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463Episodes
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.

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.
September 13, 2021

Episode 448 - Ig Nobel ‘21 Part 1 - Invasion of the chewing gum

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? What's the best way to airlift a rhino? Are there NSFW ways to de-congest your nose? What can a discarded piece of chewing gum tell you about your mouth or environment? A discarded piece of gum can be a mess but also a messy battleground for bacteria. Since bacteria love invading old gum, can that be harnessed for good?

Full information about the Ig Nobel Prizes can be found at their website, curated by the journal, the Annals of Improbable Research. 

References:

  1. Obesity of Politicians and Corruption in Post‐Soviet Countries,” Pavlo Blavatskyy, Economic of Transition and Institutional Change, vol. 29, no. 2, 2021, pp. 343-356.
September 6, 2021

Episode 447 - Defending and recovering from floods in cities and the sea floor

Extreme storms will become more common, so how can cities and the sea bed defend itself. What happens to the sea floor when there is a big storm? How long does the ecosystem on the sea floor take to recover after a large storm. What can be done to protect a coastal city from flooding in extreme weather? Knowing when to batten the hatches and protect a city in an extreme storm requires careful modelling. Venice is a beautiful city, but requires constant defense from damaging flooding and storms. Venice is protected from flooding by MOSE but is there a future where the gates are permanently closed? The complex interaction between sea level rise, Mediterranean and Adriatic seas make protecting the Venetian lagoon tricky.

  1. Piero Lionello, Robert J. Nicholls, Georg Umgiesser, Davide Zanchettin. Venice flooding and sea level: past evolution, present issues, and future projections (introduction to the special issue). Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 2021; 21 (8): 2633 DOI: 10.5194/nhess-21-2633-2021
  2. E. V. Sheehan, L. A. Holmes, B. F. R. Davies, A. Cartwright, A. Rees, M. J. Attrill. Rewilding of Protected Areas Enhances Resilience of Marine Ecosystems to Extreme Climatic Events. Frontiers in Marine Science, 2021; 8 DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2021.671427
August 30, 2021

Episode 446 - Brains and Guts connected in surprising ways

Your brain and gut are connected in surprising ways. Inside your GI tract is a surprisingly complex nervous system. Your GI tract has it's own nervous system which is more like the spine than other organs. How does your GI tract differ from other soft hollow organs? The connection between gut microbiomes and brains is clear, but not well understood. Certain microbes can cause neurodegeneration in brains just as bad as a poor diet and no oxygen. How can we stop brains copy and pasting toxic byproducts across our brains? Proteins keep our brains in check and prevent build up of toxic byproducts, but this can be used to put the brakes on neurodegeneration.

 

References:

  1. Nick J. Spencer, Lee Travis, Lukasz Wiklendt, Marcello Costa, Timothy J. Hibberd, Simon J. Brookes, Phil Dinning, Hongzhen Hu, David A. Wattchow, Julian Sorensen. Long range synchronization within the enteric nervous system underlies propulsion along the large intestine in mice. Communications Biology, 2021; 4 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s42003-021-02485-4
  2. Christine A. Olson, Alonso J. Iñiguez, Grace E. Yang, Ping Fang, Geoffrey N. Pronovost, Kelly G. Jameson, Tomiko K. Rendon, Jorge Paramo, Jacob T. Barlow, Rustem F. Ismagilov, Elaine Y. Hsiao. Alterations in the gut microbiota contribute to cognitive impairment induced by the ketogenic diet and hypoxia. Cell Host & Microbe, 2021; DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2021.07.004
  3. Chingakham Ranjit Singh, M. Rebecca Glineburg, Chelsea Moore, Naoki Tani, Rahul Jaiswal, Ye Zou, Eric Aube, Sarah Gillaspie, Mackenzie Thornton, Ariana Cecil, Madelyn Hilgers, Azuma Takasu, Izumi Asano, Masayo Asano, Carlos R. Escalante, Akira Nakamura, Peter K. Todd, Katsura Asano. Human oncoprotein 5MP suppresses general and repeat-associated non-AUG translation via eIF3 by a common mechanism. Cell Reports, 2021; 36 (2): 109376 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109376
August 23, 2021

Episode 445 - De-carbonizing Transportation and Fertilizer

Can you really power a plane with enough batteries to fly across the world? How many batteries does a ship need to circumnavigate the globe? Is there an efficient way to stop relying on diesel and dirty jet fuel? How can we turn big CO2 emitters like ships and planes into CO2 negative systems? Can aviation and transport ever be carbon neutral? How can we make fertilizer without using so much energy? The Haber Bosch process helped feed the planet, but how can we replace it to save the planet?

