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3Episodes
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.

October 22, 2018

Episode 297 - Antibiotic superweapons - hunter killer cells, dream teams and evolutionary history

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Making new treatments often starts by finding out just what building blocks you have. But what if you could use the blocks with whole new sets? What if you could see how the blocks changed between owners? What about making your own brand new blocks? When fighting bacteria, we need every tool we can get. This week we find out about some great ways to take the fight back to bacteria in new and interesting ways from artificial cells, or new combinations of treatments, even to tracking the way bacteria changes over aeons.

References:

  1. Emily J. Richardson, Rodrigo Bacigalupe, Ewan M. Harrison, Lucy A. Weinert, Samantha Lycett, Manouk Vrieling, Kirsty Robb, Paul A. Hoskisson, Matthew T. G. Holden, Edward J. Feil, Gavin K. Paterson, Steven Y. C. Tong, Adebayo Shittu, Willem van Wamel, David M. Aanensen, Julian Parkhill, Sharon J. Peacock, Jukka Corander, Mark Holmes, J. Ross Fitzgerald. Gene exchange drives the ecological success of a multi-host bacterial pathogen. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2018; 2 (9): 1468 DOI: 10.1038/s41559-018-0617-0
  2. Elif Tekin, Cynthia White, Tina Manzhu Kang, Nina Singh, Mauricio Cruz-Loya, Robert Damoiseaux, Van M. Savage, Pamela J. Yeh. Prevalence and patterns of higher-order drug interactions in Escherichia coli. npj Systems Biology and Applications, 2018; 4 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41540-018-0069-9
  3. Yunfeng Ding, Luis E. Contreras-Llano, Eliza Morris, Michelle Mao, Cheemeng Tan. Minimizing Context Dependency of Gene Networks Using Artificial Cells. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2018; DOI: 10.1021/acsami.8b10029
October 15, 2018

Lagrange Point Episode 296 - Fighting back against hayfever, what histamines do for you, stopping travellers sickness

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A change of seasons means you may be sniffling, sneezing and having teary eyes. So why do our bodies sometimes cause such an over the top response to pollen? We dive into the science behind hay fever, what histamine even does for you, and how it's helping you in more ways than you realise. Plus we find out what's being done to deliver a 1,2,3 blow to Traveller's Diarrhoea.

References:

  1. Alessandra Misto, Gustavo Provensi, Valentina Vozella, Maria Beatrice Passani, Daniele Piomelli. Mast Cell-Derived Histamine Regulates Liver Ketogenesis via Oleoylethanolamide Signaling. Cell Metabolism, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2018.09.014
  2. Caroline B.K. Mathiesen, Michael C. Carlsson, Stephanie Brand, Svenning Rune Möller, Manja Idorn, Per thor Straten, Anders E. Pedersen, Sally Dabelsteen, Adnan Halim, Peter Adler Würtzen, Jens Brimnes, Henrik Ipsen, Bent L. Petersen, Hans H. Wandall. Genetically engineered cell factories produce glycoengineered vaccines that target antigen-presenting cells and reduce antigen-specific T-cell reactivity. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2018.07.030
  3. Renee M. Laird, Zuchao Ma, Nelum Dorabawila, Brittany Pequegnat, Eman Omari, Yang Liu, Alexander C. Maue, Steven T. Poole, Milton Maciel, Kavyashree Satish, Christina L. Gariepy, Nina M. Schumack, Annette L. McVeigh, Frédéric Poly, Cheryl P. Ewing, Michael G. Prouty, Mario A. Monteiro, Stephen J. Savarino, Patricia Guerry. Evaluation of a conjugate vaccine platform against enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC), Campylobacter jejuni and Shigella. Vaccine, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.09.052

 

October 1, 2018

Episode 294 - What is the biggest bird; Island Giants and dwarfs.

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What is the biggest bird? Why do some species in some locations end up becoming giants? What makes islands like Madagascar so special and why are so many of the species once found there so very large in size? This week we look at island gigantism and island dwarfism across the world with a focus on the giant Elephant birds of Madagascar.

