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450Episodes
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.

March 29, 2021

Episode 424 - Hunting for atmospheres on other planets

Mars was once covered with water, so where did all the water on Mars go? What happened to the water in the Martian atmosphere? Why isn't there an abundance of heavy water in the Martian atmosphere? Water can get trapped inside rocks and minerals without volcanoes to cycle them. Volcanoes and tectonics help sequester, cycle and release water, so what happens on a planet without them? How can we hunt for signs of water atmospheres on exoplanets? On hot rocky exoplanets with oceans of magma, what happens to their hydrogen rich atmospheres?  An atmosphere of of hydrogen can slowly turn and change into water with the help of a magma ocean. 
References:

  1. E. L. Scheller, B. L. Ehlmann, Renyu Hu, D. J. Adams, Y. L. Yung. Long-term drying of Mars by sequestration of ocean-scale volumes of water in the crustScience, 2021; eabc7717 DOI: 10.1126/science.abc7717
  2. Edwin S. Kite, Laura Schaefer. Water on Hot Rocky ExoplanetsThe Astrophysical Journal Letters, 2021; 909 (2): L22 DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/abe7dc
March 22, 2021

Episode 423 - Humans vs Bacteria on earth and in space

Space is hard, things are different there which means something simple as salmonella becomes much more challenging. The rules of bacterial infection and response change once you're in space. How does your body respond to bacterial infection in microgravity environments? Getting sick in space may be worse than on earth. The human microbiome is incredible diverse and not well understood. Your gut contains 100,000s of bacteria groups, virus and other things. A large global study of gut microbiome has revealed thousands of new virus and bacteria types.

  1. Jennifer Barrila, Shameema F. Sarker, Nicole Hansmeier, Shanshan Yang, Kristina Buss, Natalia Briones, Jin Park, Richard R. Davis, Rebecca J. Forsyth, C. Mark Ott, Kevin Sato, Cristine Kosnik, Anthony Yang, Cheryl Shimoda, Nicole Rayl, Diana Ly, Aaron Landenberger, Stephanie D. Wilson, Naoko Yamazaki, Jason Steel, Camila Montano, Rolf U. Halden, Tom Cannon, Sarah L. Castro-Wallace, Cheryl A. Nickerson. Evaluating the effect of spaceflight on the host–pathogen interaction between human intestinal epithelial cells and Salmonella Typhimuriumnpj Microgravity, 2021; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41526-021-00136-w
  2. Luis F. Camarillo-Guerrero, Alexandre Almeida, Guillermo Rangel-Pineros, Robert D. Finn, Trevor D. Lawley. Massive expansion of human gut bacteriophage diversityCell, 2021; 184 (4): 1098 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.01.029
March 15, 2021

Episode 422 - Squid blending into starlight with Bio-luminescent bacteria

Squid can change colours, reflect light and blend in with their surroundings. How does the changing colours on squid skin work? What proteins and structures enable squid skin to reflect and amplify varying light? Squid can blend themselves into the starlight with the aid of bio-luminescence. The symbiotic relationship between bacteria and squid starts right after birth, and helps them shine to avoid predators and catch prey. A baby squid may not start out bioluminescent but a rapid spread of the right bacteria turns on the lights.

  1. Katherine E. Zink, Denise A. Ludvik, Phillip R. Lazzara, Terry W. Moore, Mark J. Mandel, Laura M. Sanchez. A Small Molecule Coordinates Symbiotic Behaviors in a Host OrganmBio, 2021; 12 (2) DOI: 10.1128/mBio.03637-20
  2. Daniel E. Morse, Esther Taxon. Reflectin needs its intensity amplifier: Realizing the potential of tunable structural biophotonicsApplied Physics Letters, 2020; 117 (22): 220501 DOI: 10.1063/5.0026546
March 8, 2021

Episode 421 - March Mammal Madness ‘21 and Bats tuning out the world

We find out about the outreach and impact of March Mammal Madness. What happens when 65 animals face off for bragging rights? Find out in #2021MMM . By sharing science with a dramatic flair, #2021MMM has brought attention to 1000s of scientific papers. From 1% of US High school classrooms, to a global audience of young and old, #2021MMM shows how science does not have to be boring. How do bats tune out the background noise and hunt tiny prey? Using acoustic tunnel vision, bats are able to hone in on their tiny prey. By echoing quietly, bats can detect the smallest of bugs.

  1. Hinde, K., Amorim, C. E., Brokaw, A. F., Burt, N., Casillas, M. C., Chen, A., . . . Anderson, C. N. (2021). March mammal madness and the power of narrative in science outreach. ELife, 10. doi:10.7554/elife.65066
  2. Hinde, K. (et al..). March mammal madness: How to play. Retrieved March 06, 2021, from https://libguides.asu.edu/MarchMammalMadness#s-lg-box-23314477
  3. Hinde, K, March mammal Madness 2021. Retrieved March 06, 2021, from http://mammalssuck.blogspot.com/2021/02/march-mammal-madness-2021.html
  4. Laura Stidsholt, Stefan Greif, Holger R. Goerlitz, Kristian Beedholm, Jamie Macaulay, Mark Johnson, Peter Teglberg Madsen. Hunting bats adjust their echolocation to receive weak prey echoes for clutter reduction. Science Advances, 2021; 7 (10): eabf1367 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abf1367
March 1, 2021

Episode 420 - Slime with memories, and 3d printed materials to repair damaged neurons

Slime with memories, and 3d printed materials to repair damaged neurons. How can a slime form memories? Where does it store them? What is the largest single cell organism and how does it remember things? How can you store memories in an interconnected series of tubes? How can you use 3D printed self assembling materials to help regrow damaged neurons?

  1. Mirna Kramar, Karen Alim. Encoding memory in tube diameter hierarchy of living flow networkProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (10): e2007815118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2007815118
  2. Karen Alim, Natalie Andrew, Anne Pringle, Michael P. Brenner, Mechanism of signal propagation in P. polycephalum, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences May 2017, 114 (20) 5136-5141; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1618114114
  3. Alexandra N. Edelbrock, Tristan D. Clemons, Stacey M. Chin, Joshua J. W. Roan, Eric P. Bruckner, Zaida Álvarez, Jack F. Edelbrock, Kristen S. Wek, Samuel I. Stupp. Superstructured Biomaterials Formed by Exchange Dynamics and Host–Guest Interactions in Supramolecular PolymersAdvanced Science, 2021; 2004042 DOI: 10.1002/advs.202004042