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Category: Science & Medicine

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 12, 2018

Episode 300 - Once in a blue asteroid, hidden objects in the Lagrange Point


In our 300th episode we return to our roots, the Lagrange Point. We find out about some odd objects hanging out at Earth's Lagrange Point, and how satellites can survive fierce solar storms only to be undone by a stiff breeze. Plus something rarer than a blue moon, a blue asteroid!

  1. Judit Slíz-Balogh, András Barta, Gábor Horváth. Celestial mechanics and polarization optics of the Kordylewski dust cloud in the Earth–Moon Lagrange point L5 – Part II. Imaging polarimetric observation: new evidence for the existence of Kordylewski dust cloudMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2019; 482 (1): 762 DOI: 10.1093/mnras/sty2630
  2. Richard B. Horne, Mark W. Phillips, Sarah A. Glauert, Nigel P. Meredith, Alex D. P. Hands, Keith A. Ryden, Wen Li. Realistic Worst Case for a Severe Space Weather Event Driven by a Fast Solar Wind Stream. Space Weather, 2018; DOI: 10.1029/2018SW001948
  3. University of Arizona. (2018, October 29). Rare blue asteroid reveals itself during fly-by. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 9, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181029152849.htm
September 3, 2018

Episode 290 - The strange chemistry of exoplanets from their cores to atmospheres


Exoplanets are home to some extremely out of this world chemistry. From raining diamonds, to gaseous iron and titanium, even to secret supplies of water. If we want to understand just how unique our place in the universe is, we can try and replicate the odd conditions of exoplanets right here on earth. 



  1. Peter M. Celliers et al. Insulator-metal transition in dense fluid deuteriumScience, 2018 DOI: 10.1126/science.aat0970
  2. Sergey S. Lobanov, Qiang Zhu, Nicholas Holtgrewe, Clemens Prescher, Vitali B. Prakapenka, Artem R. Oganov, Alexander F. Goncharov. Stable magnesium peroxide at high pressureScientific Reports, 2015; 5: 13582 DOI: 10.1038/srep13582
  3. H. Jens Hoeijmakers, David Ehrenreich, Kevin Heng, Daniel Kitzmann, Simon L. Grimm, Romain Allart, Russell Deitrick, Aurélien Wyttenbach, Maria Oreshenko, Lorenzo Pino, Paul B. Rimmer, Emilio Molinari, Luca Di Fabrizio. Atomic iron and titanium in the atmosphere of the exoplanet KELT-9bNature, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0401-y
  4. Goldschmidt Conference. (2018, August 18). Water-worlds are common: Exoplanets may contain vast amounts of water. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 18, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180818115758.htm
July 30, 2018

Episode 285 - Icey lakes on Mars, a planets worth of dust and unexplained oxygen


We are often tantalized by the prospect of water on Mars, but thanks to a Teenage Satellite we have found lakes of water on Mars, just beneath the surface. Plus we find out where all that martian dust comes from and check in on everyone's favourite Comet, 67-p.

  1. R. Orosei, S. E. Lauro, E. Pettinelli, A. Cicchetti, M. Coradini, B. Cosciotti, F. Di Paolo, E. Flamini, E. Mattei, M. Pajola, F. Soldovieri, M. Cartacci, F. Cassenti, A. Frigeri, S. Giuppi, R. Martufi, A. Masdea, G. Mitri, C. Nenna, R. Noschese, M. Restano, R. Seu. Radar evidence of subglacial liquid water on Mars. Science, 2018; eaar7268 DOI: 10.1126/science.aar7268
  2. Horner, J. (2018, July 26). Discovered: A huge liquid water lake beneath the southern pole of Mars. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/discovered-a-huge-liquid-water-lake-beneath-the-southern-pole-of-mars-100523
  3. Lujendra Ojha, Kevin Lewis, Suniti Karunatillake, Mariek Schmidt. The Medusae Fossae Formation as the single largest source of dust on Mars. Nature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-05291-5
  4. K. L. Heritier, K. Altwegg, J.-J. Berthelier, A. Beth, C. M. Carr, J. De Keyser, A. I. Eriksson, S. A. Fuselier, M. Galand, T. I. Gombosi, P. Henri, F. L. Johansson, H. Nilsson, M. Rubin, C. Simon Wedlund, M. G. G. T. Taylor, E Vigren. On the origin of molecular oxygen in cometary comae. Nature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04972-5
July 16, 2018

Episode 283 - Dust storms carrying life, harming life and engulfing a planet


Dust storms can be hazardous, especially when they engulf an entire planet like on Mars. They can also carry pollution across national borders and contaminate wide areas. But Dust Storms may also hold the secret for how life can spread across vast deserts. This week we look at dust storms of this world and out of this world. 