References:

  1. James P. Hansford, Samuel T. Turvey. Unexpected diversity within the extinct elephant birds (Aves: Aepyornithidae) and a new identity for the world's largest birdRoyal Society Open Science, 2018; 5 (9): 181295 DOI: 10.1098/rsos.181295
  2. James Hansford, Patricia C. Wright, Armand Rasoamiaramanana, Ventura R. Pérez, Laurie R. Godfrey, David Errickson, Tim Thompson, Samuel T. Turvey. Early Holocene human presence in Madagascar evidenced by exploitation of avian megafaunaScience Advances, 2018; 4 (9): eaat6925 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat6925
September 17, 2018

Episode 292 - Roller coasters for medical treatment - Ignobel Prize 2018 Part 1

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It's Ignobel Prize 2018 time. As part of Improbable Research's celebration of curious and comedic science, we find out the rollercoasters, and how they are just what the doctor ordered. The Ignobel Prize 2018 in Medicine went to Mitchel and Wartinger for their ground breaking work into how to use rollercoasters to treat Kidney stones. We look into how rollercoasters work, their impact on the body, and how it can help pass kidney stones. Plus we look at some research into how rollercoaster g-force can impact your brain. 

 

References:

  1. Marc A. Mitchell, David D. Wartinger. Validation of a Functional Pyelocalyceal Renal Model for the Evaluation of Renal Calculi Passage While Riding a Roller Coaster. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 2016; 116 (10): 647 DOI: 10.7556/jaoa.2016.128
  2. ROLLER COASTER PHYSICS & G FORCES - COASTERFORCE. (2018). Retrieved from http://coasterforce.com/physics/
  3. DeHart, Roy L. (2002). Fundamentals of Aerospace Medicine: 3rd Edition. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  4. "NASA Physiological Acceleration Systems". Web.archive.org. 2008-05-20. Archived from the original on 2008-05-20. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
  5. NASA Technical note D-337, Centrifuge Study of Pilot Tolerance to Acceleration and the Effects of Acceleration on Pilot Performance, by Brent Y. Creer, Captain Harald A. Smedal, USN (MC), and Rodney C. Vtlfngrove, figure 10
  6. NASA Technical note D-337, Centrifuge Study of Pilot Tolerance to Acceleration and the Effects of Acceleration on Pilot Performance, by Brent Y. Creer, Captain Harald A. Smedal, USN (MC), and Rodney C. Vtlfngrove
  7. Kuo, Calvin & Wu, Lyndia & P Ye, Patrick & Laksari, Kaveh & Benjamin Camarillo, David & Kuhl, Ellen. (2017). Pilot Findings of Brain Displacements and Deformations During Roller Coaster Rides. Journal of neurotrauma. 34. 10.1089/neu.2016.4893.
September 10, 2018

Episode 291 - Concussion science, assessment frameworks and biomarkers

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Concussions are a serious issue for everyone from the largest professional leagues to the weekend amateurs. The CDC has released some updated guidelines for assessing concussions and we dive into some new tests to help take the decision out of players hands and back it up with some sound evidence. 

  1. Angela Lumba-Brown, David W. Wright, Kelly Sarmiento, Debra Houry. Emergency Department Implementation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Pediatric Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Guideline RecommendationsAnnals of Emergency Medicine, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2018.03.045
  2. Johnson VE, Stewart W, Smith DH. Axonal pathology in traumatic brain injury. Experimental Neurology. 246: 35-43 (2013).
  3. Ling H, Hardy, J, Zetterberg H. Neurological consequences of traumatic brain injuries in sports. Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience. 66(B): 114-122 (2015).
  4. Alexander M. Weber, Anna Pukropski, Christian Kames, Michael Jarrett, Shiroy Dadachanji, Jack Taunton, David K. B. Li, Alexander Rauscher. Pathological Insights From Quantitative Susceptibility Mapping and Diffusion Tensor Imaging in Ice Hockey Players Pre and Post-concussionFrontiers in Neurology, 2018; 9 DOI: 10.3389/fneur.2018.00575
  5. Pashtun Shahim, Yelverton Tegner, Niklas Marklund, Kaj Blennow, Henrik Zetterberg. Neurofilament light and tau as blood biomarkers for sports-related concussionNeurology, 2018; 10.1212/WNL.0000000000005518 DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000005518
August 27, 2018

Episode 289 - Unlikely alliances, from ancient virus and Koalas to farming fruit flies and coral alliances

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How do you defend against invaders in a millenia long war? Well Koala DNA is currently using some ancient DNA weapons to fight back against a viral invader. We also find out about some unlikely alliances from different corals teaming up, to how bacteria manages to spread and colonize from place to place. All this and more this week on Lagrange Point. 

