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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.

March 23, 2020

Episode 371 - Marine Mammals vs Parasites

Its a battle between Marine Mammals and Parasites. How does an opossum parasite start killing sea otters?  In #2020MMM unexpected combatants can ruin your day, just like how opossum parasites are taking out sea otters. How does a parasite make a long journey from land to end up out at sea? Inside raw fish, parasitic worm populations are booming. This is bad news for marine mammals. Conserving marine mammals can be a delicate balancing act as parasite populations can also start to thrive.

  1. Tristan L. Burgess, M. Tim Tinker, Melissa A. Miller, Woutrina A. Smith, James L. Bodkin, Michael J. Murray, Linda M. Nichol, Justin A. Saarinen, Shawn Larson, Joseph A. Tomoleoni, Patricia A. Conrad, Christine K. Johnson. Spatial epidemiological patterns suggest mechanisms of land-sea transmission for Sarcocystis neurona in a coastal marine mammaTlScientific Reports, 2020; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-60254-5
  2. Evan A. Fiorenza, Catrin A. Wendt, Katie A. Dobkowski, Teri L. King, Marguerite Pappaionou, Peter Rabinowitz, Jameal F. Samhouri, Chelsea L. Wood. It’s a wormy world: Meta-analysis reveals several decades of change in the global abundance of the parasitic nematodes Anisakis spp. and Pseudoterranova spp. in marine fishes and invertebratesGlobal Change Biology, 2020; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.15048
March 16, 2020

Episode 370 - Explosions in space and citizen science

From galactic explosions, and waiting for supernova space is full of mysteries. What happens when a super massive black hole in a massive galaxy cluster...erupts? A massive explosion shred a hole 15 times larger than the Milky Way. What is happening with Betelgeuse? Could Betelgeuse just have shed it's coat? Is Betelgeuse about to go 'nova or is something else happening?   We find out about galactic research you can do from your couch. Tracing out a spiral is easy for humans to do, so why not help trace out a galaxy? Looking for something to do at home, why not citizen science helping trace galaxies?

  1. S. Giacintucci, M. Markevitch, M. Johnston-Hollitt, D. R. Wik, Q. H. S. Wang, T. E. Clarke. Discovery of a giant radio fossil in the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster. The Astrophysical Journal, 2020 [link]
  2. Patrick Treuthardt, Ian B Hewitt. Comparison of galaxy spiral arm pitch angle measurements using manual and automated techniques. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2020; 493 (3): 3854 DOI: 10.1093/mnras/staa354
  3. Emily M. Levesque, Philip Massey. Betelgeuse Just Isn't That Cool: Effective Temperature Alone Cannot Explain the Recent Dimming of Betelgeuse. submitted to arXiv, 2020 [link]
March 9, 2020

Episode 369 - 2020MMM, Endangered species and City Foxes

Conservation, Adaptation and March mammal madness, an animal special. What is the difference between an urban and a country fox? Why is an city fox bolder than a country fox? How many eels can you fit in a kilogram bucket? How do critically endangered eels end up on the supermarket shelves? How do you smuggle vast quantities of eel across borders? 

Hindie, K. March Mammal Madness 2020. Retrieved from http://mammalssuck.blogspot.com/2020/02/march-mammal-madness-2020.html 

Sophia E. Kimmig, Joscha Beninde, Miriam Brandt, Anna Schleimer, Stephanie Kramer‐Schadt, Heribert Hofer, Konstantin Börner, Christoph Schulze, Ulrich Wittstatt, Mike Heddergott, Tanja Halczok, Christoph Staubach, Alain C. Frantz. Beyond the landscape: Resistance modelling infers physical and behavioural gene flow barriers to a mobile carnivore across a metropolitan area. Molecular Ecology, 2020; 29 (3): 466 DOI: 10.1111/mec.15345

John L. Richards, Victoria Sheng, Chung Wing Yi, Chan Lai Ying, Ng Sin Ting, Yvonne Sadovy, David Baker. Prevalence of critically endangered European eel (Anguilla anguilla) in Hong Kong supermarkets. Science Advances, 2020; 6 (10): eaay0317 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay0317

March 2, 2020

Episode 368 - Brain injuries, epilepsy and treatment options

How can we give better quality of life for those suffering from neurological conditions? Getting a concussion is bad enough, but why do people often develop epilepsy afterwards? What is the link between concussions and epilepsy? How can we effectively reduce the risk of epilepsy after a concussion? For certain epilepsy conditions in children, CBD can help reduce seizure risk, but what type is best? Is pharmaceutical or artisan CBD for children with epilepsy?