 

References:

  1. Travis A. Schmauss, Scott A. Barnett. Viability of Vehicles Utilizing On-Board CO2 Capture. ACS Energy Letters, 2021; 3180 DOI: 10.1021/acsenergylett.1c01426
  2. Chade Lv, Lixiang Zhong, Hengjie Liu, Zhiwei Fang, Chunshuang Yan, Mengxin Chen, Yi Kong, Carmen Lee, Daobin Liu, Shuzhou Li, Jiawei Liu, Li Song, Gang Chen, Qingyu Yan, Guihua Yu. Selective electrocatalytic synthesis of urea with nitrate and carbon dioxide. Nature Sustainability, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41893-021-00741-3
August 16, 2021

Episode 444 - Deadly Creatures in Australia for Nat. Sci Week

It's National Science Week in Australia so we celebrate with some Aussie Science. What's more Aussie than dangerous creatures? Queensland Museum researchers have found even more spiders in Brisbane. Golden Trapdoors sound like they contain treasure, but since it's Australia we're talking about, its just another scary creature. Your average Brisbane backyard may contain more types of spiders than you imagine.  How did snakes evolve their deadly fangs? What came first the venom or the tooth? Why have so many different snakes evolved venom where Lizards haven't? In Australia even the plants can be deadly. We know tobaccos is dangerous, but in WA scientists have found an insect eating wild tobacco plant. Wild tobacco plants can thrive in odd places in Australia and can even chow down on Insects. 

  1. Wilson, J. D., & Rix, M. G. (2021). Systematics of the AUSTRALIAN golden trapdoor spiders of the EUOPLOS VARIABILIS-GROUP (Mygalomorphae : IDIOPIDAE : Euoplini): Parapatry And Sympatry between closely related species in SUBTROPICAL QUEENSLAND. Invertebrate Systematics. https://doi.org/10.1071/is20055
  2. Chase, M. W., & Christenhusz, M. J. (2021). 994. NICOTIANA INSECTICIDA: Solanaceae. Curtis's Botanical Magazine. https://doi.org/10.1111/curt.12402
  3. Palci, A., LeBlanc, A., Panagiotopoulou, O., Cleuren, S., Mehari Abraha, H., Hutchinson, M., Evans, A., Caldwell, M. and Lee, M., 2021. Plicidentine and the repeated origins of snake venom fangs. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 288(1956), p.20211391.
August 9, 2021

Episode 443 - Strange chemistry, ice, life and moons

Moons across our solar system have rich chemistry that may harbor life. Ganymede may have more water in it's 'oceans' than Earth. The makeup of Ganymede may include layers of ice, oceans and even water vapor atmospheres. Piecing together data from Hubble, Galileo and Juno to help crack the mystery of Ganymede's atmosphere. Melting ice on Ganymede's surface could explain the odd atmosphere. Enceladus has great geysers but they contain more methane than we can explain...unless we consider biological systems. Enceladus has many mysteries beneath it's ice, but could geothermal vents help explain whats in it's geysers? Cassini did a daring flyby through Enceladus' geysers, but they were filled with many things we did not expect.

  1. Lorenz Roth, Nickolay Ivchenko, G. Randall Gladstone, Joachim Saur, Denis Grodent, Bertrand Bonfond, Philippa M. Molyneux, Kurt D. Retherford. A sublimated water atmosphere on Ganymede detected from Hubble Space Telescope observations. Nature Astronomy, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-021-01426-9
  2. Antonin Affholder, François Guyot, Boris Sauterey, Régis Ferrière, Stéphane Mazevet. Bayesian analysis of Enceladus’s plume data to assess methanogenesis. Nature Astronomy, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-021-01372-6
August 2, 2021

Episode 442 - Just what is a metal anyway

Just what is a metal anyway? It can be hard to classify things, no matter what you do there's always exceptions to the rules. Chemists, Physicists and Astrophysicists have wildly differing opinions on what a metal is. Although there is disagreement about what makes a metal, can you find new exceptions? What needs to happen to turn water into a metal? Can pure water be made to conduct electricity without needing a Jupiter sized planet? How do you turn water into a golden, shimmering, conducting metal? 
References:

  1. Philip E. Mason, H. Christian Schewe, Tillmann Buttersack, Vojtech Kostal, Marco Vitek, Ryan S. McMullen, Hebatallah Ali, Florian Trinter, Chin Lee, Daniel M. Neumark, Stephan Thürmer, Robert Seidel, Bernd Winter, Stephen E. Bradforth, Pavel Jungwirth. Spectroscopic evidence for a gold-coloured metallic water solution. Nature, 2021; 595 (7869): 673 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03646-5