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462Episodes
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.

September 27, 2021

Episode 450 - Dating lobsters and islands under the sea

Dating lobsters can be tricky and not just because they pinch. We think lobsters can live for decades or centuries, but we can't actually track their age. Just how do you find out a creatures age without dissecting them? Tracking a creatures age is tricky when they cast away alot of signs of physical growth. How can there tightly knit families spread across huge distances in the sea that are somehow connected? How do genetic islands form inside the oceans? What can chaos, larvae and Antarctica tell us about genetic diversity?

  1. Eleanor A. Fairfield, David S. Richardson, Carly L. Daniels, Christopher L. Butler, Ewen Bell, Martin I. Taylor. Ageing European lobsters ( Homarus gammarus ) using DNA methylation of evolutionarily conserved ribosomal DNAEvolutionary Applications, 2021; DOI: 10.1111/eva.13296
  2. David L. J. Vendrami, Lloyd S. Peck, Melody S. Clark, Bjarki Eldon, Michael Meredith, Joseph I. Hoffman. Sweepstake reproductive success and collective dispersal produce chaotic genetic patchiness in a broadcast spawnerScience Advances, 2021; 7 (37) DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abj4713
September 6, 2021

Episode 447 - Defending and recovering from floods in cities and the sea floor

Extreme storms will become more common, so how can cities and the sea bed defend itself. What happens to the sea floor when there is a big storm? How long does the ecosystem on the sea floor take to recover after a large storm. What can be done to protect a coastal city from flooding in extreme weather? Knowing when to batten the hatches and protect a city in an extreme storm requires careful modelling. Venice is a beautiful city, but requires constant defense from damaging flooding and storms. Venice is protected from flooding by MOSE but is there a future where the gates are permanently closed? The complex interaction between sea level rise, Mediterranean and Adriatic seas make protecting the Venetian lagoon tricky.

  1. Piero Lionello, Robert J. Nicholls, Georg Umgiesser, Davide Zanchettin. Venice flooding and sea level: past evolution, present issues, and future projections (introduction to the special issue). Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 2021; 21 (8): 2633 DOI: 10.5194/nhess-21-2633-2021
  2. E. V. Sheehan, L. A. Holmes, B. F. R. Davies, A. Cartwright, A. Rees, M. J. Attrill. Rewilding of Protected Areas Enhances Resilience of Marine Ecosystems to Extreme Climatic Events. Frontiers in Marine Science, 2021; 8 DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2021.671427
August 23, 2021

Episode 445 - De-carbonizing Transportation and Fertilizer

Can you really power a plane with enough batteries to fly across the world? How many batteries does a ship need to circumnavigate the globe? Is there an efficient way to stop relying on diesel and dirty jet fuel? How can we turn big CO2 emitters like ships and planes into CO2 negative systems? Can aviation and transport ever be carbon neutral? How can we make fertilizer without using so much energy? The Haber Bosch process helped feed the planet, but how can we replace it to save the planet?

 

References:

  1. Travis A. Schmauss, Scott A. Barnett. Viability of Vehicles Utilizing On-Board CO2 Capture. ACS Energy Letters, 2021; 3180 DOI: 10.1021/acsenergylett.1c01426
  2. Chade Lv, Lixiang Zhong, Hengjie Liu, Zhiwei Fang, Chunshuang Yan, Mengxin Chen, Yi Kong, Carmen Lee, Daobin Liu, Shuzhou Li, Jiawei Liu, Li Song, Gang Chen, Qingyu Yan, Guihua Yu. Selective electrocatalytic synthesis of urea with nitrate and carbon dioxide. Nature Sustainability, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41893-021-00741-3
July 12, 2021

Episode 439 - The journey of humanity and its closet cousins

What separates Homo Sapiens from our closest cousins? How do we piece together the journey of Homo Sapiens across the world? Neanderthals were capable of much more than what stereotypes suggest. How did Neanderthals produce complex art? How did Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens intermix? Was there a linking population that helped spread Homo Sapiens genes into Neanderthals long before mass migration? Neanderthals are often thought of as Europe based, but was there a larger progenitor population in the Levant?