  1. Akshata A. Korgaonkar, Ying Li, Dipika Sekhar, Deepak Subramanian, Jenieve Guevarra, Bogumila Swietek, Alexandra Pallottie, Sukwinder Singh, Kruthi Kella, Stella Elkabes, Vijayalakshmi Santhakumar. Toll‐like Receptor 4 Signaling in Neurons Enhances Calcium‐Permeable α‐Amino‐3‐Hydroxy‐5‐Methyl‐4‐Isoxazolepropionic Acid Receptor Currents and Drives Post‐Traumatic EpileptogenesisAnnals of Neurology, 2020; DOI: 10.1002/ana.25698
  2. American Academy of Neurology. (2020, February 27). Artisanal CBD not as effective as pharmaceutical CBD for reducing seizures. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 29, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200227160545.htm
February 24, 2020

Episode 367 - Sustainable and green Chemistry

Making chemistry green and sustainable, from cheaper catalyst to sorting solvents. How can you make catalysts cheaper and re-usable? Is there a cheaper catalyst to breakdown CO2? How can we make a circular carbon economy? Solvents play an important role in chemistry so how do you greenly find the right match? Green chemistry can be made more efficient using CO2.

  1. Youngdong Song, Ercan Ozdemir, Sreerangappa Ramesh, Aldiar Adishev, Saravanan Subramanian, Aadesh Harale, Mohammed Albuali, Bandar Abdullah Fadhel, Aqil Jamal, Dohyun Moon, Sun Hee Choi, Cafer T. Yavuz. Dry reforming of methane by stable Ni–Mo nanocatalysts on single-crystalline MgOScience, 2020; 367 (6479): 777 DOI: 10.1126/science.aav2412
  2. Suyong Han, Keshav Raghuvanshi, Milad Abolhasani. Accelerated Material-Efficient Investigation of Switchable Hydrophilicity Solvents for Energy-Efficient Solvent RecoveryACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, 2020; DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.9b07304
February 17, 2020

Episode 366 - The YORP Effect, Star Brawls and Solar wind

What happens when stars brawl? What do they leave behind? When stars are dying they take down everything and everything around them from asteroids to other stars. What is the YORP effect? How do some tiny solar particles destroy an asteroid? Spiraling out of control, asteroids get YORP-ed at the end of a star's life. When a star gets to the end of it's life, it may swell in size, taking out asteroids and nearby stars.

  1. H. Olofsson, T. Khouri, M. Maercker, P. Bergman, L. Doan, D. Tafoya, W. H. T. Vlemmings, E. M. L. Humphreys, M. Lindqvist, L. Nyman, S. Ramstedt. HD 101584: circumstellar characteristics and evolutionary status. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2019; 623: A153 DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201834897
  2. Dimitri Veras, Daniel J Scheeres. Post-main-sequence debris from rotation-induced YORP break-up of small bodies – II. Multiple fissions, internal strengths, and binary production. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2020; 492 (2): 2437 DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stz3565
  3. M. I. Desai, D. G. Mitchell, J. R. Szalay, E. C. Roelof, J. Giacalone, M. E. Hill, D. J. McComas, E. R. Christian, N. A. Schwadron, R. L. McNutt Jr., M. E. Wiedenbeck, C. Joyce, C. M. S. Cohen, R. W. Ebert, M. A. Dayeh, R. C. Allen, A. J. Davis, S. M. Krimigis, R. A. Leske, W. H. Matthaeus, O. Malandraki, R. A. Mewaldt, A. Labrador, E. C. Stone, S. D. Bale, M. Pulupa, R. J. MacDowall, J. C. Kasper. Properties of Suprathermal-through-energetic He Ions Associated with Stream Interaction Regions Observed over the Parker Solar Probe’s First Two Orbits. The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, 2020; 246 (2): 56 DOI: 10.3847/1538-4365/ab65ef
February 10, 2020

Episode 365 - Wasps, Bees, tasty meals and pesticide.

