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486Episodes
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.

May 16, 2022

Episode 483 - Constantly changing moons of Jupiter

Jupiter's moons may be way more dynamic than we previously thought. Europa has the most potential to harbor life outside of Earth, but it's ice sheets may be more Earth like than we imagined. Europa's spectacular double ridges are similar to those found in Greenland. The ice sheets on Europa may not be static and still, but churning. Melting and refreezing could drive exchange between the surface of Europa and it's icey depths. How do you form sand dunes without any wind? Is it possible to form a Dune on Io using just volcanic flows and sulfur snows?

  1. Culberg, R., Schroeder, D.M. & Steinbrügge, G. Double ridge formation over shallow water sills on Jupiter’s moon Europa. Nat Commun, 2022 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-29458-3
  2. George D. McDonald, Joshua Méndez Harper, Lujendra Ojha, Paul Corlies, Josef Dufek, Ryan C. Ewing, Laura Kerber. Aeolian sediment transport on Io from lava–frost interactions. Nature Communications, 2022; 13 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-29682-x
May 9, 2022

Episode 482 - Nova and Micronova not quite super still immensely powerful

Supernova get all the press, but Nova and Micronova are still pretty powerful. White dwarf stars are normally pretty inactive, unless some hydrogen ends up kickstarting them again. Enough helium leeched from a nearby star can ignite the entire surface of a white dwarf. Nova may not destroy the star, but they can create immensely powerful explosions and particles. The right combination of White Dwarf and Red Giant can create powerful particles near the speed of light. Micronova sound small but they are still colossal and brief explosions on white dwarf stars. Not powerful enough to ignite the whole surface of a star, but definitely enough to destroy a planet, micronova are quite deadly.

  1. Scaringi, S., Groot, P.J., Knigge, C. et al. Localized thermonuclear bursts from accreting magnetic white dwarfsNature, 2022 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04495-6
  2. V. A. Acciari, S. Ansoldi, L. A. Antonelli, A. Arbet Engels, M. Artero, K. Asano, D. Baack, A. Babić, A. Baquero, U. Barres de Almeida, J. A. Barrio, I. Batković, J. Becerra González, W. Bednarek, L. Bellizzi, E. Bernardini, M. Bernardos, A. Berti, J. Besenrieder, W. Bhattacharyya, C. Bigongiari, A. Biland, O. Blanch, H. Bökenkamp, G. Bonnoli, Ž. Bošnjak, G. Busetto, R. Carosi, G. Ceribella, M. Cerruti, Y. Chai, A. Chilingarian, S. Cikota, S. M. Colak, E. Colombo, J. L. Contreras, J. Cortina, S. Covino, G. D’Amico, V. D’Elia, P. Da Vela, F. Dazzi, A. De Angelis, B. De Lotto, A. Del Popolo, M. Delfino, J. Delgado, C. Delgado Mendez, D. Depaoli, F. Di Pierro, L. Di Venere, E. Do Souto Espiñeira, D. Dominis Prester, A. Donini, D. Dorner, M. Doro, D. Elsaesser, V. Fallah Ramazani, L. Fariña Alonso, A. Fattorini, M. V. Fonseca, L. Font, C. Fruck, S. Fukami, Y. Fukazawa, R. J. García López, M. Garczarczyk, S. Gasparyan, M. Gaug, N. Giglietto, F. Giordano, P. Gliwny, N. Godinović, J. G. Green, D. Green, D. Hadasch, A. Hahn, T. Hassan, L. Heckmann, J. Herrera, J. Hoang, D. Hrupec, M. Hütten, T. Inada, K. Ishio, Y. Iwamura, I. Jiménez Martínez, J. Jormanainen, L. Jouvin, D. Kerszberg, Y. Kobayashi, H. Kubo, J. Kushida, A. Lamastra, D. Lelas, F. Leone, E. Lindfors, L. Linhoff, S. Lombardi, F. Longo, R. López-Coto, M. López-Moya, A. López-Oramas, S. Loporchio, B. Machado de Oliveira Fraga, C. Maggio, P. Majumdar, M. Makariev, M. Mallamaci, G. Maneva, M. Manganaro, K. Mannheim, L. Maraschi, M. Mariotti, M. Martínez, A. Mas Aguilar, D. Mazin, S. Menchiari, S. Mender, S. Mićanović, D. Miceli, T. Miener, J. M. Miranda, R. Mirzoyan, E. Molina, A. Moralejo, D. Morcuende, V. Moreno, E. Moretti, T. Nakamori, L. Nava, V. Neustroev, M. Nievas Rosillo, C. Nigro, K. Nilsson, K. Nishijima, K. Noda, S. Nozaki, Y. Ohtani, T. Oka, J. Otero-Santos, S. Paiano, M. Palatiello, D. Paneque, R. Paoletti, J. M. Paredes, L. Pavletić, P. Peñil, M. Persic, M. Pihet, P. G. Prada Moroni, E. Prandini, C. Priyadarshi, I. Puljak, W. Rhode, M. Ribó, J. Rico, C. Righi, A. Rugliancich, N. Sahakyan, T. Saito, S. Sakurai, K. Satalecka, F. G. Saturni, B. Schleicher, K. Schmidt, T. Schweizer, J. Sitarek, I. Šnidarić, D. Sobczynska, A. Spolon, A. Stamerra, J. Strišković, D. Strom, M. Strzys, Y. Suda, T. Surić, M. Takahashi, R. Takeishi, F. Tavecchio, P. Temnikov, T. Terzić, M. Teshima, L. Tosti, S. Truzzi, A. Tutone, S. Ubach, J. van Scherpenberg, G. Vanzo, M. Vazquez Acosta, S. Ventura, V. Verguilov, C. F. Vigorito, V. Vitale, I. Vovk, M. Will, C. Wunderlich, T. Yamamoto, D. Zarić, F. Ambrosino, M. Cecconi, G. Catanzaro, C. Ferrara, A. Frasca, M. Munari, L. Giustolisi, J. Alonso-Santiago, M. Giarrusso, U. Munari, P. Valisa. Proton acceleration in thermonuclear nova explosions revealed by gamma raysNature Astronomy, 2022; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-022-01640-z
May 2, 2022

