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470Episodes
Category: Science

A fun take on the latest science news with enough data to sink your teeth into. Lagrange Point goes beyond the glossy summary and gets in depth with the research from across the world.

January 24, 2022

Episode 467 - Repairing throats and better implants

How can we make stronger implants that don't get rejected by the body? Bioactive materials can help make implants feel more at home. Replacing a knee or a hip requires not just strength but also compatibility. A new coating method makes it easier for implants to fit in. An implant has to be strong yet flexible, friendly to cells but not bacteria - it's challenging. Your vocal chords are subject to extreme forces, so how can we design an implant to repair them? Hydro-gels can help repair damaged organs and tissue even in extreme environments like your vocal chods.

  1. Imran Deen, Gurpreet Singh Selopal, Zhiming M. Wang, Federico Rosei. Electrophoretic deposition of collagen/chitosan films with copper-doped phosphate glasses for orthopaedic implantsJournal of Colloid and Interface Science, 2022; 607: 869 DOI: 10.1016/j.jcis.2021.08.199
  2. Sareh Taheri, Guangyu Bao, Zixin He, Sepideh Mohammadi, Hossein Ravanbakhsh, Larry Lessard, Jianyu Li, Luc Mongeau. Injectable, Pore‐Forming, Perfusable Double‐Network Hydrogels Resilient to Extreme Biomechanical StimulationsAdvanced Science, 2021; 2102627 DOI: 10.1002/advs.202102627
January 17, 2022

Episode 466 - Tsunamis, underwater volcanoes and magnetic fields

When Tsunami's strike, every extra minute of notice can help save lives. How can scientists better predict the height and journey of a tsunami? We look at the ways scientists can use tectonic plates or magnetic fields to improve tsunami predictions. Where an earthquake occurs can make a big difference to the size of a tsunami. The shallower an earthquake in a thinner sub-ducting plate can lead to higher tsunamis. When you move a large amount of sea-water the earths magnetic field changes, just enough to detect. Like reading the vibrations in seismic waves, earth's magnetic field changes enough for you to identify a tsunami. Using magnetic fields you can measure and asses the height of a tsunami much faster.

  1. Zhiheng Lin, Hiroaki Toh, Takuto Minami. Direct Comparison of the Tsunami‐Generated Magnetic Field With Sea Level Change for the 2009 Samoa and 2010 Chile TsunamisJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 2021; 126 (11) DOI: 10.1029/2021JB022760
  2. Kwok Fai Cheung, Thorne Lay, Lin Sun, Yoshiki Yamazaki. Tsunami size variability with rupture depthNature Geoscience, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41561-021-00869-z
January 10, 2022

Episode 465 - Hedgehogs to mouthwash - Strange tales of the war against bacteria

From Hedgehogs to mouthwash, we check in on the arms race against bacteria. MRSA super-bugs are a super problem for humans, but some pre-date the modern era. MRSA super-bugs have been around since the Industrial revolution, at least on hedgehogs. The skin of hedgehogs is a battlefield between Fungus and Bacteria, and whoever wins, we loose. We often focus on Humans vs Bacteria, but it's actually a triple threat with Fungus. The fight Fungus vs Bacteria can lead to the development of antibiotic resistance. The mouth is the gate in the castle like defenses of the human immune system, so what defends it from bacteria attackers? If you have periodontal disease, it can make it easier for other viruses to get into your body. Keeping your mouth free of bacteria plaque can keep your defense against other infections high.