References:

  1. Ulrike Löber, Matthew Hobbs, Anisha Dayaram, Kyriakos Tsangaras, Kiersten Jones, David E. Alquezar-Planas, Yasuko Ishida, Joanne Meers, Jens Mayer, Claudia Quedenau, Wei Chen, Rebecca N. Johnson, Peter Timms, Paul R. Young, Alfred L. Roca, Alex D. Greenwood. Degradation and remobilization of endogenous retroviruses by recombination during the earliest stages of a germ-line invasion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018; 201807598 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1807598115
  2. Inês S. Pais, Rita S. Valente, Marta Sporniak, Luis Teixeira. Drosophila melanogaster establishes a species-specific mutualistic interaction with stable gut-colonizing bacteria. PLOS Biology, 2018; 16 (7): e2005710 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2005710
  3. Luigi Musco, Tomás Vega Fernández, Erik Caroselli, John Murray Roberts, Fabio Badalamenti. Protocooperation among small polyps allows the coral Astroides calycularis to prey on large jellyfish. Ecology, 2018; DOI: 10.1002/ecy.2413
August 20, 2018

Episode 288 - Tackling Fatbergs, Recycling Li-On_batteries and new uses for cooking oil

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Keeping the world clean is a tricky job. You have to fight fatbergs, recycle large amounts of mess and even keep tanks of food clean. Fortunately material scientists keep inventing new methods, and re-applying old ones to help improve our planet. From using old mining techniques to recycle lithium ion batteries, to using oils to keep food equipment clean, plus tacking the monsters of the sewer - fatbergs.

 

REFERENCES

  1. Ruiting Zhan, Zachary Oldenburg, Lei Pan. Recovery of active cathode materials from lithium-ion batteries using froth flotation. Sustainable Materials and Technologies, 2018; 17: e00062 DOI: 10.1016/j.susmat.2018.e00062
  2. Tarek S. Awad, Dalal Asker, Benjamin D. Hatton. Food-Safe Modification of Stainless Steel Food-Processing Surfaces to Reduce Bacterial Biofilms. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2018; 10 (27): 22902 DOI: 10.1021/acsami.8b03788
  3. Asha Srinivasan, Moutoshi Saha, Kit Caufield, Otman Abida, Ping Huang Liao, Kwang Victor Lo. Microwave-Enhanced Advanced Oxidation Treatment of Lipids and Food Wastes. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, 2018; 229 (7) DOI: 10.1007/s11270-018-3894-y
August 13, 2018

Episode 287 - Fighting back against fungal infections

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Everyone knows about bacteria and viruses, but fungal infections can also wreak havoc with our health. Since we know so little about them, fighting back is difficult. But we can learn a lot but diving deep into the way fungal infections are structured, how they fight back and how they fight eachother. 

  1. Xue Kang, Alex Kirui, Artur Muszyński, Malitha C. Dickwella Widanage, Adrian Chen, Parastoo Azadi, Ping Wang, Frederic Mentink-Vigier, Tuo Wang. Molecular architecture of fungal cell walls revealed by solid-state NMRNature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-05199-0
  2. Timothy M. Tucey, Jiyoti Verma, Paul F. Harrison, Sarah L. Snelgrove, Tricia L. Lo, Allison K. Scherer, Adele A. Barugahare, David R. Powell, Robert T. Wheeler, Michael J. Hickey, Traude H. Beilharz, Thomas Naderer, Ana Traven. Glucose Homeostasis Is Important for Immune Cell Viability during Candida Challenge and Host Survival of Systemic Fungal InfectionCell Metabolism, 2018; 27 (5): 988 DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2018.03.019
  3. University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2018, May 22). A hidden world of communication, chemical warfare, beneath the soil. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 21, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180522082202.htm
July 16, 2018

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

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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
July 9, 2018

Episode 282 - More precise precision medicine plus last chance medications

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How far would you go to find a treatment that helps you or a loved one suffering from a chronic condition? Is it worth the side effects or the pain of jumping through bureaucratic hoops? Is it worth risking the black market? Plus we find out ways to make precision medicine even more precise to rule out side effects. 