From wasps to bees how are insects adapting to a changing world. What type of food do bees prefer? Can a bee be a fussy eater? What makes a tasty meal for a Bee and what would they avoid like the plague? What changes can be introduced into the microbiome by pesticides? How can pesticides change the microbiome of wasps and develop into resistance? Can pesticide actually make lives harder for themselves by building tolerance in insects? How does an Asian hornet end up in Northern Europe?

  1. Wang et al. Changes in microbiome confer multigenerational host resistance after sub-toxic pesticide exposureCell Host & Microbe, 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2020.01.009
  2. Martin Husemann, Andreas Sterr, Swen Mack, Rudolf Abraham. The northernmost record of the Asian hornet Vespa velutina nigrithorax (Hymenoptera, Vespidae)Evolutionary Systematics, 2020; 4 (1): 1 DOI: 10.3897/evolsyst.4.47358
  3. Fabian A. Ruedenauer, David Raubenheimer, Daniela Kessner‐Beierlein, Nils Grund‐Mueller, Lisa Noack, Johannes Spaethe, Sara D. Leonhardt. Best be(e) on low fat: linking nutrient perception, regulation and fitnessEcology Letters, 2020; DOI: 10.1111/ele.13454
February 3, 2020

Episode 364 - Coronavirus from SARS to MERs and nConv2019

The Coronavirus family is a dangerous lot from SARS to MERS and Novel Coronavirus 2019. This week we look at the history of Coronavirus outbreaks, research into past infections and public health strategy. We do some fact checking on Coronavirus myths and fears. What lessons were learnt from the SARS outbreak of '03 that can help today in '20? How can turning off the cells recycling plant stop Coronaviruses in their tracks? What role does cell autophagy play in spreading or stopping MERS? What can we learn from the sequenced genomes of coronaviruses? How can tracking the ACE2 gene help people monitor the mutation of the coronavirus strains?

  1. Lewis, D. (2020). Coronavirus outbreak: what’s next? Nature. doi: 10.1038/d41586-020-00236-9
  2. Hollingsworth, J. (2020, January 30). The memory of SARS looms over the Wuhan virus. Here's how the outbreaks compare. Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/2020/01/29/china/sars-wuhan-virus-explainer-intl-hnk-scli/index.html
  3. Alerts - Novel coronavirus - Frequently asked questions. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/alerts/Pages/coronavirus-faqs.aspx#1-1
  4. Coronavirus latest: WHO declares global emergency. (2020, January 30). Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00154-w
  5. Yushun Wan, Jian Shang, Rachel Graham, Ralph S. Baric, Fang Li. Receptor recognition by novel coronavirus from Wuhan: An analysis based on decade-long structural studies of SARSJournal of Virology, 2020; DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00127-20
  6. Nils C. Gassen, Daniela Niemeyer, Doreen Muth, Victor M. Corman, Silvia Martinelli, Alwine Gassen, Kathrin Hafner, Jan Papies, Kirstin Mösbauer, Andreas Zellner, Anthony S. Zannas, Alexander Herrmann, Florian Holsboer, Ruth Brack-Werner, Michael Boshart, Bertram Müller-Myhsok, Christian Drosten, Marcel A. Müller, Theo Rein. SKP2 attenuates autophagy through Beclin1-ubiquitination and its inhibition reduces MERS-Coronavirus infectionNature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-13659-4
January 27, 2020

Episode 363 - Mysteries from underwater volcanoes

There are mysterious things lurking at the bottom of the ocean, from underwater volcanoes to mysterious graphite. Where did a pumice raft floating across the Pacific come from? Why is a raft of pumice larger than Manhattan heading to Australia? What can we learn by studying petit-spot volcanoes underneath the ocean? What connects young volcanoes with the motion of the tectonic plates? What roll do hydrothermal vents play in the carbon cycle? Where does all this graphite in the oceans come from?