  1. Jesper Larsen, Claire L. Raisen, Xiaoliang Ba, Nicholas J. Sadgrove, Guillermo F. Padilla-González, Monique S. J. Simmonds, Igor Loncaric, Heidrun Kerschner, Petra Apfalter, Rainer Hartl, Ariane Deplano, Stien Vandendriessche, Barbora Černá Bolfíková, Pavel Hulva, Maiken C. Arendrup, Rasmus K. Hare, Céline Barnadas, Marc Stegger, Raphael N. Sieber, Robert L. Skov, Andreas Petersen, Øystein Angen, Sophie L. Rasmussen, Carmen Espinosa-Gongora, Frank M. Aarestrup, Laura J. Lindholm, Suvi M. Nykäsenoja, Frederic Laurent, Karsten Becker, Birgit Walther, Corinna Kehrenberg, Christiane Cuny, Franziska Layer, Guido Werner, Wolfgang Witte, Ivonne Stamm, Paolo Moroni, Hannah J. Jørgensen, Hermínia de Lencastre, Emilia Cercenado, Fernando García-Garrote, Stefan Börjesson, Sara Hæggman, Vincent Perreten, Christopher J. Teale, Andrew S. Waller, Bruno Pichon, Martin D. Curran, Matthew J. Ellington, John J. Welch, Sharon J. Peacock, David J. Seilly, Fiona J. E. Morgan, Julian Parkhill, Nazreen F. Hadjirin, Jodi A. Lindsay, Matthew T. G. Holden, Giles F. Edwards, Geoffrey Foster, Gavin K. Paterson, Xavier Didelot, Mark A. Holmes, Ewan M. Harrison, Anders R. Larsen. Emergence of methicillin resistance predates the clinical use of antibioticsNature, 2022; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-04265-w
  2. Carlos J. Rodriguez-Hernandez, Kevin J. Sokoloski, Kendall S. Stocke, Himabindu Dukka, Shunying Jin, Melissa A. Metzler, Konstantin Zaitsev, Boris Shpak, Daonan Shen, Daniel P. Miller, Maxim N. Artyomov, Richard J. Lamont, Juhi Bagaitkar. Microbiome-mediated incapacitation of interferon lambda production in the oral mucosaProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (51): e2105170118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2105170118
January 3, 2022

Episode 464 - Rogue Planets and glass in meteorites

Rogue planets hurtling across space without a place to call home. How do we detect intergalactic nomads like Rogue planets? Just how many rogue planets are out there? Are there rogue planets lurking in our own solar system? Glass inside meteorites can help us understand early earth. How does meteorite rock differ from rock here on earth? What can we piece together about the cataclysmic events that formed glass inside meteorites? Rapidly heating then even more rapidly cooling coalesced glass inside meteorites.

  1. Núria Miret-Roig, Hervé Bouy, Sean N. Raymond, Motohide Tamura, Emmanuel Bertin, David Barrado, Javier Olivares, Phillip A. B. Galli, Jean-Charles Cuillandre, Luis Manuel Sarro, Angel Berihuete, Nuria Huélamo. A rich population of free-floating planets in the Upper Scorpius young stellar association. Nature Astronomy, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-021-01513-x
  2. Nicole X. Nie, Xin-Yang Chen, Timo Hopp, Justin Y. Hu, Zhe J. Zhang, Fang-Zhen Teng, Anat Shahar, Nicolas Dauphas. Imprint of chondrule formation on the K and Rb isotopic compositions of carbonaceous meteorites. Science Advances, 2021; 7 (49) DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abl3929
December 27, 2021

Episode 463 - Unlocking former junk DNA in Rice to feed the planet

How was rice turned from a wild grass into a staple crop for over 3 billion people? What secrets are lurking in the 'junk' DNA of rice that can explain it's transformation? What parts of the rice genome have been long overlooked? Can non protein coding parts of a genome help define important traits for plants and animals? Proteins aren't everything; unlocking the secrets of the rice genome.  How can we boost rice yields and rice bran oil content?

  1. X. M. Zheng, J. Chen, H. B. Pang, S. Liu, Q. Gao, J. R. Wang, W. H. Qiao, H. Wang, J. Liu, K. M. Olsen, and Q. W. Yang. Genome-wide analyses reveal the role of noncoding variation in complex traits during rice domestication. Science Advances, 2019 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax3619
  2. Ze‐Hua Guo, Richard P. Haslam, Louise V Michaelson, Edward C. Yeung, Shiu‐Cheung Lung, Johnathan A. Napier, Mee‐Len Chye. The overexpression of rice ACYL ‐ CoA ‐ BINDING PROTEIN 2 increases grain size and bran oil content in transgenic rice. The Plant Journal, 2019; 100 (6): 1132 DOI: 10.1111/tpj.14503
December 20, 2021

Episode 462 - Fish helping make smart materials and renewable tech

What can fish scales teach us about the next generation of smart materials. Why is 'scale armor' often found in video games and on fish so strong? What is special about fish scales that can help us make a new generation of smart materials for clothing and structures? What do 35 million year old fish trapped in mud have to do with wind turbines and batteries? Renewable tech relies on Rare earth metals, so where do we find them? Studying fossilized fish can help us find more sources of rare earth metals to build more renewable tech.