  1. Mooallem, J. (2021). The Sunday Read: ‘Neanderthals Were People, Too’. Retrieved 11 July 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/23/podcasts/the-daily/neanderthals-were-people-too.html
  2. Dirk Leder, Raphael Hermann, Matthias Hüls, Gabriele Russo, Philipp Hoelzmann, Ralf Nielbock, Utz Böhner, Jens Lehmann, Michael Meier, Antje Schwalb, Andrea Tröller-Reimer, Tim Koddenberg, Thomas Terberger. A 51,000-year-old engraved bone reveals Neanderthals’ capacity for symbolic behaviourNature Ecology & Evolution, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41559-021-01487-z
  3. Israel Hershkovitz, Hila May, Rachel Sarig, Ariel Pokhojaev, Dominique Grimaud-Hervé, Emiliano Bruner, Cinzia Fornai, Rolf Quam, Juan Luis Arsuaga, Viktoria A. Krenn, Maria Martinón-Torres, José María Bermúdez De Castro, Laura Martín-Francés, Viviane Slon, Lou Albessard-Ball, Amélie Vialet, Tim Schüler, Giorgio Manzi, Antonio Profico, Fabio Di Vincenzo, Gerhard W. Weber, Yossi Zaidner. A Middle Pleistocene Homo from Nesher Ramla, IsraelScience, 2021; 372 (6549): 1424-1428 DOI: 10.1126/science.abh3169
  4. Yossi Zaidner, Laura Centi, Marion Prévost, Norbert Mercier, Christophe Falguères, Gilles Guérin, Hélène Valladas, Maïlys Richard, Asmodée Galy, Christophe Pécheyran, Olivier Tombret, Edwige Pons-Branchu, Naomi Porat, Ruth Shahack-Gross, David E. Friesem, Reuven Yeshurun, Zohar Turgeman-Yaffe, Amos Frumkin, Gadi Herzlinger, Ravid Ekshtain, Maayan Shemer, Oz Varoner, Rachel Sarig, Hila May, Israel Hershkovitz. Middle Pleistocene Homo behavior and culture at 140,000 to 120,000 years ago and interactions with Homo sapiensScience, 2021; 372 (6549): 1429-1433 DOI: 10.1126/science.abh3020
  5. Marta Mirazón Lahr. The complex landscape of recent human evolutionScience, 2021; 372 (6549): 1395-1396 DOI: 10.1126/science.abj3077
June 28, 2021

Episode 437 - Dark Fish hiding in the ocean depths

Squeezing and grinding to create next generation materials from humble beginnings. Changing magnetic field by changing shape could open the door for more efficient computers. Magnetostriction causes that 'hum' you hear from electronics but it can be harnessed for good. Large electrical devices like transformers or fluorescent tubes shape influences their magnetic field. The next generation of computers may harness the way magnetic fields and physical shape can be linked. Forget rare earth metals, there is a more efficient way to make high powered computer chips out of humble iron and gallium. Luminescent polymers can be found in fancy OLED screens but are complex to produce. How can you make fancy luminescent polymers from generic polymers? By grinding them. A unique way of grinding and rolling basic generic polymers could create powerful luminescent polymers for use in high end screens, lasers and bioimaging.

  1. P. B. Meisenheimer, R. A. Steinhardt, S. H. Sung, L. D. Williams, S. Zhuang, M. E. Nowakowski, S. Novakov, M. M. Torunbalci, B. Prasad, C. J. Zollner, Z. Wang, N. M. Dawley, J. Schubert, A. H. Hunter, S. Manipatruni, D. E. Nikonov, I. A. Young, L. Q. Chen, J. Bokor, S. A. Bhave, R. Ramesh, J.-M. Hu, E. Kioupakis, R. Hovden, D. G. Schlom, J. T. Heron. Engineering new limits to magnetostriction through metastability in iron-gallium alloys. Nature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-22793-x
  2. Koji Kubota, Naoki Toyoshima, Daiyo Miura, Julong Jiang, Satoshi Maeda, Mingoo Jin, Hajime Ito. Introduction of a Luminophore into Generic Polymers via Mechanoradical Coupling with a Prefluorescent Reagent. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2021; DOI: 10.1002/anie.202105381
June 14, 2021

Episode 435 - Cold war secrets and reanimating frozen life

Cold war secrets buried deep in the ice and forgotten, plus reanimating frozen life from Siberia. How could some frozen dirt, forgotten in a freezer for decades help us understand a future of rising sea levels? Greenland's name was a marketing stunt by Erik the Red, but it was once truly covered in greenery. Although Greenland is so close to the North Pole, all it's thick sheets of ice have completely melted (geologically) recently. How did scientists reanimate ancient animals buried in the Siberian Tundra? Rotifers can live in some unusual places, but they can also survive being frozen and brought back to life. Ancient animals have been 'unfrozen' and brought back to life though they are very small.