References:

  1. Bell, F. (2017, March 01). Sick kids chosen as first patients to receive legal medicinal cannabis in Victoria. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-01/children-with-epilepsy-receive-legal-medicinal-cannabis-victoria/8313902
  2. Dunstan, J. (2018, June 08). Dad defends medicinal cannabis program as kids drop out. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-08/victorian-medicinal-cannabis-trial-kids-drop-out/9848596
  3. Medical Marijuana and Epilepsy. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/treating-seizures-and-epilepsy/other-treatment-approaches/medical-marijuana-and-epilepsy
  4. Understanding Epilepsy. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.epilepsy.org.au/about-epilepsy/understanding-epilepsy/
  5. Zafar, A. (2017, May 26). Cannabis compound shown to slash seizures in kids with rare form of epilepsy | CBC News. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/dravet-syndrome-epilepsy-cbd-1.4130180
  6. A. Suraev, N. Lintzeris, J. Stuart, R. C. Kevin, R. Blackburn, E. Richards, J. C. Arnold, C. Ireland, L. Todd, D. J. Allsop, I. S. McGregor. Composition and Use of Cannabis Extracts for Childhood Epilepsy in the Australian CommunityScientific Reports, 2018; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-28127-0
  7. Lei Zhang, Peng Zhang, Guangfu Wang, Huaye Zhang, Yajun Zhang, Yilin Yu, Mingxu Zhang, Jian Xiao, Piero Crespo, Johannes W. Hell, Li Lin, Richard L. Huganir, J. Julius Zhu. Ras and Rap Signal Bidirectional Synaptic Plasticity via Distinct Subcellular MicrodomainsNeuron, 2018; 98 (4): 783 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.03.049
July 2, 2018

Episode 281 - Interconnections between animals, ocean currents, climates and ecosystems

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This week we look into three stories about how oceans tie our planet together. Our ecosystems are often linked in unusual ways that are not immediately obvious. Ocean currents can tie ecosystems across the world together, impacting migratory species, local environments and ecosystems. Sometimes these impacts are short term, other times they play out over years, decades and centuries. 

References:

  1. Carl J. Reddin, Ádám T. Kocsis, Wolfgang Kiessling. Marine invertebrate migrations trace climate change over 450 million yearsGlobal Ecology and Biogeography, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/geb.12732
  2. Hector M. Guzman, Catalina G. Gomez, Alex Hearn, Scott A. Eckert. Longest recorded trans-Pacific migration of a whale shark (Rhincodon typus)Marine Biodiversity Records, 2018; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s41200-018-0143-4
  3. Jocelyn Champagnon, Jean-Dominique Lebreton, Hugh Drummond, David J. Anderson. Pacific Decadal and El Niño oscillations shape survival of a seabirdEcology, 2018; 99 (5): 1063 DOI: 10.1002/ecy.2179
June 18, 2018

Episode 279 - Helping farmers fight back against climate change

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How can we feed the planet? What can we do to improve our crop yields particularly for the staples like rice and corn? How can NASA help farmers deal with a changing climate? 

References:

  1. Cacious Stanford Nyakurwa, Edmore Gasura, Peter S. Setimela, Stanford Mabasa, Joyful Tatenda Rugare, Simbarashe Mutsvanga. Reaction of New Quality Protein Maize Genotypes toCrop Science, 2018; 58 (3): 1201 DOI: 10.2135/cropsci2017.10.0639
  2. Eduardo Anibele Streck, Ariano Martins de Magalhaes, Gabriel Almeida Aguiar, Paulo Karling Henrique Facchinello, Paulo Ricardo Reis Fagundes, Daniel Fernandes Franco, Maicon Nardino, Antônio Costa de Oliveira. Genetic Progress in 45 Years of Irrigated Rice Breeding in Southern BrazilCrop Science, 2018; 58 (3): 1094 DOI: 10.2135/cropsci2017.06.0383
  3. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2018, June 1). NASA soil moisture data advances global crop forecasts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 15, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180601134729.htm
June 18, 2018