Episode 481 - Finding hidden life in our oceans with RNA and DNA

Using sequencing techniques we can find all kinds of hidden life in our oceans. RNA viruses are ancient, but their old genes can help us spot them in great numbers in our oceans. There are huge amounts of 'life' in our oceans that we don't know about. No matter if you think viruses are 'alive' or not, there are way more than we imagined in our oceans. RNA viruses are easier to spot in our oceans if you look for the right ancient gene. Using gene sequencing we can find fish that are hidden in our reefs. Visually spotting fish is helpful but can overlook sneak fish. Using environemtnal sequencing techniques way more diverse range of fish can be found.

  1. Ahmed A. Zayed, James M. Wainaina, Guillermo Dominguez-Huerta, Eric Pelletier, Jiarong Guo, Mohamed Mohssen, Funing Tian, Akbar Adjie Pratama, Benjamin Bolduc, Olivier Zablocki, Dylan Cronin, Lindsey Solden, Erwan Delage, Adriana Alberti, Jean-Marc Aury, Quentin Carradec, Corinne da Silva, Karine Labadie, Julie Poulain, Hans-Joachim Ruscheweyh, Guillem Salazar, Elan Shatoff, Ralf Bundschuh, Kurt Fredrick, Laura S. Kubatko, Samuel Chaffron, Alexander I. Culley, Shinichi Sunagawa, Jens H. Kuhn, Patrick Wincker, Matthew B. Sullivan, Silvia G. Acinas, Marcel Babin, Peer Bork, Emmanuel Boss, Chris Bowler, Guy Cochrane, Colomban de Vargas, Gabriel Gorsky, Lionel Guidi, Nigel Grimsley, Pascal Hingamp, Daniele Iudicone, Olivier Jaillon, Stefanie Kandels, Lee Karp-Boss, Eric Karsenti, Fabrice Not, Hiroyuki Ogata, Nicole Poulton, Stéphane Pesant, Christian Sardet, Sabrinia Speich, Lars Stemmann, Matthew B. Sullivan, Shinichi Sungawa, Patrick Wincker. Cryptic and abundant marine viruses at the evolutionary origins of Earth’s RNA viromeScience, 2022; 376 (6589): 156 DOI: 10.1126/science.abm5847
  2. Laetitia Mathon, Virginie Marques, David Mouillot, Camille Albouy, Marco Andrello, Florian Baletaud, Giomar H. Borrero-Pérez, Tony Dejean, Graham J. Edgar, Jonathan Grondin, Pierre-Edouard Guerin, Régis Hocdé, Jean-Baptiste Juhel, Kadarusman, Eva Maire, Gael Mariani, Matthew McLean, Andrea Polanco F., Laurent Pouyaud, Rick D. Stuart-Smith, Hagi Yulia Sugeha, Alice Valentini, Laurent Vigliola, Indra B. Vimono, Loïc Pellissier, Stéphanie Manel. Cross-ocean patterns and processes in fish biodiversity on coral reefs through the lens of eDNA metabarcodingProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2022; 289 (1973) DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2022.0162
April 25, 2022