  1. Haocheng Quan, Wen Yang, Marine Lapeyriere, Eric Schaible, Robert O. Ritchie, Marc A. Meyers. Structure and Mechanical Adaptability of a Modern Elasmoid Fish Scale from the Common CarpMatter, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.matt.2020.05.011
  2. Junichiro Ohta, Kazutaka Yasukawa, Tatsuo Nozaki, Yutaro Takaya, Kazuhide Mimura, Koichiro Fujinaga, Kentaro Nakamura, Yoichi Usui, Jun-Ichi Kimura, Qing Chang, Yasuhiro Kato. Fish proliferation and rare-earth deposition by topographically induced upwelling at the late Eocene cooling eventScientific Reports, 2020; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-66835-8
December 13, 2021

Episode 461 - What trees can help save a city

Planting trees can help save the planet, but which trees should you plant? How do you decide what trees to plant and where to help the environment and people? Trees can help reduce pollution in the air and ground, so where are they most effective in a city? Planting urban trees can have significant public health benefits, but what trees are most effective to plant? Just what exactly is grass? How can detailed modeling and genetic testing help solve the riddle of grass classification? Are grass leaves and sheathes one thing, or is it stem and leaf like a tree?

  1. A. E. Richardson, J. Cheng, R. Johnston, R. Kennaway, B. R. Conlon, A. B. Rebocho, H. Kong, M. J. Scanlon, S. Hake, E. Coen. Evolution of the grass leaf by primordium extension and petiole-lamina remodelingScience, 2021; 374 (6573): 1377 DOI: 10.1126/science.abf9407
  2. Loren P. Hopkins, Deborah J. January‐Bevers, Erin K. Caton, Laura A. Campos. A simple tree planting framework to improve climate, air pollution, health, and urban heat in vulnerable locations using non‐traditional partnersPLANTS, PEOPLE, PLANET, 2021; DOI: 10.1002/ppp3.10245
December 6, 2021

Episode 460 - What shape is the heliosphere

Just what is the heliosphere and how doe sit work? What shape is the heliosphere (spoiler alert, probably not a sphere). At the very edge of our solar system lies the boundary between our neighborhood and interstellar space. Do outside forces from interstellar space jumble up the heliosphere? Sandwiched between Space and the Earth, the Ionsphere buzzes and hums with a pulsing generator. Winds from earth can bend and shape plasma in our ionsphere to make a generator. Moving a conducting object through a magnetic field can generate electricty, and its happening right now 100km above our heads.

  1. M. Opher, J. F. Drake, G. Zank, E. Powell, W. Shelley, M. Kornbleuth, V. Florinski, V. Izmodenov, J. Giacalone, S. Fuselier, K. Dialynas, A. Loeb, J. Richardson. A Turbulent Heliosheath Driven by the Rayleigh–Taylor InstabilityThe Astrophysical Journal, 2021; 922 (2): 181 DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ac2d2e
  2. Thomas J. Immel, Brian J. Harding, Roderick A. Heelis, Astrid Maute, Jeffrey M. Forbes, Scott L. England, Stephen B. Mende, Christoph R. Englert, Russell A. Stoneback, Kenneth Marr, John M. Harlander, Jonathan J. Makela. Regulation of ionospheric plasma velocities by thermospheric windsNature Geoscience, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41561-021-00848-4
November 29, 2021

Episode 459 - Bees that eat meat, and Ants with a social stomach

Bees seem friendly and sweet, but what about a bee that eats meat? What has to happen to allow a bee to consume meat instead of pollen. What does honey produced by meat eating bees taste like? How do meat eating bees bite into their food? How different is the stomach of a meat eating bee from it's vegetarian cousins?Forget photos of food on social networks, ants have a whole social stomach for exchanging proteins. Ants carry and exchange all sorts of fluids to help parts of the colony at the right time. Ants second stomach does not contain food but is used to help process fluids for the colony.

