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Category: Science & Medicine

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.

September 24, 2018

Episode 293 - Finding a fly in you drink, plus placebos on the brain - Ignobel Prize ‘18 Part 2


Can a single fly ruin a drink? How long does the fly even need to be in there to destroy the quality and taste? How does a fly even manage to ruin your sense of taste? These important questions were answered by the winners of the Ignobel Prize 2018 in Biology. 

Does having a more expensive label on something make it feel 'better' to eat, drink or use? What's going on in our brain when the "Label Placebo" effect takes hold? If you're an expert are you more easily swayed by the placebo than a regular person?

  1. "The Scent of the Fly," Paul G. Becher, Sebastien Lebreton, Erika A. Wallin, Erik Hedenstrom, Felipe Borrero-Echeverry, Marie Bengtsson, Volker Jorger, and Peter Witzgall, bioRxiv, no. 20637, 2017.
  2. Marketing actions can modulate neural representations of experienced pleasantness, Hilke Plassmann, John O'Doherty, Baba Shiv, Antonio Rangel, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Jan 2008, 105 (3) 1050-1054; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0706929105
  3. Goldstein, R., Almenberg, J., Dreber, A., Emerson, J., Herschkowitsch, A. and Katz, J. (2008). Do More Expensive Wines Taste Better? Evidence from a Large Sample of Blind Tastings. Journal of Wine Economics, 3(01), pp.1-9.
  4. Liane Schmidt, Vasilisa Skvortsova, Claus Kullen, Bernd Weber, Hilke Plassmann. How context alters value: The brain’s valuation and affective regulation system link price cues to experienced taste pleasantnessScientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-08080-0
  5. Trei, L. (2018). Price changes way people experience wine, study finds. [online] Stanford University. Available at: https://news.stanford.edu/news/2008/january16/wine-011608.html [Accessed 15 Sep. 2018].
September 17, 2018

Episode 292 - Roller coasters for medical treatment - Ignobel Prize 2018 Part 1


It's Ignobel Prize 2018 time. As part of Improbable Research's celebration of curious and comedic science, we find out the rollercoasters, and how they are just what the doctor ordered. The Ignobel Prize 2018 in Medicine went to Mitchel and Wartinger for their ground breaking work into how to use rollercoasters to treat Kidney stones. We look into how rollercoasters work, their impact on the body, and how it can help pass kidney stones. Plus we look at some research into how rollercoaster g-force can impact your brain. 



  1. Marc A. Mitchell, David D. Wartinger. Validation of a Functional Pyelocalyceal Renal Model for the Evaluation of Renal Calculi Passage While Riding a Roller Coaster. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 2016; 116 (10): 647 DOI: 10.7556/jaoa.2016.128
  2. ROLLER COASTER PHYSICS & G FORCES - COASTERFORCE. (2018). Retrieved from http://coasterforce.com/physics/
  3. DeHart, Roy L. (2002). Fundamentals of Aerospace Medicine: 3rd Edition. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  4. "NASA Physiological Acceleration Systems". Web.archive.org. 2008-05-20. Archived from the original on 2008-05-20. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
  5. NASA Technical note D-337, Centrifuge Study of Pilot Tolerance to Acceleration and the Effects of Acceleration on Pilot Performance, by Brent Y. Creer, Captain Harald A. Smedal, USN (MC), and Rodney C. Vtlfngrove, figure 10
  6. NASA Technical note D-337, Centrifuge Study of Pilot Tolerance to Acceleration and the Effects of Acceleration on Pilot Performance, by Brent Y. Creer, Captain Harald A. Smedal, USN (MC), and Rodney C. Vtlfngrove
  7. Kuo, Calvin & Wu, Lyndia & P Ye, Patrick & Laksari, Kaveh & Benjamin Camarillo, David & Kuhl, Ellen. (2017). Pilot Findings of Brain Displacements and Deformations During Roller Coaster Rides. Journal of neurotrauma. 34. 10.1089/neu.2016.4893.
September 10, 2018

Episode 291 - Concussion science, assessment frameworks and biomarkers


Concussions are a serious issue for everyone from the largest professional leagues to the weekend amateurs. The CDC has released some updated guidelines for assessing concussions and we dive into some new tests to help take the decision out of players hands and back it up with some sound evidence. 

  1. Angela Lumba-Brown, David W. Wright, Kelly Sarmiento, Debra Houry. Emergency Department Implementation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Pediatric Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Guideline RecommendationsAnnals of Emergency Medicine, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2018.03.045
  2. Johnson VE, Stewart W, Smith DH. Axonal pathology in traumatic brain injury. Experimental Neurology. 246: 35-43 (2013).
  3. Ling H, Hardy, J, Zetterberg H. Neurological consequences of traumatic brain injuries in sports. Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience. 66(B): 114-122 (2015).
  4. Alexander M. Weber, Anna Pukropski, Christian Kames, Michael Jarrett, Shiroy Dadachanji, Jack Taunton, David K. B. Li, Alexander Rauscher. Pathological Insights From Quantitative Susceptibility Mapping and Diffusion Tensor Imaging in Ice Hockey Players Pre and Post-concussionFrontiers in Neurology, 2018; 9 DOI: 10.3389/fneur.2018.00575
  5. Pashtun Shahim, Yelverton Tegner, Niklas Marklund, Kaj Blennow, Henrik Zetterberg. Neurofilament light and tau as blood biomarkers for sports-related concussionNeurology, 2018; 10.1212/WNL.0000000000005518 DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000005518
September 3, 2018

Episode 290 - The strange chemistry of exoplanets from their cores to atmospheres


Exoplanets are home to some extremely out of this world chemistry. From raining diamonds, to gaseous iron and titanium, even to secret supplies of water. If we want to understand just how unique our place in the universe is, we can try and replicate the odd conditions of exoplanets right here on earth. 



  1. Peter M. Celliers et al. Insulator-metal transition in dense fluid deuteriumScience, 2018 DOI: 10.1126/science.aat0970
  2. Sergey S. Lobanov, Qiang Zhu, Nicholas Holtgrewe, Clemens Prescher, Vitali B. Prakapenka, Artem R. Oganov, Alexander F. Goncharov. Stable magnesium peroxide at high pressureScientific Reports, 2015; 5: 13582 DOI: 10.1038/srep13582
  3. H. Jens Hoeijmakers, David Ehrenreich, Kevin Heng, Daniel Kitzmann, Simon L. Grimm, Romain Allart, Russell Deitrick, Aurélien Wyttenbach, Maria Oreshenko, Lorenzo Pino, Paul B. Rimmer, Emilio Molinari, Luca Di Fabrizio. Atomic iron and titanium in the atmosphere of the exoplanet KELT-9bNature, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0401-y
  4. Goldschmidt Conference. (2018, August 18). Water-worlds are common: Exoplanets may contain vast amounts of water. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 18, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180818115758.htm