  1. Lyubov Shmakova, Stas Malavin, Nataliia Iakovenko, Tatiana Vishnivetskaya, Daniel Shain, Michael Plewka, Elizaveta Rivkina. A living bdelloid rotifer from 24,000-year-old Arctic permafrost. Current Biology, 2021; 31 (11): R712 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.04.077
  2. Baqai, A., Guruswamy, V., Liu, J., & Rizki, G. (2000). Introduction to the Rotifera. Retrieved 10 June 2021, from https://ucmp.berkeley.edu/phyla/rotifera/rotifera.html
  3. Andrew J. Christ, Paul R. Bierman, Joerg M. Schaefer, Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, Jørgen P. Steffensen, Lee B. Corbett, Dorothy M. Peteet, Elizabeth K. Thomas, Eric J. Steig, Tammy M. Rittenour, Jean-Louis Tison, Pierre-Henri Blard, Nicolas Perdrial, David P. Dethier, Andrea Lini, Alan J. Hidy, Marc W. Caffee, John Southon. A multimillion-year-old record of Greenland vegetation and glacial history preserved in sediment beneath 1.4 km of ice at Camp Century. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (13): e2021442118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2021442118
May 10, 2021

Episode 430 - Using Corn to clean water, and new wind turbine designs

Clever engineering can turn waste products into planet cleaning tools. Corn is America's biggest crop, but it's incredibly wasteful. Corn waste can be given a second life as activated carbon to help clean water. Corn waste makes for an efficient water when it's turned into activated charcoal. Wind turbines have to be carefully placed and located to maximise their efficiency. When designing a wind farm, the location and style of the turbine can greatly impact generation. Which design is better for wind turbines; vertical or horizontal? Vertical wind turbines aren't as common, but they can work together to boost efficiency.

  1. Mark Gale, Tu Nguyen, Marissa Moreno, Kandis Leslie Gilliard-AbdulAziz. Physiochemical Properties of Biochar and Activated Carbon from Biomass Residue: Influence of Process Conditions to Adsorbent PropertiesACS Omega, 2021; 6 (15): 10224 DOI: 10.1021/acsomega.1c00530
  2. Joachim Toftegaard Hansen, Mahak Mahak, Iakovos Tzanakis. Numerical modelling and optimization of vertical axis wind turbine pairs: A scale up approachRenewable Energy, 2021; 171: 1371 DOI: 10.1016/j.renene.2021.03.001
May 3, 2021

Episode 429 - Volcanic ash in our oceans and rafting in the air

Volcanic eruptions are incredibly powerful but not well understood. When a volcano erupts it can spread ash far and wide both in the ocean and in the air. What happens when a volcano erupts underwater? How much energy does an underwater volcano unleash? Where does all the energy in an underwater volcanic eruption go? Is it possible for volcanic ash to form and spread underwater? Just like jetstream currents in the air, volcanic ash can be carried far and wide in underwater eruptions. Volcanic ash can get held up by smaller particles, to raft long distances.

  1. T. Dürig, J. D. L. White, A. P. Murch, B. Zimanowski, R. Büttner, D. Mele, P. Dellino, R. J. Carey, L. S. Schmidt & N. Spitznagel. Deep-sea eruptions boosted by induced fuel-coolant explosions. Nature Geoscience, June 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41561-020-0603-4
  2. Samuel S. Pegler, David J. Ferguson. Rapid heat discharge during deep-sea eruptions generates megaplumes and disperses tephra. Nature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-22439-y
  3. Eduardo Rossi, Gholamhossein Bagheri, Frances Beckett, Costanza Bonadonna. The fate of volcanic ash: premature or delayed sedimentation? Nature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-21568-8
April 12, 2021

Episode 426 - Tackling waste water and antibiotic resistance together

Hydrogen fuel promises a cleaner future, but the methods to make it are often dirty. A new approach recycles and treats waste water with sunlight to efficiently produce hydrogen. A new electrolysis approach turns waste antibiotics into hydrogen fuel cells. Removing antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals from waster water can be tricky, but a new technique turns that into green energy. Aquaculture is growing rapidly, but it is leading to antimicrobial resistance? What contributes more to antimicrobial resistance - fish farms or waste water? Incorrectly managed waster water can lead to superbugs.