  1. Philipp A. Brandl, Florian Schmid, Nico Augustin, Ingo Grevemeyer, Richard J. Arculus, Colin W. Devey, Sven Petersen, Margaret Stewart, Heidrun Kopp, Mark D. Hannington. The 6–8 Aug 2019 eruption of ‘Volcano F’ in the Tofua Arc, Tonga. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 2019; 106695 DOI: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2019.106695
  2. Naoto Hirano, Shiki Machida, Hirochika Sumino, Kenji Shimizu, Akihiro Tamura, Taisei Morishita, Hideki Iwano, Shuhei Sakata, Teruaki Ishii, Shoji Arai, Shigekazu Yoneda, Tohru Danhara, Takafumi Hirata. Petit-spot volcanoes on the oldest portion of the Pacific plate. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, 2019; 154: 103142 DOI: 10.1016/j.dsr.2019.103142
  3. Harry MacKay, C. Anthony Scott, Jack D. Duryea, Maria S. Baker, Eleonora Laritsky, Amanda E. Elson, Theodore Garland, Marta L. Fiorotto, Rui Chen, Yumei Li, Cristian Coarfa, Richard B. Simerly, Robert A. Waterland. DNA methylation in AgRP neurons regulates voluntary exercise behavior in mice. Nature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-13339-3
January 20, 2020

Episode 362 - Life after a disaster from Fukashima to Chernobyl

What happens next after disaster strikes and people flee for safety? How do wildlife move in when people move out of a disaster zone? How do animals moving into an evacuated area change with no humans around? What is the most effective thing to do if you live near a disaster area? How do we assess risk and life expectancy impact of living near a disaster zone? Is it more dangerous to live near a nuclear plant or in the diesel smog of the big city?

  1. Phillip C Lyons, Kei Okuda, Matthew T Hamilton, Thomas G Hinton, James C Beasley. Rewilding of Fukushima's human evacuation zoneFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2020; DOI: 10.1002/fee.2149
  2. Philip Thomas, John May. Coping after a big nuclear accidentProcess Safety and Environmental Protection, 2017; 112: 1 DOI: 10.1016/j.psep.2017.09.013
January 13, 2020

Episode 361 - Fast Radio Bursts, Cosmic Rays and Antarctica

From Fast Radio Bursts to Cosmic rays, interstellar mystery solving is a team effort. Mysterious repeating signals from space are tricky to localize, like spotting a person on the moon from here on Earth. What can fast radio bursts from billions of light years away tell us about the nature of the universe? How do you hunt for the source of a mysterious radio burst billions of light years away? How does a tiger, a balloon and Antarctica help us understand Supernova? What's the best place to hunt for cosmic rays; floating above Antarctica with a Super Tiger.

  1. B. Marcote, K. Nimmo, J. W. T. Hessels, S. P. Tendulkar, C. G. Bassa, Z. Paragi, A. Keimpema, M. Bhardwaj, R. Karuppusamy, V. M. Kaspi, C. J. Law, D. Michilli, K. Aggarwal, B. Andersen, A. M. Archibald, K. Bandura, G. C. Bower, P. J. Boyle, C. Brar, S. Burke-Spolaor, B. J. Butler, T. Cassanelli, P. Chawla, P. Demorest, M. Dobbs, E. Fonseca, U. Giri, D. C. Good, K. Gourdji, A. Josephy, A. Yu. Kirichenko, F. Kirsten, T. L. Landecker, D. Lang, T. J. W. Lazio, D. Z. Li, H.-H. Lin, J. D. Linford, K. Masui, J. Mena-Parra, A. Naidu, C. Ng, C. Patel, U.-L. Pen, Z. Pleunis, M. Rafiei-Ravandi, M. Rahman, A. Renard, P. Scholz, S. R. Siegel, K. M. Smith, I. H. Stairs, K. Vanderlinde, A. V. Zwaniga. A repeating fast radio burst source localized to a nearby spiral galaxy. Nature, 2020; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1866-z
  2. Ogliore, T. (2020, January 10). SuperTIGER on its second prowl -- 130,000 feet above Antarctica: The Source: Washington University in St. Louis. Retrieved from https://source.wustl.edu/2020/01/supertiger-on-its-second-prowl-130000-feet-above-antarctica/.
January 6, 2020

