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.


EDIT: Thanks everyone for stopping in!

Comments: 72 • Responses: 22  • Date: 

KnavesinkBanks74 karma

I watched you on Daily Planet all the time as a kid! In the last decade, what was/is your favourite new technological invention?

JayIngramAuthor68 karma

CRISPR, the technology that allows super precise editing of DNA. It's going to have amazing effects.

canadian_hoser_eh34 karma

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?

JayIngramAuthor28 karma

I think quantum mechanics, a world that is completely alien to the world we experience in our daily lives.

IHeartDailyPlanet17 karma

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??

JayIngramAuthor21 karma

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.

btownetoronto12 karma

Sometimes I got the impression that you and Natasha didn't exactly get along... was it all in my head?

Also, I miss the days of Jay Ingram on Daily Planet.

JayIngramAuthor26 karma

Wow! I don't know how you got that impression (you did say it was all in your head). Natasha is a fantastic person, I loved working with her. She was funny, smart, and could swear like a trouper.

JustHereToConfirmIt12 karma

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?

JayIngramAuthor22 karma

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.

antiquark211 karma

In your opinion, is there any particular scientific fact that stands out as being extremely amazing?

JayIngramAuthor19 karma

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.

lunalannister8 karma

Hi Jay,

Thanks for doing this AMA! What is your favourite question that you're answering in The Science of Why 2?

JayIngramAuthor11 karma

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?

lunalannister3 karma

Those are awesome!! That first one is super Matrix-y. It's kinda messing with my brain to think about!

JayIngramAuthor10 karma

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.

reaper-wiggins6 karma

Hello Jay!

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!

JayIngramAuthor9 karma

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.

reaper-wiggins4 karma

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?

JayIngramAuthor13 karma

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.

JayIngramAuthor21 karma

It fell apart immediately.

Aquason6 karma

Do you have any surprising interests or hobbies?

JayIngramAuthor26 karma

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.

making_mischief4 karma

Jay, you're awesome! Where do you see humanity and climate change in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years and 50 years?

JayIngramAuthor9 karma

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.

making_mischief3 karma

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?

JayIngramAuthor4 karma

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.

Camsy343 karma

You mentioned you've written fourteen books. Is there a particular work of yours that you feel is/was underappreciated?

JayIngramAuthor13 karma

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.

Rockies_North2 karma

Hey Jay, I've heard you love birds. If you had to choose a national bird for Canada, What would it be?

JayIngramAuthor9 karma

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.

JayIngramAuthor10 karma

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.

qwkthrow2 karma

Do you generally know the answers to most of the questions in your book, or do you have to do research for them?

JayIngramAuthor2 karma

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.

lunalannister1 karma

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?

JayIngramAuthor8 karma

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.

lunalannister2 karma

That has to be one of nature's cruelest tricks. They're way too adorable. Thank you for answering!

JayIngramAuthor5 karma

I still think they're cool! And even lovable. You just have to respect them.

allieboballie81 karma

Have you ever met Bill Nye?

JayIngramAuthor11 karma

No. He hasn't met me either!

pixiedoesthings1 karma

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?

JayIngramAuthor7 karma

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.