 

References:

  1. Yaoyao Wu, Yuqiong Li, Hejing Hu, Guoshen Zeng, Chuanhao Li. Recovering Hydrogen Energy from Photocatalytic Treatment of Pharmaceutical-Contaminated Water Using Co3O4 Modified {001}/{101}-TiO2 NanosheetsACS ES&T Engineering, 2021; 1 (3): 603 DOI: 10.1021/acsestengg.1c00003
  2. Thunchanok Thongsamer, Rattikan Neamchan, Adrian Blackburn, Kishor Acharya, Sawannee Sutheeworapong, Bundit Tirachulee, Pavinee Pattanachan, Soydoa Vinitnantharat, Xin-Yuan Zhou, Jian-Qiang Su, Yong-Guan Zhu, David Graham, David Werner. Environmental antimicrobial resistance is associated with faecal pollution in Central Thailand’s coastal aquaculture regionJournal of Hazardous Materials, 2021; 125718 DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2021.125718
April 5, 2021

Episode 425 - Tiny creatures with a huge impact on our oceans

Can you find fresh water in the middle of the ocean? What happens when a geyser of fresh water erupts from the sea floor into the ocean? A sudden freshwater spring can radically change the ocean floor. How do plankton shells and coral help us monitor a changing climate? Life in the oceans can help sequester carbon. We can track the way the climate has changed in the past by studying strontium isotopes in seawater. Changing climates can impact life in shallow and deep water, which can lead to changes in the carbon cycle. Tiny creatures like copepods can have a huge impact on our ocean food web. How do tiny creatures like copepods gather in ephemeral ocean zephyrs. Tiny vortexs can act as a gathering place for tiny but important sea creatures.

  1. Eric Attias, Steven Constable, Dallas Sherman, Khaira Ismail, Christopher Shuler, Henrietta Dulai. Marine Electromagnetic Imaging and Volumetric Estimation of Freshwater Plumes Offshore Hawai'i. Geophysical Research Letters, 2021; 48 (7) DOI: 10.1029/2020GL091249
  2. Adina Paytan, Elizabeth M. Griffith, Anton Eisenhauer, Mathis P. Hain, Klaus Wallmann, Andrew Ridgwell. A 35-million-year record of seawater stable Sr isotopes reveals a fluctuating global carbon cycle. Science, 2021; 371 (6536): 1346 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz9266
  3. Dorsa Elmi, Donald R. Webster, David M. Fields. Response of the copepod Acartia tonsa to the hydrodynamic cues of small-scale, dissipative eddies in turbulence. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 2021; 224 (3): jeb237297 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.237297
December 7, 2020

Episode 408 - Life in deep sea soil, and blending in amongst leaves

Life underneath the sea floor at the deepest parts of the ocean. How can life survive in deep sea with no light and at incredible temperatures? Have you ever thought about life beneath the beneath the sea? How can life survive in soil hotter than boiling water? If a tree feels out of place, it's microbes on leaves tend to blend in with the crowd. What happens to the microbes on the iconic maple leaves as the trees go further north? Feel like a fish out of water, or a maple amongst conifers? Maybe its time to blend in. How can we use plant based compounds to help keep plants safe from bacterial infection?