Episode 360 - Imaging hard-working Cells keeping you alive during illness

How do we peer into the inner workings of our cells, especially during their response to a medical emergency? What role does fibroblasts play to protect your heart after a heart attack? When is your body hardest at work repairing damage after a heart attack? What stem cells control your blood cells? How can we get a picture of the complex 3D shape of blood stem cells in your bone marrow? What role does bone marrow play in blood regulation?

  1. Chiara Baccin, Jude Al-Sabah, Lars Velten, Patrick M. Helbling, Florian Grünschläger, Pablo Hernández-Malmierca, César Nombela-Arrieta, Lars M. Steinmetz, Andreas Trumpp, Simon Haas. Combined single-cell and spatial transcriptomics reveal the molecular, cellular and spatial bone marrow niche organizationNature Cell Biology, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41556-019-0439-6
  2. Zohreh Varasteh, Sarajo Mohanta, Stephanie Robu, Miriam Braeuer, Yuanfang Li, Negar Omidvari, Geoffrey Topping, Ting Sun, Stephan G. Nekolla, Antonia Richter, Christian Weber, Andreas Habenicht, Uwe A. Haberkorn, Wolfgang A. Weber. Molecular Imaging of Fibroblast Activity After Myocardial Infarction Using a 68Ga-Labeled Fibroblast Activation Protein Inhibitor, FAPI-04Journal of Nuclear Medicine, 2019; 60 (12): 1743 DOI: 10.2967/jnumed.119.226993
December 30, 2019

Episode 359 - Life surviving on freezing planets, faint suns and meteorites

What can bacteria from an iron ore rich lake tell us about life on early earth? Have scientists finally solved a Carl Sagan paradox about life on early earth? When the earth was young, so was the sun, and that meant less light and heat. How did early life on earth survive if there was not enough sunlight to keep it warm? How did iron ore eating and secreting bacteria help lead to widespread life on our planet? How did micro organisms get enough oxygen to survive when the entire planet was frozen over? What can iron ore deposits tell us about life surviving when the entire planet was frozen over? Can life survive on a meteorite, the answer is surprising. How can a microbe be more suited to life on a meteorite than on earth?

  1. Katharine J. Thompson, Paul A. Kenward, Kohen W. Bauer, Tyler Warchola, Tina Gauger, Raul Martinez, Rachel L. Simister, Céline C. Michiels, Marc Llirós, Christopher T. Reinhard, Andreas Kappler, Kurt O. Konhauser, Sean A. Crowe. Photoferrotrophy, deposition of banded iron formations, and methane production in Archean oceansScience Advances, 2019; 5 (11): eaav2869 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav2869
  2. Maxwell A. Lechte, Malcolm W. Wallace, Ashleigh van Smeerdijk Hood, Weiqiang Li, Ganqing Jiang, Galen P. Halverson, Dan Asael, Stephanie L. McColl, Noah J. Planavsky. Subglacial meltwater supported aerobic marine habitats during Snowball EarthProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019; 201909165 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1909165116
  3. Tetyana Milojevic, Denise Kölbl, Ludovic Ferrière, Mihaela Albu, Adrienne Kish, Roberta L. Flemming, Christian Koeberl, Amir Blazevic, Ziga Zebec, Simon K.-M. R. Rittmann, Christa Schleper, Marc Pignitter, Veronika Somoza, Mario P. Schimak, Alexandra N. Rupert. Exploring the microbial biotransformation of extraterrestrial material on nanometer scaleScientific Reports, 2019; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-54482-7
December 23, 2019

Episode 358 - Wildfires, climate change, smog and charcoal

As the climate changes, wildfires become more common and more dangerous. Smoke clouds from wildfires can linger for weeks, but what chemistry changes inside the smog? Aerosols amongst other particles lurk inside wildfire smoke. How do we study the changes in wildfire smoke; by flying planes through the plumes. How do wildfires impact the CO2 emissions of a region?  Can wildfires help store carbon through charcoal? What can charred biomass to do help capture carbon?

