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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.

August 26, 2019

Episode 341 - Forming, Saving and preserving new memories

Your brain uses proteins synthesis and redundancy to help form and keep memories. Intricate biochemistry helps your neurons connect to each other to form new memories. Forming new memories is a sticky situation.  Keeping them stuck together over time in a long lasting memory relies on protein synthesis. Its important not just to have strong connections between neurons to form memories, you also need spares. By having redundancy and backups it means that you can still remember a key memory if one of those connections fails.


  1. Lenzie Ford et al. CPEB3 inhibits translation of mRNA targets by localizing them to P bodiesPNAS, 2019 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1815275116
  2. Walter G. Gonzalez, Hanwen Zhang, Anna Harutyunyan, Carlos Lois. Persistence of neuronal representations through time and damage in the hippocampusScience, 2019: Vol. 365, Issue 6455, pp. 821-825 DOI: 10.1126/science.aav9199
August 19, 2019

Episode 340 - Insects revolutionizing agriculture

Insects are often thought of as the enemy of farmers, but they can help improve farming. From helpful worm pheromones, to farming crickets and hungry termites. Worms can help boost the resilience of crops like wheat, corn and maize to common threats. Worm pheromones help plants fight back against bacteria, viral and fungal invaders. If insects are the super food of the future, how do you successfully farm them on a large scale? What nutrient rich feed do insect farms need to give their herds? If you are growing crickets and locusts do they need different food? What food is best for termites and how can they be used to help better manage forest?


  1. Daniel F. Klessig, Murli Manohar, Shine Baby, Aline Koch, Wiseborn B. Danquah, Emily Luna, Hee‐Jin Park, Judith M. Kolkman, B. Gillian Turgeon, Rebecca Nelson, Jan E. Leach, Valerie M. Williamson, Karl‐Heinz Kogel, Aardra Kachroo, Frank C. Schroeder. Nematode ascaroside enhances resistance in a broad spectrum of plant–pathogen systems. Journal of Phytopathology, 2019; 167 (5): 265 DOI: 10.1111/jph.12795
  2. P. Straub, C.M. Tanga, I. Osuga, W. Windisch, S. Subramanian. Experimental feeding studies with crickets and locusts on the use of feed mixtures composed of storable feed materials commonly used in livestock production. Animal Feed Science and Technology, 2019; 255: 114215 DOI: 10.1016/j.anifeedsci.2019.114215
  3. Martin F. Jurgensen, Chris A. Miller, Carl T. Trettin, Deborah S. Page-Dumroese. Bedding of Wetland Soil: Effects of Bed Height and Termite Activity on Wood Decomposition. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 2019; 0 (0): 0 DOI: 10.2136/sssaj2018.12.0492
August 12, 2019

Episode 339 - Australian Science - life on gold, in the oceans and in deadly gas

To celebrate National Science Week in Australia we are turning our attention to Australian research on the global scale. This week it means tales from microbiology. Stories of how life can survive or sometimes thrive in strange situations. Whether it be Fungi that eat gold, or bacteria chewing deadly gas, microbiology is always full of surprises. How do the tiniest parts of the food-web of our oceans hunt for food in the swirling of stagnant currents of the ocean? How do bacteria turn deadly gas into a food source? Is the secret to tuberculosis's resistance its ability to survive off deadly gas? How do bacteria turn carbon monoxide and hydrogen into something palatable?


  1. Cordero, P. R., Bayly, K., Leung, P. M., Huang, C., Islam, Z. F., Schittenhelm, R. B., . . . Greening, C. (2019). Atmospheric carbon monoxide oxidation is a widespread mechanism supporting microbial survival. The ISME Journal. doi:10.1038/s41396-019-0479-8
  2. Islam, Z. F., Cordero, P. R., Feng, J., Chen, Y., Bay, S. K., Jirapanjawat, T., . . . Greening, C. (2018). Two Chloroflexi classes independently evolved the ability to persist on atmospheric hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The ISME Journal. doi:10.1101/457697
  3. Lehmann, E. (n.d.). Gold-coated fungi are the new gold diggers. Retrieved from https://www.csiro.au/en/News/News-releases/2019/Gold-coated-fungi-are-the-new-gold-diggers
  4. Bohu, T., Anand, R., Noble, R., Lintern, M., Kaksonen, A. H., Mei, Y., . . . Verrall, M. (2019). Evidence for fungi and gold redox interaction under Earth surface conditions. Nature Communications, 10(1). doi:10.1038/s41467-019-10006-5
  5. Holland, D., & University of Melbourne. (2019, August 05). The superheroes of nutrient detection living in our oceans. Retrieved from https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/the-superheroes-of-nutrient-detection-living-in-our-oceans#
  6. Brumley, D. R., Carrara, F., Hein, A. M., Yawata, Y., Levin, S. A., & Stocker, R. (2019). Bacteria push the limits of chemotactic precision to navigate dynamic chemical gradients. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(22), 10792-10797. doi:10.1073/pnas.1816621116
August 5, 2019

Episode 338 - Exoplanets boiling and stretching, Goldilocks and Supernova

Boiling planets being stretched and squished. Tiny white dwarf stars going supernova. Goldilocks planets potentially with liquid water. Exoplanet hunting is now a lot easier with missions like TESS and veterans like Hubble. We look at some special cases, and how searching for 1 planet can uncover loads more. Sometimes planets are lurking in old observatory data, we just need to know where to look. Too hot, too cold, GJ357 potentially has a planet that's just right with liquid water. What causes a White Dwarf to go supernova? It needs more than itself to kickstart it into a Type 1a nova...so where does the extra boost come from? Devouring another planet? Or another star?

  1. L. Kaltenegger, J. Madden, Z. Lin, S. Rugheimer, A. Segura, R. Luque, E. Palle, N. Espinoza. The Habitability of GJ 357 d Possible Climates and Observability. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 2019; (accepted) [link]
  2. R. Luque, E. Pallé, D. Kossakowski, S. Dreizler, J. Kemmer, N. Espinoza. Planetary system around the nearby M dwarf GJ 357 including a transiting, hot, Earth-sized planet optimal for atmospheric characterization. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2019; DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201935801
  3. David K. Sing, Panayotis Lavvas, Gilda E. Ballester, Alain Lecavelier des Etangs, Mark S. Marley, Nikolay Nikolov, Lotfi Ben-Jaffel, Vincent Bourrier, Lars A. Buchhave, Drake L. Deming, David Ehrenreich, Thomas Mikal-Evans, Tiffany Kataria, Nikole K. Lewis, Mercedes López-Morales, Antonio García Muñoz, Gregory W. Henry, Jorge Sanz-Forcada, Jessica J. Spake, Hannah R. Wakeford. The Hubble Space Telescope PanCET Program: Exospheric Mg ii and Fe ii in the Near-ultraviolet Transmission Spectrum of WASP-121b Using Jitter Decorrelation. The Astronomical Journal, 2019; 158 (2): 91 DOI: 10.3847/1538-3881/ab2986
  4. P J Vallely, M Fausnaugh, S W Jha, M A Tucker, Y Eweis, B J Shappee, C S Kochanek, K Z Stanek, Ping Chen, Subo Dong, J L Prieto, T Sukhbold, Todd A Thompson, J Brimacombe, M D Stritzinger, T W-S Holoien, D A H Buckley, M Gromadzki, Subhash Bose. ASASSN-18tb: a most unusual Type Ia supernova observed by TESS and SALT. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2019; 487 (2): 2372 DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stz1445