  1. Laura L. Figueroa, Jessica J. Maccaro, Erin Krichilsky, Douglas Yanega, Quinn S. McFrederick. Why Did the Bee Eat the Chicken? Symbiont Gain, Loss, and Retention in the Vulture Bee MicrobiomemBio, 2021; DOI: 10.1128/mBio.02317-21
  2. Sanja M Hakala, Marie-Pierre Meurville, Michael Stumpe, Adria C LeBoeuf. Biomarkers in a socially exchanged fluid reflect colony maturity, behavior and distributed metabolismeLife, 2021; 10 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.74005
November 22, 2021

Episode 458 - Molecular methods to fight fungi and bacteria

There's a public health crisis looming beyond the pandemic. Researchers across the world are working to stop the next public health disaster - the rise of antibiotic resistance. We rely on antibiotics to treat various disease but their effectiveness wanes as bacteria builds its resistance. How do we keep track of the changes in bacteria's resistance to antibiotics? What do bird droppings in Cambridge tell us about antibiotic resistance? Developing new antibiotics is tricky, what part of bacteria do you target? Is it better to have a simple molecule or a complex one when tackling bacteria? Bursting the bacteria cell is one way to defeat but its even better to break their building blocks. Fungal infections are growing more resistant to treatment. How can we devleop new categories of anti-fungal treatments?
References

  1. Joana G. C. Rodrigues, Harisree P. Nair, Christopher O'Kane, Caray A. Walker. Prevalence of multidrug resistance in Pseudomonas spp. isolated from wild bird feces in an urban aquatic environmentEcology and Evolution, 2021; 11 (20): 14303 DOI: 10.1002/ece3.8146
  2. Elisabeth Reithuber, Torbjörn Wixe, Kevin C. Ludwig, Anna Müller, Hanna Uvell, Fabian Grein, Anders E. G. Lindgren, Sandra Muschiol, Priyanka Nannapaneni, Anna Eriksson, Tanja Schneider, Staffan Normark, Birgitta Henriques-Normark, Fredrik Almqvist, Peter Mellroth. THCz: Small molecules with antimicrobial activity that block cell wall lipid intermediatesProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (47): e2108244118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2108244118
  3. Christian DeJarnette, Chris J. Meyer, Alexander R. Jenner, Arielle Butts, Tracy Peters, Martin N. Cheramie, Gregory A. Phelps, Nicole A. Vita, Victoria C. Loudon-Hossler, Richard E. Lee, Glen E. Palmer. Identification of Inhibitors of Fungal Fatty Acid BiosynthesisACS Infectious Diseases, 2021; DOI: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.1c00404
November 15, 2021

Episode 457 - Not so Empty Space near Earth

Space  is big and vast, but whilst not densely packed like in Sci Fi, there's still so much going on around Earth's orbit. Mapping out the local neighborhood around Earth's orbit is tricky but important work. We think we have an idea about most Near Earth Asteroids but occasionally they can sneak up on is. A chip off the old block of the Moon has become one of our newest near Earth Objects. How we clean up space junk without touching it or grabbing it with a rocket? Can magnets help us handle delicate space junk? A satellite spiraling out of control is not an easy object to tame and de-orbit.

  1. Benjamin N. L. Sharkey, Vishnu Reddy, Renu Malhotra, Audrey Thirouin, Olga Kuhn, Albert Conrad, Barry Rothberg, Juan A. Sanchez, David Thompson, Christian Veillet. Lunar-like silicate material forms the Earth quasi-satellite (469219) 2016 HO3 KamoʻoalewaCommunications Earth & Environment, 2021; 2 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s43247-021-00303-7
  2. Lan N. Pham, Griffin F. Tabor, Ashkan Pourkand, Jacob L. B. Aman, Tucker Hermans, Jake J. Abbott. Dexterous magnetic manipulation of conductive non-magnetic objectsNature, 2021; 598 (7881): 439 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03966-6
November 8, 2021

Episode 456 - Responding rapidly to bad smells

How does our brain filter and process all those smells? Our brain has a lot of dedicated space for smells, but knowing which is which is tricky. How does our brain respond so quickly to bad smells? We will move out of the way of a bad smell fast. In under half a second you brain can detect and move away from a bad smell. Why are our brains hard wired to detect and react to the smell of caramel? Furaneol gives off a caramel like smell and is found in fruits and even bread. Why does our brain dedicate space to it? What is better at waking you up - a good smell or a bad smell? How do brains process smells even whens sleeping?

