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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.

September 30, 2019

Episode 346 - Can washing machines help stop microplastics in oceans and make hospitals safer

Washing machines can save a lot of time and help clean up mess, but they can also harm our health and environment. Which washing process is better for the environment - full an fast or empty and delicate? How do washing machines help fill our oceans with microplastics? What can be done to help stop washing machines contributing to the microplastics in our waterways? Which washing setting is best for your health? Cold and clean or warm and soapy? How did a normal washing machine cause havoc in a hospital? How can you multi-drug resistant pathogens spread through a washing machine? 


  1. American Society for Microbiology. (2019, September 27). Your energy-efficient washing machine could be harboring pathogens: Lower temperatures used in 'energy saver' washing machines may not be killing all pathogens. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 29, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190927135202.htm
  2. Max R. Kelly, Neil J. Lant, Martyn Kurr, J. Grant Burgess. Importance of Water-Volume on the Release of Microplastic Fibers from LaundryEnvironmental Science & Technology, 2019; DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b03022
September 23, 2019

Episode 345 - Overactive immune brain cells and brain cells failing to eat themselves

Is it possible to stop Alzheimer's in it's tracks? How does the formation of plaques on your brain cells lead to Alzheimer's. Does the your brain immune cells fighting back against plaques lead to Alzheimers? Amino acids in the brain tying themselves into knots, can lead to super strong sealed zippers forming which dry out proteins, damage neurons and eventually can lead to diseases like Alzheimer's. An enzyme missing a repair or two over 60 years can lead to build up of kinked amino acids chains which can lead to neuron-degenerative diseases. What causes a cell to eat itself? Well its actually a pretty healthy thing to do. If a brain cell doesn't eat itself at the right time, well it can lead to a whole bunch of diseases.

  1. Rebeccah A. Warmack, David R. Boyer, Chih-Te Zee, Logan S. Richards, Michael R. Sawaya, Duilio Cascio, Tamir Gonen, David S. Eisenberg, Steven G. Clarke. Structure of amyloid-β (20-34) with Alzheimer’s-associated isomerization at Asp23 reveals a distinct protofilament interfaceNature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-11183-z
  2. Elizabeth Spangenberg, Paul L. Severson, Lindsay A. Hohsfield, Joshua Crapser, Jiazhong Zhang, Elizabeth A. Burton, Ying Zhang, Wayne Spevak, Jack Lin, Nicole Y. Phan, Gaston Habets, Andrey Rymar, Garson Tsang, Jason Walters, Marika Nespi, Parmveer Singh, Stephanie Broome, Prabha Ibrahim, Chao Zhang, Gideon Bollag, Brian L. West, Kim N. Green. Sustained microglial depletion with CSF1R inhibitor impairs parenchymal plaque development in an Alzheimer’s disease modelNature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-11674-z
  3. Yi Yang, Thea L. Willis, Robert W. Button, Conor J. Strang, Yuhua Fu, Xue Wen, Portia R. C. Grayson, Tracey Evans, Rebecca J. Sipthorpe, Sheridan L. Roberts, Bing Hu, Jianke Zhang, Boxun Lu, Shouqing Luo. Cytoplasmic DAXX drives SQSTM1/p62 phase condensation to activate Nrf2-mediated stress responseNature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-11671-2
September 16, 2019

Episode 344 - Colliding galaxies, stellar foundires and the emptiness of space

We look at galactic events, where galaxies collide, stars form and emptiness of space. Space is so unfathomably huge, but its still possible for galaxies to collide. The Milky Way was formed through one of this violent collisions over 10 billion years ago. Space seems empty but there are sections of space that are emptier than others, the great Local Void around the Local group. Stars forming in galaxies rely on gas clouds, but what does it take to form a star? What do you need to really make a good nursery for stars?

