of Daily Planet aired on June 5, 2011.
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I was the host of Discovery Channel Canada’s Daily Planet and CBC's Quirks & Quarks. I have written fourteen books, three of which have won Canadian Science Writers' Awards and several have been on the bestseller list. My upcoming book, The Science of Why 2, is scheduled to release tomorrow!
I will be here at 4:00PM to answer questions.
I watched you on Daily Planet all the time as a kid! In the last decade, what was/is your favourite new technological invention?
CRISPR, the technology that allows super precise editing of DNA. It's going to have amazing effects.
Hey Jay - I grew up with you on Daily Planet. You are one of the reasons why I was so interested in the sciences growing up, actually. Thanks for making it fun and exciting!
My question for you: In your experience, what's the hardest scientific fact to explain to people/what is one thing that people just don't seem to understand?
I think quantum mechanics, a world that is completely alien to the world we experience in our daily lives.
Thank you so much!
It would have been amazing to be immersed in the jungle for a whole day!
Another question if I may.
Usually on the show there was always a new gadget that you used or tested. Which was your favourite?
It's not exactly a gadget, but one of my favourites was a 3-metre diameter ball made of lego that we tried to roll down a hill. It was supposed to replicate the boulder that ran down the hill in Indiana Jones.
It fell apart immediately.
Jay, you're awesome! Where do you see humanity and climate change in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years and 50 years?
If things continue the way they are (business as usual), in 50 years, the world is going to look completely different. There might be no polar bears around Hudson Bay, because there won't be any sea ice for them to hunt on. We've already seen how the weather is changing, and it might be unrecognizable. The oceans will not only have washed away coastal cities, but will be so acidic that major forms of marine life will not exist. It's inevitable that there will be effects that we haven't even dreamed of as well.
In your opinion, is there any particular scientific fact that stands out as being extremely amazing?
Yes. The Big Bang. When you realize that the universe is impossibly huge today, it's mind-blowing to think that if you go back 13.7 billion years, it was impossibly tiny.
Thanks for doing this AMA! What is your favourite question that you're answering in The Science of Why 2?
How about I give you a couple?
Are we living in a computer simulation?
Why do I get hiccups, and how can I make mine stop?
What do you think of the sudden concentration on the colonization of Mars? Should our efforts not be concentrated on reparation of our home or is our planet already too far gone?
No, I wouldn't say the planet is too far gone. And I think that you make a good point when you say, "Should our efforts not be concentrated on reparation of our home?" However, some of those who are most vocal about going to Mars, like Stephen Hawking, think that's our best hope––to get off the planet. Whether we could ever alter Mars to make it more like Earth is an open question. It's called terraforming, and many scientists think it could be done.
Thank you for doing this AmA! I loved watching you on daily planet!
What was your favourite segment you did for the show?
Which technology or invention did you research that never made the show?
Thank you again!
My favourite was the time I went Gombe, Jane Goodall's Chimpanzee reserve. We followed a chimp named Patty around from 6:30 in the morning until it got dark at night, and sometimes she took us right through the heart of the jungle.
You're second question is hard to answer, because hosts like me don't do the research producers do. There's no doubt that some producer some time researched a technology that never made it on the show.
There are videos of polar bears on your Twitter.. Did you ever get to pet one? Are they as fluffy and cuddly as they look?
I was up in Churchill, MB just a couple of weeks ago. They LOOKED really fluffy and cuddly, but if you reach out your hand to pat them, they will eat it. I'm not exaggerating. When you're out on the Tundra, it would be very foolhardy to approach a polar bear, or even be on the ground in the vicinity of one.
literally just made an account to post to you!!!
Hi!!! I loved you on Daily Planet, that was basically my childhood! Do you miss doing the show??
I have a lot of friends who still work on the show, and I loved working with them, but after 16 years of doing daily television, I thought it was okay if I quit.
That has to be one of nature's cruelest tricks. They're way too adorable. Thank you for answering!
I still think they're cool! And even lovable. You just have to respect them.
You mentioned you've written fourteen books. Is there a particular work of yours that you feel is/was underappreciated?
I don't know about underappreciated, but I wrote a book a long time ago called The Burning House. It's a book about some of the weirdest kinds of brain science. I think 8 people bought it, but I've always thought the stories in it were really interesting, and I was surprised that it didn't sell more.
Hey Jay, I've heard you love birds. If you had to choose a national bird for Canada, What would it be?
The cowbird. People hate cowbirds, because they lay their eggs in other birds' nests. But why are they so common? It's our fault. We've continued to cut back the forests, and little birds that nest in the forest are now exposed to cowbirds. I see cowbirds as an indictment of human beings, and therefore should be our national bird.
Another reason to respect them is that they flourished when there were millions of bison. But when the bison virtually disappeared, they switched to cows. They're survivors.
Do you have any surprising interests or hobbies?
I invented a frisbee game in my backyard, and I'm the only one who has ever played it. Therefore, I hold all the records. I play the violin in a band. I love cooking.
Hi Jay! Long time fan, and love selling your book to people (I work in a bookstore).
What scientific endeavour are you most excited to find an answer to, that is still in the research process?
I'm really interested in the idea that we could extend the human lifespan. There are scientists who think, not only can we do that, but that we'll be able to do it fairly soon. For instance, change aging medically so that we could live to 150. I think that's going to be incredibly difficult. There are simple animals whose lifespans you can extend, but those are really simple. Our brains alone have more than 200 billion individual cells. How can you be sure that that can go on for another 20-30 years without breaking down in some way? The fact is, we don't even understand Alzheimer's disease yet.
Thanks for the response!
> The oceans will not only have washed away coastal cities, but will be so acidic that major forms of marine life will not exist.
How are we supposed to find any meaningful way to survive if/when this happens? Do you think the next world war will be fought over fresh water reserves?
That's a good question. Could a war be fought over water, climate refugees, agricultural resources? It may seem unlikely to us right now, but we should never be overconfident. The meaningful way to survive is to fight for what you think is right.
Do you generally know the answers to most of the questions in your book, or do you have to do research for them?
That's a good question. I have a clue to about 3/4 of them, but I always research, because there's inevitably cool details that I didn't know.
Those are awesome!! That first one is super Matrix-y. It's kinda messing with my brain to think about!
Yeah. The cool thing about this is, how would we ever know if we're really just like the SIMs, only 50 years from now when computers are all-powerful, and some kid is sitting in his basement running our civilization.
Have you ever met Bill Nye?
No. He hasn't met me either!