  1. Behzad Iravani, Martin Schaefer, Donald A. Wilson, Artin Arshamian, Johan N. Lundström. The human olfactory bulb processes odor valence representation and cues motor avoidance behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (42): e2101209118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2101209118
  2. Franziska Haag, Sandra Hoffmann, Dietmar Krautwurst. Key Food Furanones Furaneol and Sotolone Specifically Activate Distinct Odorant Receptors. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2021; 69 (37): 10999 DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.1c03314
  3. Alice S. French, Quentin Geissmann, Esteban J. Beckwith, Giorgio F. Gilestro. Sensory processing during sleep in Drosophila melanogaster. Nature, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03954-w
November 1, 2021

Episode 455 - Growing rocket fuel on Mars and greener jet fuel on earth

Growing rocket fuel on the surface of Mars, and greener jet fuel here on earth. The problem with space travel is you have to take everything with you. Including fuel. Is there a way to grow your own fuel to make the load lighter on a rocket? A round trip to Mars needs billions of dollars of fuel. Is there a way we can reduce cost and energy by producing rocket fuel on the surface of Mars? How can you grow rocket fuel on mars using microbes? Would the same rocket fuel you use on Earth make sense to use on Mars? How can we clean up the aviation industry's carbon emissions? Are there alternative jet fuels that don't come at the expense of growing food? Bio-fuels are often produced at the expense of food, but are there alternatives that are win win? 
References:

  1. Nicholas S. Kruyer, Matthew J. Realff, Wenting Sun, Caroline L. Genzale, Pamela Peralta-Yahya. Designing the bioproduction of Martian rocket propellant via a biotechnology-enabled in situ resource utilization strategyNature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-26393-7
  2. Asiful Alam, Md Farhad Hossain Masum, Puneet Dwivedi. Break-even price and carbon emissions of carinata-based sustainable aviation fuel production in the Southeastern United StatesGCB Bioenergy, 2021 DOI: 10.1111/.1gcbb2888
October 25, 2021

Episode 454 - Evolution‘s strange journeys in crabs, snakes and lizards

Why does nature continually evolve crabs? What is so good about crabs that nature just cannot stop inventing it? How can you trap a crab inside amber? What can a fossilized crab, capture din amber tell us about the complex history of crabs? Just when did crabs invade land and how did they get stuck in tree sap? How do you preserve  fossil as delicate as a crab? How did lizards and snakes develop their complex teeth? Mammals weren't the only ones to evolve complex teeth with cusps. Evolution isn't necessarily a one way progression, sometimes complexity can be rolled back like in lizards. Lizards developed complex teeth to eat plants, but then some went back to their old ways.
References:

  1. Keiler, J., Wirkner, C., & Richter, S. (2017). One hundred years of carcinization – the evolution of the crab-like habitus in Anomura (Arthropoda: Crustacea). Biological Journal Of The Linnean Society121(1), 200-222. doi: 10.1093/biolinnean/blw031
  2. Watson, S. (2021). Why everything eventually becomes a crab. Retrieved 23 October 2021, from https://www.popsci.com/story/animals/why-everything-becomes-crab-meme-carcinization/
  3. Fabien Lafuma, Ian J. Corfe, Julien Clavel, Nicolas Di-Po�. Multiple evolutionary origins and losses of tooth complexity in squamatesNature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-26285-w
October 18, 2021

Episode 453 - The early days of our solar system

Studying the earliest days of our solar system by looking at meteorites. We don't have to travel to asteroids or dwarf planets in order to study their geology. By studying meteorites we can piece together the mystery behind the formation of our solar system. Asteroids seem to be 'missing' mantle like rock, so how can we find it by studying meteorites? Some meteorites can capture like a time capsule pieces from our early solar system. Some of this leftover bits from the early days of our solar system contain raw pieces from other stars. Sometimes in meteorites you can find matter that has traveled all the way from other stars.
References:

  1. Nan Liu, Barosch Jens, Larry R. Nittler, Conel M. O'D. Alexander, Jianhua Wang, Sergio Cristallo, Maurizio Busso, and Sara Palmerini. New multielement isotopic compositions of presolar SiC grains: implications for their stellar originsThe Astrophysical Journal Letters, 2021 DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ac260b
  2. Zoltan Vaci, James M. D. Day, Marine Paquet, Karen Ziegler, Qing-Zhu Yin, Supratim Dey, Audrey Miller, Carl Agee, Rainer Bartoschewitz, Andreas Pack. Olivine-rich achondrites from Vesta and the missing mantle problemNature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-25808-9
  3. Meng-Hua Zhu, Alessandro Morbidelli, Wladimir Neumann, Qing-Zhu Yin, James M. D. Day, David C. Rubie, Gregory J. Archer, Natalia Artemieva, Harry Becker, Kai Wünnemann. Common feedstocks of late accretion for the terrestrial planetsNature Astronomy, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-021-01475-0
October 11, 2021