  1. R. Brent Tully, Daniel Pomarède, Romain Graziani, Hélène M. Courtois, Yehuda Hoffman, Edward J. Shaya. Cosmicflows-3: Cosmography of the Local VoidThe Astrophysical Journal, 2019; 880 (1): 24 DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ab2597
  2. Kazufumi Torii, Shinji Fujita, Atsushi Nishimura, Kazuki Tokuda, Mikito Kohno, Kengo Tachihara, Shu-ichiro Inutsuka, Mitsuhiro Matsuo, Mika Kuriki, Yuya Tsuda, Tetsuhiro Minamidani, Tomofumi Umemoto, Nario Kuno, Yusuke Miyamoto. FOREST Unbiased Galactic plane Imaging survey with the Nobeyama 45 m telescope (FUGIN). V. Dense gas mass fraction of molecular gas in the Galactic planePublications of the Astronomical Society of Japan, 2019; DOI: 10.1093/pasj/psz033
  3. Carme Gallart, Edouard J. Bernard, Chris B. Brook, Tomás Ruiz-Lara, Santi Cassisi, Vanessa Hill, Matteo Monelli. Uncovering the birth of the Milky Way through accurate stellar ages with GaiaNature Astronomy, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-019-0829-5
September 9, 2019

Episode 343 - The circadian rhythm of plants, and fighting back against fungus

Growing enough food to feed the planet is a challenge that will only get harder as the climate changes. So how do farmers and scientists work together to make crops more sustainable, more resilient to disease, and use less herbicides? With genetic engineering, one of the worlds most important crops, rice, can be made even tougher. Using a two type bait gene, rice can be engineered to fight off fungus like rice blast. If you have to spray with herbicides, when should you do it? Well you need to pay attention to the circadian rhythm of the plants.

  1. Freya A Varden, Hiromasa Saitoh, Kae Yoshino, Marina Franceschetti, Sophien Kamoun, Ryohei Terauchi, Mark J. Banfield. Cross-reactivity of a rice NLR immune receptor to distinct effectors from the rice blast pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae provides partial disease resistanceJournal of Biological Chemistry, 2019; jbc.RA119.007730 DOI: 10.1074/jbc.RA119.007730
  2. Fiona E. Belbin, Gavin J. Hall, Amelia B. Jackson, Florence E. Schanschieff, George Archibald, Carl Formstone, Antony N. Dodd. Plant circadian rhythms regulate the effectiveness of a glyphosate-based herbicideNature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-11709-5
September 2, 2019

Episode 342 - Better chemistry and physics in everyday objects

How can we use physics and chemistry to help improve our everyday objects? Melting ice is very important for airplanes and air-conditioners. How can you melt unwanted on objects ice more efficiently? Ice on an airplane wing can be dangerous, so how do we melt it more efficiently. Flame retardants are important to stop fire spreading, but how do we make them safer and environmentally friendly? Flame retardants often rely on petroleum which are not environmental friendly. How can we stop flame retardants leeching into the environment or into our households? How do you get white paint without relying on environmentally intensive additives. What can beetles and recycle plastic teach us about making whiter paint.


  1. S. Chavan, T. Foulkes, Y. Gurumukhi, K. Boyina, K. F. Rabbi, N. Miljkovic. Pulse interfacial defrosting. Applied Physics Letters, 2019; 115 (7): 071601 DOI: 10.1063/1.5113845
  2. Stephanie L. Burg, Adam Washington, David M. Coles, Antonino Bianco, Daragh McLoughlin, Oleksandr O. Mykhaylyk, Julie Villanova, Andrew J. C. Dennison, Christopher J. Hill, Pete Vukusic, Scott Doak, Simon J. Martin, Mark Hutchings, Steven R. Parnell, Cvetelin Vasilev, Nigel Clarke, Anthony J. Ryan, Will Furnass, Mike Croucher, Robert M. Dalgliesh, Sylvain Prevost, Rajeev Dattani, Andrew Parker, Richard A. L. Jones, J. Patrick A. Fairclough, Andrew J. Parnell. Liquid–liquid phase separation morphologies in ultra-white beetle scales and a synthetic equivalent. Communications Chemistry, 2019; 2 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s42004-019-0202-8
  3. American Chemical Society. (2019, August 26). Flame retardants -- from plants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 31, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190826092330.htm