  1. Kouji Adachi, Arthur J. Sedlacek, Lawrence Kleinman, Stephen R. Springston, Jian Wang, Duli Chand, John M. Hubbe, John E. Shilling, Timothy B. Onasch, Takeshi Kinase, Kohei Sakata, Yoshio Takahashi, Peter R. Buseck. Spherical tarball particles form through rapid chemical and physical changes of organic matter in biomass-burning smokeProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019; 201900129 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1900129116
  2. Matthew W. Jones, Cristina Santín, Guido R. van der Werf, Stefan H. Doerr. Global fire emissions buffered by the production of pyrogenic carbonNature Geoscience, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41561-019-0403-x
December 16, 2019

Episode 357 - Microbiology vs Macro climate challenges

Scientist are turning to microbiology to fight global climate challenges. How do you change a microbe from consumer to producer? Can you teach old e-coli new tricks, and make it consume CO2? How can a gut bacteria start to behave like a plant? Can we use enzymes to produce Hydrogen gas efficiently? What is the missing step in hydrogen fuel cell production? Can synthesised enzyme engines help us produce hydrogen without complex processes?


  1.   Gleizer et al. Conversion of Escherichia coli to Generate All Biomass Carbon from CO2Cell, 2019 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.11.009
  2. The binuclear cluster of [FeFe] hydrogenase is formed with sulfur donated by cysteine of an [Fe(Cys)(CO)2(CN)] organometallic precursorProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019; 116 (42): 20850 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1913324116


December 9, 2019

Episode 356 - Responding to signs of danger

How do animals communicate information about danger? When a threat is detected by one animal, how do they pass it along to others? Does empathy play a role in how a create responds to a threat? Does the reaction of others around you change your response to threats? What chemical causes you to freeze in response to danger? How does serotonin cause deer in the headlights moments? What's the link between serotonin and slowing down in response to danger?

  1. Yingying Han, Rune Bruls, Efe Soyman, Rajat Mani Thomas, Vasiliki Pentaraki, Naomi Jelinek, Mirjam Heinemans, Iege Bassez, Sam Verschooren, Illanah Pruis, Thijs Van Lierde, Nathaly Carrillo, Valeria Gazzola, Maria Carrillo, Christian Keysers. Bidirectional cingulate-dependent danger information transfer across ratsPLOS Biology, 2019; 17 (12): e3000524 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000524
  2. Clare E. Howard, Chin-Lin Chen, Tanya Tabachnik, Rick Hormigo, Pavan Ramdya, Richard S. Mann. Serotonergic Modulation of Walking in DrosophilaCurrent Biology, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.10.042
December 2, 2019

Episode 355 - Satellites keeping us safe on the ground

Satellites can help save lives down on earth, by helping us better respond in disasters. When a flood, tsunami or other disaster strikes, satellites can help emergency responders get where they need to be as fast as possible. Satellites can track floods in near real time and help shave minutes of disaster response times. Finding your way in a flood or fire can be tricky, but satellites can help direct emergency responders. Satellites can help track critical infrastructure like bridges or roads as they age. When a bridge fails it can be a tragedy, but satellites can help give an early warning. When we dig big tunnels we can disturb structures and buildings, so how can we use satellites to avoid a disaster.