Episode 480 - Bacteria turning methane into electricity, and corrupting corn

How can bacteria turn methane directly into electricity? Why waste time producing bio gas to burn when bacteria could produce electricity directly.  When bacteria take over corn, before they wreck the join they order in delivered food. Bacteria enjoy a huge feast when taking over maize, then they get to work wrecking the joint. Bacteria ends up in spots its not meant to be and redirects food away from plant cells. Redirected takeout food keeps bacteria alive as they settle into their corn host in preparation for taking over. When moving into a new house it helps to get food delivered at first, which is exactly what bacteria does.

  1. Heleen T. Ouboter, Tom Berben, Stefanie Berger, Mike S. M. Jetten, Tom Sleutels, Annemiek Ter Heijne, Cornelia U. Welte. Methane-Dependent Extracellular Electron Transfer at the Bioanode by the Anaerobic Archaeal Methanotroph “Candidatus Methanoperedens”. Frontiers in Microbiology, 2022; 13 DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2022.820989
  2. Irene Gentzel, Laura Giese, Gayani Ekanayake, Kelly Mikhail, Wanying Zhao, Jean-Christophe Cocuron, Ana Paula Alonso, David Mackey. Dynamic nutrient acquisition from a hydrated apoplast supports biotrophic proliferation of a bacterial pathogen of maize. Cell Host & Microbe, 2022; 30 (4): 502 DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2022.03.017
April 18, 2022

Episode 479 - Fish that count and Spiders hearing with their webs

Can fish count? What purpose does a stingray have with addition and subtraction? Why are fish and stingrays able to do basic arithmetic without a cerebral cortex? Scientists taught fish to do arithmetic with some help from Bees. What happens with you put a spider web in an anechoic chamber? How do spiders tune their webs to detect sound? Spiders webs act as powerful microphone arrays that are also cable of carrying sound across long distances. Spider webs make powerful microphone arrays that allow spiders to hear great with great fidelity.

  1. V. Schluessel, N. Kreuter, I. M. Gosemann, E. Schmidt. Cichlids and stingrays can add and subtract ‘one’ in the number space from one to fiveScientific Reports, 2022; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-07552-2
  2. Jian Zhou, Junpeng Lai, Gil Menda, Jay A. Stafstrom, Carol I. Miles, Ronald R. Hoy, Ronald N. Miles. Outsourced hearing in an orb-weaving spider that uses its web as an auditory sensorProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2022; 119 (14) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2122789119
April 11, 2022

Episode 478 - Special properties of water from molecular to drinking water to deep into the earth

Water has some pretty amazing properties. We dive into some of the strange things water does from the molecular level all the way to planet scale water flows. We all know H2O but studying the way water molecules move around each other is very difficult to isolate. H2O molecules had to be taken to 0.4 Kelvin and shot with a powerful laser to shed light on the way they shake. The way H2O interacts between molecules by moving, rotating and shaking can help explain some of the weird properties. H2O has weird properties like being at its highest density at 4 degrees. Turning salt water into fresh water often involves a lot of electricity, but a new method using Ionic salts may get by with barely any heat. How can water make its way down towards the core of the earth? Water masqueraded inside minerals to migrate deep down beneath the surface of the earth.

  1. Martina Havenith-Newen, Raffael Schwan, Chen Qu, Devendra Mani, Nitish Pal, Gerhard Schwaab, Lex van der Meer, Britta Redlich, Claude LeForestier, Joel Bowman. Observation of the low frequency spectrum of water dimer as a sensitive test of the water dimer potential and dipole moment surfaces. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2019; DOI: 10.1002/anie.201906048
  2. Hyungmook Kang, David E. Suich, James F. Davies, Aaron D. Wilson, Jeffrey J. Urban, Robert Kostecki. Molecular insight into the lower critical solution temperature transition of aqueous alkyl phosphonium benzene sulfonates. Communications Chemistry, 2019; 2 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s42004-019-0151-2
  3. Jun Tsuchiya, Koichiro Umemoto. First‐Principles Determination of the Dissociation Phase Boundary of Phase H MgSiO 4 H 2. Geophysical Research Letters, 2019; DOI: 10.1029/2019GL083472
April 4, 2022

Episode 477 - Plants reacting and defending themselves

How can plants defend themselves from attack? Animals scatter when they hear an alarm cry or a predator, but how do plants defend themselves? Plants react to danger around them by detecting chemical signals. Plants emit warning through volatile chemicals and others detect these signals to raise their own defences. How do plants detect light and know where to head without eyes? How do the shape of proteins that bend a plant towards like change when exposed to different light?

