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403Episodes
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 29, 2020

Episode 385 - Understanding what makes water stick together

What seems simple but it's deceptively complex. What makes water molecules stick together, or ice to float on top? Water has many mysteries, like ice floating on liquid. The key lies in the energy distribution. Shooting super high frequency lasers at water can help figure out what makes ice float or water stick together. Cheap and efficient ways to clean water is essential for saving lives across the globe. How can cyrstaline sponges help soak up bad chemicals like hexavalent chromium.

  1. Martina Havenith-Newen, Raffael Schwan, Chen Qu, Devendra Mani, Nitish Pal, Gerhard Schwaab, Joel M. Bowman, Gregory Tschumper. Observation of the low frequency spectrum of water trimer as a sensitive test of the water trimer potential and the dipole moment surface. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2020; DOI: 10.1002/anie.202003851
  2. Bardiya Valizadeh, Tu N. Nguyen, Stavroula Kampouri, Daniel T. Sun, Mounir D. Mensi, Kyriakos Stylianou, Berend Smit, Wendy L. Queen. A novel integrated Cr(vi) adsorption–photoreduction system using MOF@polymer composite beads. Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 2020; DOI: 10.1039/d0ta01046d
June 22, 2020

Episode 384 - Plants regenerating and fighting off invaders

How do plants manage to recover from damage or fungal attacks? What happens when you shoot a laser at some cress? Studying the way plants respond to damage helps us understand their regeneration methods. Plant cells can regenerate to recover from damage, but what controls this process? Fighting off a fungal invasion means an arms race between plants and fungus. Plants like cabbage use a special mustard oil bomb to fight back against fungal invaders. Fungal invaders like white mold can render even the most sophisticate plant defences useless.

  1. Lukas Hoermayer, Juan Carlos Montesinos, Petra Marhava, Eva Benková, Saiko Yoshida, Jiří Friml. Wounding-induced changes in cellular pressure and localized auxin signalling spatially coordinate restorative divisions in rootsProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2020; 202003346 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2003346117
  2. Jingyuan Chen, Chhana Ullah, Michael Reichelt, Franziska Beran, Zhi-Ling Yang, Jonathan Gershenzon, Almuth Hammerbacher, Daniel G. Vassão. The phytopathogenic fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum detoxifies plant glucosinolate hydrolysis products via an isothiocyanate hydrolaseNature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-16921-2
June 15, 2020

Episode 383 - Pulsars and fast radio bursts

From pulsars to fast radio bursts, we look at interstellar mysteries. Just how do Pulsars work? How long does it take for a Pulsar to be fed by surrounding matter? All that accretion disk matter spillaring around a Pulsar takes a long time to get there. What are Fast Radio Bursts? mysterious signals from deep space, or wobbly highly magnetised neutron stars? Magnetars, fast radio bursts and flares. What causes a fast radio burst in space to repeat?

  1. D R Lorimer, E F Keane, A Karastergiou, M Caleb, R P Breton, C G Bassa, D Agarwal, V Morello, B W Stappers, M B Mickaliger, K M Rajwade. Possible periodic activity in the repeating FRB 121102Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2020; 495 (4): 3551 DOI: 10.1093/mnras/staa1237
  2. Brian D Metzger, Ben Margalit, Lorenzo Sironi, Fast radio bursts as synchrotron maser emission from decelerating relativistic blast waves, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 485, Issue 3, May 2019, Pages 4091–4106, https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stz700
  3. Hall, S., & Quanta Magazine. (n.d.). A Surprise Discovery Points to the Source of Fast Radio Bursts. Retrieved June 13, 2020, from https://www.quantamagazine.org/a-surprise-discovery-shows-magnetars-create-fast-radio-bursts-20200611/
  4. Monash University. (2020, June 3). Astronomers capture a pulsar 'powering up'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 13, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/06/200603104549.htm
  5. A. J. Goodwin and D. M. Russell and D. K. Galloway et al, A 12 day delay between optical and X-ray activity during outburst rise in a low-mass X-ray binary, arXiv, astro-ph.HE, 2006.02872, 2020
June 8, 2020

Episode 382 - Animals keeping watch on our environment

Animals can help us monitor our environment for pollution. From silicon dog tags to tiger snakes in wetlands, animals can help us monitor pollution. How can silicon dog tags help protect humans from environmental pollutants? Cleaning up an oil spill is tricky, but with the right materials it's easy as wringing a sponge. Water hating but Oil loving magnetic sponges can help clean up after oil spills. How do Tiger snakes help us find the cleanest wetlands? Just how clean are urban wetlands?

  1. Catherine F. Wise, Stephanie C. Hammel, Nicholas Herkert, Jun Ma, Alison Motsinger-Reif, Heather M. Stapleton, Matthew Breen. Comparative Exposure Assessment Using Silicone Passive Samplers Indicates That Domestic Dogs Are Sentinels To Support Human Health Research. Environmental Science & Technology, 2020; DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b06605
  2. D. C. Lettoof, P. W. Bateman, F. Aubret, M. M. Gagnon. The Broad-Scale Analysis of Metals, Trace Elements, Organochlorine Pesticides and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Wetlands Along an Urban Gradient, and the Use of a High Trophic Snake as a Bioindicator. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 2020; 78 (4): 631 DOI: 10.1007/s00244-020-00724-z
  3. Vikas Nandwana, Stephanie M. Ribet, Roberto D. Reis, Yuyao Kuang, Yash More, Vinayak P. Dravid. OHM Sponge: A Versatile, Efficient, and Ecofriendly Environmental Remediation Platform. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 2020; DOI: 10.1021/acs.iecr.0c01493
June 1, 2020

Episode 381 - A good nights sleep and finding it hard to wake up in the morning

Finding it hard to wake up in the morning when it's cold? Don't worry you're not alone. What can we Fruit Flies teach us about wanting to stay in bed especially when it's cold outside? How do the cycles of temperature and light impact sleep? Is the right temperature key to a good night's rest? Is the optimum temperature hard coded in creatures brain or is it all relative? Getting a good night's sleep is important for keeping your brain healthy. What can zebrafish and fruit flies help us understand about getting a good night's sleep? Is there a connection between a good night's sleep and cleaning out unwanted proteins in your brain?

  1. Michael H. Alpert, Dominic D. Frank, Evan Kaspi, Matthieu Flourakis, Emanuela E. Zaharieva, Ravi Allada, Alessia Para, Marco Gallio. A Circuit Encoding Absolute Cold Temperature in Drosophila. Current Biology, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.04.038
  2. Sarah Ly, Daniel A. Lee, Ewa Strus, David A. Prober, Nirinjini Naidoo. Evolutionarily Conserved Regulation of Sleep by the Protein Translational Regulator PERK. Current Biology, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.02.030