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3Episodes
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.

June 30, 2019

Episode 333 - Saving which bees and where

Saving the bees has gotten widespread understanding, but it is more nuanced than a simple sound bite. Which bees are in danger and where? How many bee species are out there and are under threat? Can domesticated bees spread disease to wild populations? How do wild flowers help feed bees but also spread disease? Can different types of crop cycles help both wild and domesticated bees thrive? We know of colony collapse disorder and pesticides, but what other threats are out there to bee populations? Does the urban sprawl play a role in destabilising the gender balance of the bee populations? Why do bee populations drop off as you approach the city?

References:

  1. Samantha A. Alger, P. Alexander Burnham, Humberto F. Boncristiani, Alison K. Brody. RNA virus spillover from managed honeybees (Apis mellifera) to wild bumblebees (Bombus spp.). PLOS ONE, 2019; 14 (6): e0217822 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0217822
  2. Dimitry Wintermantel, Jean-François Odoux, Joël Chadœuf, Vincent Bretagnolle. Organic farming positively affects honeybee colonies in a flower-poor period in agricultural landscapes. Journal of Applied Ecology, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13447
  3. Gordon Fitch, Paul Glaum, Maria-Carolina Simao, Chatura Vaidya, Jill Matthijs, Benjamin Iuliano, Ivette Perfecto. Changes in adult sex ratio in wild bee communities are linked to urbanization. Scientific Reports, 2019; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-39601-8
June 24, 2019

Episode 332 - Affordable, smart and helpful prosthetics

Getting a prosthetic limb to feel natural and comfortable without spending a fortune is incredibly difficult. Plus the human body (and prosthetics) change over time. So how can you make a prosthetic better match it's user? We look at three stories of adaptive prosthetics and finding ways to make use of new technology to help improve lives. From building an elaborate treadmill contraption to hearing through your fingers.

 

When you stumble your brain goes into overdrive to keep you standing, but what exactly does it do? 

 

Affordable and comfortably fitting prosthetic limbs are especially important for children who grow out of them quickly. How can we make them more responsive?

 

Hearing words clearly in a noisy environment is especially hard on those with hearing aids. But can your fingers help out?

 

Vanderbilt University researchers built an elaborate treadmill to trip people, with the goal of helping advance prosthetic research. 

 

Using 3D scanning, printing and embedded sensors, researchers are making prosthetic better matched to their users.

 

People often say look with your eyes not your fingers, but can you use your fingers to hear as well?

 

Embedding sensors into 3D printed prosthetics can help adapt the design to better suit the actual wear and tear from the body. 

 

Using an elaborate tripping contraption on a treadmill, Vanderbilt university researchers hope to stop prosthetic leg users falling over. 

 

  1. Yuxin Tong, Ezgi Kucukdeger, Justin Halper, Ellen Cesewski, Elena Karakozoff, Alexander P. Haring, David McIlvain, Manjot Singh, Nikita Khandelwal, Alex Meholic, Sahil Laheri, Akshay Sharma, Blake N. Johnson. Low-cost sensor-integrated 3D-printed personalized prosthetic hands for children with amniotic band syndrome: A case study in sensing pressure distribution on an anatomical human-machine interface (AHMI) using 3D-printed conformal electrode arrays. PLOS ONE, 2019; 14 (3): e0214120 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0214120
  2. Shane T. King, Maura E. Eveld, Andrés Martínez, Karl E. Zelik, Michael Goldfarb. A novel system for introducing precisely-controlled, unanticipated gait perturbations for the study of stumble recovery. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 2019; 16 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s12984-019-0527-7
  3. Katarzyna Cieśla, Tomasz Wolak, Artur Lorens, Benedetta Heimler, Henryk Skarżyński, Amir Amedi. Immediate improvement of speech-in-noise perception through multisensory stimulation via an auditory to tactile sensory substitution. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, 2019; 37 (2): 155 DOI: 10.3233/RNN-190898
June 17, 2019

Episode 331 - Making modern technology less energy intensive

Our modern world relies on energy, and some of it produce a lot of carbon dioxide. How can we make everything from air travel to wearable tech be less carbon intensive? Is there a way to make jet fuel or power ships that is carbon neutral? Just how much energy do crypto currency burn up? What is the impact of all this Bitcoin speculation on the health of the planet? From Fitbits to smart watches and Pokemon Go, wearable tech is a big trend, but how can we make these devices power themselves. There is a lot of excess energy when we walk and move, so can we use this to power our technology?

References:

  1. ETH Zurich. (2019, June 13). Carbon-neutral fuel made from sunlight and air. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 15, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/06/190613103146.htm
  2. Christian Stoll, Lena Klaaßen, Ulrich Gallersdörfer. The Carbon Footprint of BitcoinJoule, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.joule.2019.05.012
  3. Michael G. Stanford, John T. Li, Yieu Chyan, Zhe Wang, Winston Wang, James M. Tour. Laser-Induced Graphene Triboelectric NanogeneratorsACS Nano, 2019; DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.9b02596
June 10, 2019

Episode 330 - A cells journey, from birth to death

This week we dive into the complicated history of cells and try to figure out if you are still the same ship. How does a cell know what it wants to grow up to be? What helps it make the decision to be an optic nerve, a neuron or part of your jawbone? How old are all the cells in your body? Are they all the same age, and what does age even mean anyway? This week we dive into the complicated history of cells and try to figure out if you are still the same ship. 

References:

  1. Rafael Arrojo e Drigo, Varda Lev-Ram, Swati Tyagi, Ranjan Ramachandra, Thomas Deerinck, Eric Bushong, Sebastien Phan, Victoria Orphan, Claude Lechene, Mark H. Ellisman, Martin W. Hetzer. Age Mosaicism across Multiple Scales in Adult Tissues. Cell Metabolism, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2019.05.010
  2. Ruslan Soldatov, Marketa Kaucka, Maria Eleni Kastriti, Julian Petersen, Tatiana Chontorotzea, Lukas Englmaier, Natalia Akkuratova, Yunshi Yang, Martin Häring, Viacheslav Dyachuk, Christoph Bock, Matthias Farlik, Michael L. Piacentino, Franck Boismoreau, Markus M. Hilscher, Chika Yokota, Xiaoyan Qian, Mats Nilsson, Marianne E. Bronner, Laura Croci, Wen-Yu Hsiao, Jean-Francois Brunet, Gian Giacomo Consalez, Patrik Ernfors, Kaj Fried, Peter V. Kharchenko, Igor Adameyko. Spatiotemporal structure of cell fate decisions in murine neural crest. Science, 2019; 364 (6444): eaas9536 DOI: 10.1126/science.aas9536
June 3, 2019

Episode 329 - Mysteries from the formation of our solar systems

There are many things we don't understand from the formation of our solar system. Why did Jupiter end up with weird asymmetrical groupings of asteroids around it? Is there a region of dust free space around the sun? If there is why can't we find it? What caused the beautiful rings of dust millions of kms wide around Venus and Mercury? Where did that dust come from? All these questions and more as we unpack the hidden parts of our solar system.

References:

  1. Petr Pokorný, Marc Kuchner. Co-orbital Asteroids as the Source of Venus's Zodiacal Dust Ring. The Astrophysical Journal, 2019; 873 (2): L16 DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ab0827
  2. S. Pirani, A. Johansen, B. Bitsch, A.J. Mustill, D. Turrini. Consequences of planetary migration on the minor bodies of the early solar system. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2019; DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201833713