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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.

November 18, 2019

Episode 353 - Mysteries of plants, from using rare metals to boosting photosynthesis

Plants play an important role in our environment, yet there is still so much more to understand. We often think of nature as a zero sum game, but older and younger plants can collaborate. When surviving in a harsh environment, the best results occur when old and young plants grow together. Photosynthesis seems simple, but understanding the intricacies of the mechanisms can help us boost crop yields. Regulating the amount of photosynthesis can help plants survive or thrive in changing climates. How do boreal forests help capture nitrogen from the air? What does an odd metal have to do with forests in Canada storing nitrogen? 

  1. Alicia Montesinos-Navarro, Isabelle Storer, Rocío Perez-Barrales. Benefits for nurse and facilitated plants emerge when interactions are considered along the entire life-spanPerspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 2019; 41: 125483 DOI: 10.1016/j.ppees.2019.125483
  2. Lorna A. Malone, Pu Qian, Guy E. Mayneord, Andrew Hitchcock, David A. Farmer, Rebecca F. Thompson, David J. K. Swainsbury, Neil A. Ranson, C. Neil Hunter, Matthew P. Johnson. Cryo-EM structure of the spinach cytochrome b6 f complex at 3.6 Å resolutionNature, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1746-6
  3. Princeton University. (2019, November 11). Nature's backup plan for converting nitrogen into plant nutrients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 15, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/11/191111180100.htm
November 11, 2019

Episode 352 - Figuring out where sound comes from and perceiving pitch

This week we look at the way our brains process sound, music, pitch and rhythm. How does our brain figure out where a sound is coming from? Do our eyes and ears process distance and location in a similar way? How does our brain discern differences in stimuli? What can we learn about pitch and rhythm from studying a remote Bolivian tribe? Is there a biological limit to our perception of sounds? Is our ability to perceive rhythm, chords and pitch cultural or biological?


  1. Antje Ihlefeld, Nima Alamatsaz, Robert M Shapley. Population rate-coding predicts correctly that human sound localization depends on sound intensityeLife, 2019; 8 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.47027
  2. Nori Jacoby, Eduardo A. Undurraga, Malinda J. McPherson, Joaquín Valdés, Tomás Ossandón, Josh H. McDermott. Universal and Non-universal Features of Musical Pitch Perception Revealed by SingingCurrent Biology, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.08.020
November 4, 2019

Episode 351 - A new dwarf planet and what makes an exoplanet habitable

What makes a dwarf planet not a planet? What are the rules governing the word planet? Just how many dwarf planets are out there in our solar system? How can we use telescopes and modelling to add or subtract a dwarf planet from that list? We've talked about Goldilocks zone exoplanets, but what about their ability to withstand space weather? What role does a star's magnetic field play in protecting a planet from damaging radiation? Does space weather need to be added to the exoplanet Goldilocks zone?


  1. P. Vernazza, L. Jorda, P. Ševeček, M. Brož, M. Viikinkoski, J. Hanuš, B. Carry, A. Drouard, M. Ferrais, M. Marsset, F. Marchis, M. Birlan, E. Podlewska-Gaca, E. Jehin, P. Bartczak, G. Dudzinski, J. Berthier, J. Castillo-Rogez, F. Cipriani, F. Colas, F. DeMeo, C. Dumas, J. Durech, R. Fetick, T. Fusco, J. Grice, M. Kaasalainen, A. Kryszczynska, P. Lamy, H. Le Coroller, A. Marciniak, T. Michalowski, P. Michel, N. Rambaux, T. Santana-Ros, P. Tanga, F. Vachier, A. Vigan, O. Witasse, B. Yang, M. Gillon, Z. Benkhaldoun, R. Szakats, R. Hirsch, R. Duffard, A. Chapman, J. L. Maestre. A basin-free spherical shape as an outcome of a giant impact on asteroid Hygiea. Nature Astronomy, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-019-0915-8
  2. Alison O. Farrish, David Alexander, Mei Maruo, Marc DeRosa, Frank Toffoletto, Anthony M. Sciola. Characterizing the Magnetic Environment of Exoplanet Stellar Systems. The Astrophysical Journal, 2019; 885 (1): 51 DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ab4652