Episode 452 - Eureka Prizes 21 - Fighting back against viruses

We celebrate the winners of the Eureka Prizes in 2021. The top prizes in Aussie Science shows that it's possible for major science awards to not be male dominated.  Are humans just the collateral damage of the war between cholera and protozoa? How does getting eaten actually make cholera stronger? We celebrate the achievements of Australian scientists helping make rotavirus vaccines more accessible for all. Producing vaccines cheaply and locally, that are easy to roll out can save half a million lives each year. Whilst vaccines for rotavirus exist already they are complex and costly. Aussie researchers are helping make it simpler and widely available.

References:

  1. Gustavo Espinoza-Vergara, Parisa Noorian, Cecilia A. Silva-Valenzuela, Benjamin B. A. Raymond, Christopher Allen, M. Mozammel Hoque, Shuyang Sun, Michael S. Johnson, Mathieu Pernice, Staffan Kjelleberg, Steven P. Djordjevic, Maurizio Labbate, Andrew Camilli, Diane McDougald. Vibrio cholerae residing in food vacuoles expelled by protozoa are more infectious in vivoNature Microbiology, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41564-019-0563-x
  2. Bines, J., At Thobari, J., Satria, C., Handley, A., Watts, E., & Cowley, D. et al. (2018). Human Neonatal Rotavirus Vaccine (RV3-BB) to Target Rotavirus from Birth. New England Journal Of Medicine378(8), 719-730. doi: 10.1056/nejmoa1706804
  3. Mannix, L. (2021). Eureka science prizes go to childhood vaccine and microplastics hotspot hunt. Retrieved 9 October 2021, from https://www.smh.com.au/national/childhood-vaccine-microplastics-hotspot-hunt-take-top-science-gongs-20211007-p58xyi.html
  4. Protozoans and pathogens make for an infectious mix. (2021). Retrieved 9 October 2021, from https://www.uts.edu.au/news/health-science/protozoans-and-pathogens-make-infectious-mix
  5. Tu, J. (2021). Meet the women transforming science in Australia: Eureka Prize finalists. Retrieved 9 October 2021, from https://womensagenda.com.au/latest/meet-the-women-transforming-science-in-australia-eureka-prize-finalists/
October 11, 2021

Episode 452 - Eureka Prizes 21 - Fighting back against viruses

We celebrate the winners of the Eureka Prizes in 2021. The top prizes in Aussie Science shows that it's possible for major science awards to not be male dominated.  Are humans just the collateral damage of the war between cholera and protozoa? How does getting eaten actually make cholera stronger? We celebrate the achievements of Australian scientists helping make rotavirus vaccines more accessible for all. Producing vaccines cheaply and locally, that are easy to roll out can save half a million lives each year. Whilst vaccines for rotavirus exist already they are complex and costly. Aussie researchers are helping make it simpler and widely available.

References:

  1. Gustavo Espinoza-Vergara, Parisa Noorian, Cecilia A. Silva-Valenzuela, Benjamin B. A. Raymond, Christopher Allen, M. Mozammel Hoque, Shuyang Sun, Michael S. Johnson, Mathieu Pernice, Staffan Kjelleberg, Steven P. Djordjevic, Maurizio Labbate, Andrew Camilli, Diane McDougald. Vibrio cholerae residing in food vacuoles expelled by protozoa are more infectious in vivoNature Microbiology, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41564-019-0563-x
  2. Bines, J., At Thobari, J., Satria, C., Handley, A., Watts, E., & Cowley, D. et al. (2018). Human Neonatal Rotavirus Vaccine (RV3-BB) to Target Rotavirus from Birth. New England Journal Of Medicine378(8), 719-730. doi: 10.1056/nejmoa1706804
  3. Mannix, L. (2021). Eureka science prizes go to childhood vaccine and microplastics hotspot hunt. Retrieved 9 October 2021, from https://www.smh.com.au/national/childhood-vaccine-microplastics-hotspot-hunt-take-top-science-gongs-20211007-p58xyi.html
  4. Protozoans and pathogens make for an infectious mix. (2021). Retrieved 9 October 2021, from https://www.uts.edu.au/news/health-science/protozoans-and-pathogens-make-infectious-mix
  5. Tu, J. (2021). Meet the women transforming science in Australia: Eureka Prize finalists. Retrieved 9 October 2021, from https://womensagenda.com.au/latest/meet-the-women-transforming-science-in-australia-eureka-prize-finalists/
October 4, 2021