  1. Haruki Onosato, Genya Fujimoto, Tomota Higami, Takuya Sakamoto, Ayaka Yamada, Takamasa Suzuki, Rika Ozawa, Sachihiro Matsunaga, Motoaki Seki, Minoru Ueda, Kaori Sako, Ivan Galis, Gen-ichiro Arimura. Sustained defense response via volatile signaling and its epigenetic transcriptional regulationPlant Physiology, 2022; DOI: 10.1093/plphys/kiac077
  2. Li, H., Burgie, E.S., Gannam, Z.T.K. et al. Plant phytochrome B is an asymmetric dimer with unique signalling potentialNature, 2022 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04529-z
March 28, 2022

Episode 476 - Capturing interstellar storms and gas

Space isn't 'empty' but is often filled with gas and interstellar wind. Gas flows and moves around our universe forming stars, planets and galaxies, but how does it get there? How can you capture the complex motion of interstellar gas? What connects dragonflies with taking pictures of interstellar gas? Strapping a whole bunch of cameras together can help scientists image the faintest of light. Violent eruptions and messy eating by Neutron stars and black holes can help us understand the way interstellar gas moves in space. When a neutron star devours a planet, the remnants and gas flows can tell us a lot about star formation.

Journal References:

  1. Imad Pasha, Deborah Lokhorst, Pieter G. van Dokkum, Seery Chen, Roberto Abraham, Johnny Greco, Shany Danieli, Tim Miller, Erin Lippitt, Ava Polzin, Zili Shen, Michael A. Keim, Qing Liu, Allison Merritt, Jielai Zhang. A Nascent Tidal Dwarf Galaxy Forming within the Northern H i Streamer of M82. The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 2021; 923 (2): L21 DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ac3ca6
  2. Qing Liu, Roberto Abraham, Colleen Gilhuly, Pieter van Dokkum, Peter G. Martin, Jiaxuan Li, Johnny P. Greco, Deborah Lokhorst, Seery Chen, Shany Danieli, Michael A. Keim, Allison Merritt, Tim B. Miller, Imad Pasha, Ava Polzin, Zili Shen, Jielai Zhang. A Method to Characterize the Wide-angle Point-Spread Function of Astronomical Images. The Astrophysical Journal, 2022; 925 (2): 219 DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ac32c6
  3. N. Castro Segura, C. Knigge, K. S. Long, D. Altamirano, M. Armas Padilla, C. Bailyn, D. A. H. Buckley, D. J. K. Buisson, J. Casares, P. Charles, J. A. Combi, V. A. Cúneo, N. D. Degenaar, S. del Palacio, M. Díaz Trigo, R. Fender, P. Gandhi, M. Georganti, C. Gutiérrez, J. V. Hernandez Santisteban, F. Jiménez-Ibarra, J. Matthews, M. Méndez, M. Middleton, T. Muñoz-Darias, M. Özbey Arabacı, M. Pahari, L. Rhodes, T. D. Russell, S. Scaringi, J. van den Eijnden, G. Vasilopoulos, F. M. Vincentelli, P. Wiseman. A persistent ultraviolet outflow from an accreting neutron star binary transient. Nature, 2022; 603 (7899): 52 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-04324-2
March 21, 2022

Episode 475 - Tarantula eating worms and Panda’s helpful bacteria

Tarantulas are often in horror films, but they too can be subject to a mysterious invasion and slow death by nasty nematodes. "In Hollywood, you haven't really made it until you've been recognized by those in the field of parasitology" says Jeff Daniels. Why did scientists immortalize Jeff Daniels in the name of a deadly nematode. Slowly loosing control of limbs and organs is a nasty way to go out, but its how nematodes can take down a tarantula. Panda's get a lot of help from bacteria to help them survive with their limited diet. Pandas need a lot of help to survive even though they only eat bamboo. Gut bacteria helps pandas turn their bamboo into all the energy they need to build mass and fat.