Episode 279 - Helping farmers fight back against climate change

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June 4, 2018

Episode 277 - Breaking down the brain and figuring out how the pieces work

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Our brains are incredibly complex machines, running millions of calculations in no time at all. But how do these fantastic circuits work? If you follow AI and computer science you may have heard of a ''neural net'' style program which mimics how the brain learns, but really, how do the messages get passed between neurons along such networks? Does shape matter? Can we study individual pathways? What happens if you try and pulse the brain to give it a boost? We find out about neurons, their networks and more.

 

References:

  1. Shotaro Yoshida, Midori Kato-Negishi, Shoji Takeuchi. Assembly and Connection of Micropatterned Single Neurons for Neuronal Network FormationMicromachines, 2018; 9 (5): 235 DOI: 10.3390/mi9050235
  2. Fong Kuan Wong, Kinga Bercsenyi, Varun Sreenivasan, Adrián Portalés, Marian Fernández-Otero, Oscar Marín. Pyramidal cell regulation of interneuron survival sculpts cortical networksNature, 2018; 557 (7707): 668 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0139-6
  3. Nicole C Swann, Coralie de Hemptinne, Margaret C Thompson, Svjetlana Miocinovic, Andrew M Miller, Ro’ee Gilron, Jill L Ostrem, Howard J Chizeck, Philip A Starr. Adaptive deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease using motor cortex sensingJournal of Neural Engineering, 2018; 15 (4): 046006 DOI: 10.1088/1741-2552/aabc9b
May 20, 2018

Episode 275 - Protecting biodiversity and ecosystems in flux

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Protecting biodiversity is important, but how well have we protected our critical zones over the past 25 years? Are predators invading human spaces or are they just reclaiming their old territory? What about places where the predator / prey balance is out of whack? We dive into biodiverse ecosystems across the world. 

References:

  1. Kendall R. Jones, Oscar Venter, Richard A. Fuller, James R. Allan, Sean L. Maxwell, Pablo Jose Negret, James E. M. Watson. One-third of global protected land is under intense human pressure. Science, 2018; 360 (6390): 788 DOI: 10.1126/science.aap9565

  2. Brian R. Silliman, Brent B. Hughes, Lindsay C. Gaskins, Qiang He, M. Tim Tinker, Andrew Read, James Nifong and Rick Stepp. Are the Ghosts of Nature's Past Haunting Ecology Today? Current Biology, 2018 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.002

  3. Michigan Technological University. (2018, May 17). After 60 years, Isle Royale continues world's longest predator-prey study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 19, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180517102304.htm

April 30, 2018

Episode 272 - Better Zika virus treatments and making it work for us

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We check in on the latest research into the Zika Virus. How have our efforts to detect and treat this virus progressed since the outbreak of 2015/16? Are there new and novel ways of tackling Zika (and other mosquito born viruses) and can we make the Zika Virus work for us rather than against us?

March 19, 2018

Episode 266 - Strange ways of fighting antibacterial resistance from platypus milk to cooking an egg

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This week we find out some strange and new ways scientists are hunting for a new weapons in the antimicrobial resistance arms race. Including turning to platypus milk for guidance, cooking the insides of bacteria like an egg and blocking it from even spreading. Plus we get an update on Mammal March Madness.

January 22, 2018

Episode 258 - Australian biomedical science from labs on a chip to stopping biofilms

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We find out about some amazing Australian biotechnology inventions from an efficient lab-on-a-chip, to boosting our immune systems and stopping bio-films in their tracks.

January 15, 2018

Episode 257 - Tracking creatures from the deep with social media and NASA

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Mysterious creatures roam the depths of the ocean, from turtles to whale sharks. Studying their journeys shed light on the way our oceans are interlinked and the impact of climate change on the whole ecosystem.

January 8, 2018

Episode 256 - Learning from primates about human culture

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Forget gorilla channel, Bonobos are a better mirror to human behaviour. We check out some interesting studies which reveal some of human kinds unique traits in behaviour compared to our closet primate cousins.