Episode 451 - Microbes and Metals as allies and enemies

Microbes and metals as enemies and allies. Metals can have superb antimicrobial properties but they're not ideal for making sheets...unless. Using a melt in your hand melt, and some copper you can make antimicrobial sheets and masks. Metals are great at fighting microbes but are challenging to make comfortable to wear. Is it possible to get a bio drive fuel cell? Bacteria can be used to clean up waste, but can they also make electricity at the same time? Cleaning up pollution and producing renewable electricity, what's not to love about the bacteria Shenwanella. With metallic tinged skin, bacteria can be boosted into a garbage eating electricity producing machine.

  1. Ki Yoon Kwon, Samuel Cheeseman, Alba Frias‐De‐Diego, Haeleen Hong, Jiayi Yang, Woojin Jung, Hong Yin, Billy J. Murdoch, Frank Scholle, Nathan Crook, Elisa Crisci, Michael D. Dickey, Vi Khanh Truong, Tae‐il Kim. A Liquid Metal Mediated Metallic Coating for Antimicrobial and Antiviral FabricsAdvanced Materials, 2021; 2104298 DOI: 10.1002/adma.202104298
  2. Bocheng Cao, Zipeng Zhao, Lele Peng, Hui-Ying Shiu, Mengning Ding, Frank Song, Xun Guan, Calvin K. Lee, Jin Huang, Dan Zhu, Xiaoyang Fu, Gerard C. L. Wong, Chong Liu, Kenneth Nealson, Paul S. Weiss, Xiangfeng Duan, Yu Huang. Silver nanoparticles boost charge-extraction efficiency in Shewanella microbial fuel cellsScience, 2021; 373 (6561): 1336 DOI: 10.1126/science.abf3427
September 27, 2021

Episode 450 - Dating lobsters and islands under the sea

Dating lobsters can be tricky and not just because they pinch. We think lobsters can live for decades or centuries, but we can't actually track their age. Just how do you find out a creatures age without dissecting them? Tracking a creatures age is tricky when they cast away alot of signs of physical growth. How can there tightly knit families spread across huge distances in the sea that are somehow connected? How do genetic islands form inside the oceans? What can chaos, larvae and Antarctica tell us about genetic diversity?

  1. Eleanor A. Fairfield, David S. Richardson, Carly L. Daniels, Christopher L. Butler, Ewen Bell, Martin I. Taylor. Ageing European lobsters ( Homarus gammarus ) using DNA methylation of evolutionarily conserved ribosomal DNAEvolutionary Applications, 2021; DOI: 10.1111/eva.13296
  2. David L. J. Vendrami, Lloyd S. Peck, Melody S. Clark, Bjarki Eldon, Michael Meredith, Joseph I. Hoffman. Sweepstake reproductive success and collective dispersal produce chaotic genetic patchiness in a broadcast spawnerScience Advances, 2021; 7 (37) DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abj4713
September 20, 2021

Episode 449 - Ig nobel ‘21 Part 2- Weaving and colliding in crowds

We celebrate the greatest scientific awards night, the 31st Ig Nobel Prizes. In this multi part special we find out about the history of the Ig Nobel prizes and some of the more well known examples from storied history. Who came home with the top prize this year in the Ig Nobel's? How can you navigate a crowd safely? What's the best way to model a busy train station? Does using a phone make it harder to navigate a crowd safely? Do people coordinate and work together to make through a rush hour crowd? Does a crowd self organise into lanes to navigate a busy intersection?

References:

  1. Physics-based modeling and data representation of pairwise interactions among pedestrians,” Alessandro Corbetta, Jasper A. Meeusen, Chung-min Lee, Roberto Benzi, and Federico Toschi, Physical Review E, vol. 98, no. 062310, 2018.
    WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: Alessandro Corbetta, Jasper Meeusen, Chung-min Lee, Roberto Benzi,, Federico Toschi
  2. Mutual Anticipation Can Contribute to Self-Organization in Human Crowds,” Hisashi Murakami, Claudio Feliciani, Yuta Nishiyama, and Katsuhiro Nishinari, Science Advances, vol. 7, no. 12, 2021, p. eabe7758.