  1. Jacob Schurkman, Kyle Anesko; Joaquín Abolafia; Irma Tandingan De Ley; Adler R. Dillman. Tarantobelus Jeffdanielsi N. Sp. (panagrolaimomorpha; Panagrolaimidae), a Nematode Parasite of TarantulasJ Parasitol, 2022 DOI: 10.1645/21-42
  2. Guangping Huang, Le Wang, Jian Li, Rong Hou, Meng Wang, Zhilin Wang, Qingyue Qu, Wenliang Zhou, Yonggang Nie, Yibo Hu, Yingjie Ma, Li Yan, Hong Wei, Fuwen Wei. Seasonal shift of the gut microbiome synchronizes host peripheral circadian rhythm for physiological adaptation to a low-fat diet in the giant pandaCell Reports, 2022; 38 (3): 110203 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.110203
March 14, 2022

Episode 474 - Fossils changing the Planet and the planet changing Fossils

How can fossils change the planet and the planet change fossils? Forming fossils require specific set of circumstances. How can geological changes make the right conditions for fossils to be preserved? What happened 183 million years ago that made it possible to preserve even soft and delicate fossils? Preserving bones is comparatively easy compared to soft tissue and creatures like squid. So what has to happen to preserve these as fossils? How did fossils change the composition of rocks deep in the mantle? When life first emerged on our planet what change did it cause in the type of rocks found deep beneath the surface? life on the surface has changed the rocks we have deep in the earth.

  1. Sinjini Sinha, A. D. Muscente, James D. Schiffbauer, Matt Williams, Günter Schweigert, Rowan C. Martindale. Global controls on phosphatization of fossils during the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic EventScientific Reports, 2021; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-03482-7
  2. Alcott, L.J., Mills, B.J.W., Bekker, A. et al. Earth’s Great Oxidation Event facilitated by the rise of sedimentary phosphorus recyclingNat. Geosci., 2022 DOI: 10.1038/s41561-022-00906-5
March 7, 2022

Episode 473 - Super materials from Molluscs and Scallops

Making super materials by learning the secrets of molluscs and scallops. How are scallops are able to survive the super-cool water in Antarctica. What makes Antarctic scallop shells able to simply brush aside ice? How do you shed a skin of ice from a scallop? What connects scallops with making airplanes more efficient? How do mussels manage to stick so well to things? Is it possible to replicate the stickiness of a mussel? Mussels make themselves near impossible to remove, so can you make them even stickier?

  1. William S. Y. Wong, Lukas Hauer, Paul A. Cziko, Konrad Meister. Cryofouling avoidance in the Antarctic scallop Adamussium colbecki. Communications Biology, 2022; 5 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s42003-022-03023-6
  2. Or Berger, Claudia Battistella, Yusu Chen, Julia Oktawiec, Zofia E. Siwicka, Danielle Tullman-Ercek, Muzhou Wang, Nathan C. Gianneschi. Mussel Adhesive-Inspired Proteomimetic Polymer. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2022; DOI: 10.1021/jacs.1c10936
February 28, 2022

Episode 472 - March Mammal Madness 22 - Long lasting Leaf slugs

We give a rundown on the 10th annual March Mammal Madness, including the details of the brackets and an explanation on how it all works. More information about March Mammal Madness '22 can be found at the following sites:

One of the #2022MMM creatures, the Leaf Slug can go for long periods without food. Will the Leaf Slug's ability to eat and photosynthesize allow it to conquer #2022MMM? We dive into how leaf slugs manage to survive for so long without food #2022MMM. If you eat a leaf why doesn't that turn you INTO a leaf? How are Leaf Slugs managing to sneak out extra food for months after eating some algae? Forget emergency rations, Leaf Slugs can (solar) power on through long periods without food. How can Leaf Slugs avoid the Nitrogen trap and have a balanced diet for long periods without food.

February 21, 2022

Episode 471 - Extreme weather and protecting cities

Ways to protect our cities as climate changes causes more extreme weather. How can we better prepare our infrastructure for damage from extreme storms. Extreme events like storm Eunice can wreck havoc on electricity networks. How can we better prepare our cities? Climate changes makes extreme weather more common so what can be done to predict the risk to key infrastructure? Urban areas can swelter in heat waves, but can urban greening help limit the impact? What benefits does urban greening provide to limit flooding and overheating in extreme weather? When an atmospheric river meets a mountain range it can create a deluge.