  1. Authors: J. A. Rivas Jr., J. E. Mohl, R. S. Van Pelt, M.‐Y. Leung, R. L. Wallace, T. E. Gill, E. J. Walsh. Evidence for regional aeolian transport of freshwater micrometazoans in arid regionsLimnology and Oceanography Letters, 2018; DOI: 10.1002/lol2.10072
  2. Tuyet Nam Thi Nguyen, Kuen-Sik Jung, Ji Min Son, Hye-Ok Kwon, Sung-Deuk Choi. Seasonal variation, phase distribution, and source identification of atmospheric polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons at a semi-rural site in Ulsan, South KoreaEnvironmental Pollution, 2018; 236: 529 DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2018.01.080
  3. Penn State. (2018, June 28). Mars dust storm may lead to new weather discoveries. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 14, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180628124412.htm
  4. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2018, June 20). Martian dust storm grows global: Curiosity captures photos of thickening haze. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 13, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180620170956.htm
June 25, 2018

Episode 280 - Nanodiamonds, Stardust, Comets and erasing Stars


Astronomy can be quite beautiful at times. From nano-diamonds giving the galaxy a shimmering glow, to stardust leftover from the creation of the solar system hitching a ride on a coment. We also find out about new ways to hunt for exoplanets by erasing stars with filters.

  1. Hope A. Ishii, John P. Bradley, Hans A. Bechtel, Donald E. Brownlee, Karen C. Bustillo, James Ciston, Jeffrey N. Cuzzi, Christine Floss, David J. Joswiak. Multiple generations of grain aggregation in different environments preceded solar system body formation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018; 201720167 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1720167115
  2. J. S. Greaves, A. M. M. Scaife, D. T. Frayer, D. A. Green, B. S. Mason, A. M. S. Smith. Anomalous microwave emission from spinning nanodiamonds around stars. Nature Astronomy, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-018-0495-z
  3. H.J. Hoeijmakers, H. Schwarz, I.A.G. Snellen, R.J. de Kok, M. Bonnefoy, G. Chauvin, A.M. Lagrange, J.H. Girard. Medium-resolution integral-field spectroscopy for high-contrast exoplanet imaging: Molecule maps of the beta Pictoris system with SINFONI. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2018; DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201832902
  4. Image Credit: S. Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF
May 27, 2018

Episode 276 - Hunting for gamma rays


Gamma rays are a mainstay of science fiction, but hunting for these elusive events is a lot easier with the right tools. We find out about two ingenious ways to hunt for gamma rays including flying into a cyclone, using satellites and even a telescope the size of New York.


  1. G. S. Bowers, D. M. Smith, N. A. Kelley, G. F. Martinez-McKinney, S. A. Cummer, J. R. Dwyer, S. Heckman, R. H. Holzworth, F. Marks, P. Reasor, J. Gamache, J. Dunion, T. Richards, H. K. Rassoul. A Terrestrial Gamma-Ray Flash inside the Eyewall of Hurricane Patricia. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 2018; DOI: 10.1029/2017JD027771
  2. R. U. Abbasi, T. Abu-Zayyad, E. Barcikowski, J. W. Belz, D. R. Bergman, S. A. Blake, M. Byrne, et al. Gamma-ray Showers Observed at Ground Level in Coincidence With Downward Lightning Leaders. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 2018; DOI: 10.1029/2017JD027931
April 2, 2018

Episode 268 - Farewell Tiangong 1, space stations and managing space debris


We say farewell to Tiangong-1 ("Heavenly place 1"), China's first foray into space stations as it comes crashing to earth and we look forward into the future for space station development. We also find out how scientists across the world plan to tackle the problem of space junk and keep space safe for years to come

March 5, 2018

Episode 264 - Peering back in time to light from the first stars


How do you peer back in time to see the light from the first stars? Well the EDGES team did just that and may have unlocked not one but two different secrets to the early universe.

February 12, 2018

Episode 261 - Stopping unwanted Life on Mars


How do we protect find and protect life across the universe from ourselves? What are the risks and dangers of sending bacteria out into the universe, and how can we prevent unwanted contamination.

January 29, 2018

Episode 259 - Quantum Computing - Australian of the Year - Prof Michelle Simmons


We celebrate the Australian of Year for 2017, Professor Michelle Yvonne Simmons, by examining the groundbreaking work in Quantum Computing that she has pioneered across Australia. This includes a deep dive into how Quantum Computing works, what it can help with and what makes the Australia approach, led by Prof. Simmons, so special. ​ ​

December 24, 2017

Episode 254 - Heavy metal stars and interstellar forges


Heavy metal stars often go out in spectacular blaze of glory, where as other more mellow blackholes will just forge even more rare material. We check in on some interstellar antics that help produce the most unusual metal.

November 27, 2017

Episode 250 - Mysterious objects from inside and outside the solar system


Mysterious objects from inside and outside the solar system from an interstellar interloper to a fiery crash landing in the Australian outback.

October 9, 2017

Episode 243 - Missed Nobel Prizes 2017


We celebrate the winners of this years Nobel Prizes, but we also ask important questions like - just how representative are the Nobel Prizes? Do people miss out? How do the Nobel Prizes measure up in equality and gender balance compared to other major prizes?

September 11, 2017

Episode 239 - Farewell to Cassini and Noisy storms in Space


After 20 years we say farewell to Cassini and catalog all it's hard work peering into the workings of Saturn's moons, rings and atmosphere. We also find out about some noisy storms living in our Van Allen Belts.