  1. Perry C. Oddo, John D. Bolten. The Value of Near Real-Time Earth Observations for Improved Flood Disaster ResponseFrontiers in Environmental Science, 2019; 7 DOI: 10.3389/fenvs.2019.00127
  2. Pietro Milillo, Giorgia Giardina, Daniele Perissin, Giovanni Milillo, Alessandro Coletta, Carlo Terranova. Pre-Collapse Space Geodetic Observations of Critical Infrastructure: The Morandi Bridge, Genoa, ItalyRemote Sensing, 2019; 11 (12): 1403 DOI: 10.3390/rs11121403
November 25, 2019

Episode 354 - Safer pacemakers and mini machines inside our cells

Our bodies are filled with molecular and cellular machines, pumping, spinning and moving. How do tiny single molecules pump sodium ions across a cell? What is the connection between a single molecule pump and cells producing electricity? How can a single molecule pump be more efficient than our modern ones? How do we make pacemakers safer? Overtime a pacemaker grows to become part of the heart fibre. How do we make pacemakers less likely to be overgrown and easier to replace? 


  1. Tatsuya Iida, Yoshihiro Minagawa, Hiroshi Ueno, Fumihiro Kawai, Takeshi Murata, Ryota Iino. Single-molecule analysis reveals rotational substeps and chemo-mechanical coupling scheme of Enterococcus hirae V1-ATPaseJournal of Biological Chemistry, 2019; 294 (45): 17017 DOI: 10.1074/jbc.RA119.008947
  2. Francesco Robotti, Ita Sterner, Simone Bottan, Josep M. Monné Rodríguez, Giovanni Pellegrini, Tanja Schmidt, Volkmar Falk, Dimos Poulikakos, Aldo Ferrari, Christoph Starck. Microengineered biosynthesized cellulose as anti-fibrotic in vivo protection for cardiac implantable electronic devicesBiomaterials, 2020; 229: 119583 DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2019.119583
November 18, 2019

Episode 353 - Mysteries of plants, from using rare metals to boosting photosynthesis

Plants play an important role in our environment, yet there is still so much more to understand. We often think of nature as a zero sum game, but older and younger plants can collaborate. When surviving in a harsh environment, the best results occur when old and young plants grow together. Photosynthesis seems simple, but understanding the intricacies of the mechanisms can help us boost crop yields. Regulating the amount of photosynthesis can help plants survive or thrive in changing climates. How do boreal forests help capture nitrogen from the air? What does an odd metal have to do with forests in Canada storing nitrogen? 

  1. Alicia Montesinos-Navarro, Isabelle Storer, Rocío Perez-Barrales. Benefits for nurse and facilitated plants emerge when interactions are considered along the entire life-spanPerspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 2019; 41: 125483 DOI: 10.1016/j.ppees.2019.125483
  2. Lorna A. Malone, Pu Qian, Guy E. Mayneord, Andrew Hitchcock, David A. Farmer, Rebecca F. Thompson, David J. K. Swainsbury, Neil A. Ranson, C. Neil Hunter, Matthew P. Johnson. Cryo-EM structure of the spinach cytochrome b6 f complex at 3.6 Å resolutionNature, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1746-6
  3. Princeton University. (2019, November 11). Nature's backup plan for converting nitrogen into plant nutrients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 15, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/11/191111180100.htm
November 11, 2019

Episode 352 - Figuring out where sound comes from and perceiving pitch

This week we look at the way our brains process sound, music, pitch and rhythm. How does our brain figure out where a sound is coming from? Do our eyes and ears process distance and location in a similar way? How does our brain discern differences in stimuli? What can we learn about pitch and rhythm from studying a remote Bolivian tribe? Is there a biological limit to our perception of sounds? Is our ability to perceive rhythm, chords and pitch cultural or biological?


  1. Antje Ihlefeld, Nima Alamatsaz, Robert M Shapley. Population rate-coding predicts correctly that human sound localization depends on sound intensityeLife, 2019; 8 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.47027
  2. Nori Jacoby, Eduardo A. Undurraga, Malinda J. McPherson, Joaquín Valdés, Tomás Ossandón, Josh H. McDermott. Universal and Non-universal Features of Musical Pitch Perception Revealed by SingingCurrent Biology, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.08.020