  1. Sean Wilkinson, Sarah Dunn, Russell Adams, Nicolas Kirchner-Bossi, Hayley J. Fowler, Samuel González Otálora, David Pritchard, Joana Mendes, Erika J. Palin, Steven C. Chan. Consequence forecasting: A rational framework for predicting the consequences of approaching stormsClimate Risk Management, 2022; 35: 100412 DOI: 10.1016/j.crm.2022.100412
  2. Y. Kamae, Y. Imada, H. Kawase, W. Mei. Atmospheric Rivers Bring More Frequent and Intense Extreme Rainfall Events Over East Asia Under Global WarmingGeophysical Research Letters, 2022 DOI: 10.1029/2021GL09603
  3. Katja Schmidt, Ariane Walz. Ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change through residential urban green structures: co-benefits to thermal comfort, biodiversity, carbon storage and social interactionOne Ecosystem, 2021; 6 DOI: 10.3897/oneeco.6.e65706
  4. M. O. Cuthbert, G. C. Rau, M. Ekström, D. M. O’Carroll, A. J. Bates. Global climate-driven trade-offs between the water retention and cooling benefits of urban greeningNature Communications, 2022; 13 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-28160-8
February 14, 2022

Episode 470 - Mysteries in our galaxy unearthed by radio telescopes

Radio telescopes cover large areas and can find strange objects lurking in space. From slowly pulsing magnetars to cosmic ray filaments. Surrounding the black hole at the center of the Milky way are strange but regular filament like structures. Cosmic rays electroncs moving near the speed of light are creating regular 'gash' like filaments around the center of the Milky Way. There is a supermassive blackhole at the center of the Milky Way, but it's surrounded by even weirder things. Astronomers deal with 'transients' from slow ones like supernova to fast pulses like Pulsars...but there might be something in between. A new type of stellar object is pulsing three times an hour dumping out huge amounts of radio waves all relatively close to home.

  1. F. Yusef-Zadeh, R. G. Arendt, M. Wardle, I. Heywood, W. Cotton, F. Camilo. Statistical Properties of the Population of the Galactic Center Filaments: the Spectral Index and Equipartition Magnetic FieldThe Astrophysical Journal Letters, 2022; 925 (2): L18 DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ac4802
  2. N. Hurley-Walker, X. Zhang, A. Bahramian, S. J. McSweeney, T. N. O’Doherty, P. J. Hancock, J. S. Morgan, G. E. Anderson, G. H. Heald, T. J. Galvin. A radio transient with unusually slow periodic emissionNature, 2022; 601 (7894): 526 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-04272-x
February 7, 2022

Episode 469 - Creatures with giant mouths and giant eyes

Giant mouths and giant eyes may look cute, but they give some serious advantages when eating. How do whales manage to gulp so much water to feed without drowning? Lunge feeding where whales swallow huge volumes of water is a fast way to eat but how do whales avoid drowning? Whales and humans share some special developments to stop food (or water) going down the wrong way. Would it be possible for humans to eat underwater like a whale? How do large eyes help a creature? A creature that invests in overly large eyes must have some advantage from them. A cartoony crab with huge eyes was actually a pretty fast predator.

  1. Kelsey N. Gil, A. Wayne Vogl, Robert E. Shadwick. Anatomical mechanism for protecting the airway in the largest animals on earthCurrent Biology, 2022; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.12.040
  2. Kelsey M. Jenkins, Derek E.G. Briggs, Javier Luque. The remarkable visual system of a Cretaceous crabiScience, 2022; 25 (1): 103579 DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2021.103579
January 31, 2022

Episode 468 - Stopping frostbite and bacteria using chemistry and physics

How can we protect skin from frostbite before it happens? Scientists freeze cells in the lab all the time, so how can that be used to help prevent frostbite? When treating frostbite minutes can make a huge difference. How can we improve prevention of the worst injuries from frostbite? You've heard of sunscreen but what about frostbite cream. Antiobiotic resistance is a serious issue, but what plasma could be a secret weapon. Using plasma we can engineer antimicrobial surfaces. Plasma sintered surfaces can wipe out bacteria.

  1. Aanchal Gupta, Betsy Reshma G, Praveen Singh, Ekta Kohli, Shantanu Sengupta, Munia Ganguli. A Combination of Synthetic Molecules Acts as Antifreeze for the Protection of Skin against Cold-Induced Injuries. ACS Applied Bio Materials, 2021; 5 (1): 252 DOI: 10.1021/acsabm.1c01058
  2. Anton Nikiforov, Chuanlong Ma, Andrei Choukourov, Fabio Palumbo. Plasma technology in antimicrobial surface engineering. Journal of Applied Physics, 2022; 131 (1): 011102 DOI: 10.1063/5.0066724
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