  1. Verena B. Heuer, Fumio Inagaki, Yuki Morono, Yusuke Kubo, Arthur J. Spivack, Bernhard Viehweger, Tina Treude, Felix Beulig, Florence Schubotz, Satoshi Tonai, Stephen A. Bowden, Margaret Cramm, Susann Henkel, Takehiro Hirose, Kira Homola, Tatsuhiko Hoshino, Akira Ijiri, Hiroyuki Imachi, Nana Kamiya, Masanori Kaneko, Lorenzo Lagostina, Hayley Manners, Harry-Luke McClelland, Kyle Metcalfe, Natsumi Okutsu, Donald Pan, Maija J. Raudsepp, Justine Sauvage, Man?Yin Tsang, David T. Wang, Emily Whitaker, Yuzuru Yamamoto, Kiho Yang, Lena Maeda, Rishi R. Adhikari, Clemens Glombitza, Yohei Hamada, Jens Kallmeyer, Jenny Wendt, Lars Wörmer, Yasuhiro Yamada, Masataka Kinoshita, Kai Uwe Hinrichs. Temperature limits to deep subseafloor life in the Nankai Trough subduction zoneScience, 2020 DOI: 10.1126/science.abd7934
  2. Geneviève Lajoie, Steven W. Kembel. Host neighborhood shapes bacterial community assembly and specialization on tree species across a latitudinal gradientEcological Monographs, 2020; DOI: 10.1002/ecm.1443
  3. Hong-Wu Liu, Qing-Tian Ji, Gang-Gang Ren, Fang Wang, Fen Su, Pei-Yi Wang, Xiang Zhou, Zhi-Bing Wu, Zhong Li, Song Yang. Antibacterial Functions and Proposed Modes of Action of Novel 1,2,3,4-Tetrahydro-β-carboline Derivatives that Possess an Attractive 1,3-Diaminopropan-2-ol Pattern against Rice Bacterial Blight, Kiwifruit Bacterial Canker, and Citrus Bacterial CankerJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2020; 68 (45): 12558 DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.0c02528
November 23, 2020

Episode 406 - Lifting mountains out of the ground…with rain

Lifting mountains out of the ground with...rain? How do mountain ranges form is a surprisingly difficult question to answer. Complex equations with lots of inputs are tricky to model and solve, but can help us understand the way mountains form. Rain, cosmic particles, sand and the Himalayas can help us understand how mountains form. It's hard to picture, but mountains actually float on the molten rock of the mantle. Make them lighter and they'll rise. Do rapid climate swings change mountains, or do mountains change the climate? The answer is tricky.

  1. Brandon, M. (2005, July 01). How Erosion Builds Mountains. Retrieved November 22, 2020, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-erosion-builds-mountains-2005-07/
  2. B. A. Adams, K. X. Whipple, A. M. Forte, A. M. Heimsath and K. V. Hodges. Climate controls on erosion in tectonically active landscapes. Science Advances, 2020 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz3166
October 12, 2020

Episode 400 - Nobel Prizes, Collaboration, and more sustainable trees

The Nobel Prize's legacy on gender and diversity is poor, but are they turning it around? We celebrate the winners of the Nobel Prize, but look critically at the challenges of the system. How do you recognize the collaboration of 100s or 1000s of people with a single award? Is science advanced through singular genius or the collaboration of many? How can CRISPR help us create a more sustainable planet? Growing trees that are easier to process but still able to thrive is possible with CRISPR. How can making trees with less lignin help make a greener planet?

  1. Advanced information. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2020. Sat. 10 Oct 2020. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/2020/advanced-information
  2. Barbara De Meester, Barbara Madariaga Calderón, Lisanne de Vries, Jacob Pollier, Geert Goeminne, Jan Van Doorsselaere, Mingjie Chen, John Ralph, Ruben Vanholme, Wout Boerjan. Tailoring poplar lignin without yield penalty by combining a null and haploinsufficient CINNAMOYL-CoA REDUCTASE2 alleleNature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-18822-w
September 7, 2020

Episode 395 - Learning from unusual plants

Plants are incredibly important for a healthy planet and a well fed population. How can we improve our plants by learning from some unusual ones? You normally picture a plant with lots of leaves, but some only grow one lonely leaf. Deep in limestone caves of South East Asia grows a plant with only ever one giant leaf. How can a plant survive with just one leaf and why does it continue to grow in size? What can we learn by studying the root systems of different plants? Can breeding plants to have more flexible roots lead to more resilient crops?

  1. Ayaka Kinoshita, Hiroyuki Koga, Hirokazu Tsukaya. Expression Profiles of ANGUSTIFOLIA3 and SHOOT MERISTEMLESS, Key Genes for Meristematic Activity in a One-Leaf Plant Monophyllaea glabra, Revealed by Whole-Mount In Situ Hybridization. Frontiers in Plant Science, 2020; 11 DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2020.01160
  2. James D. Burridge, Harini Rangarajan, Jonathan P. Lynch. Comparative phenomics of annual grain legume root architecture. Crop Science, 2020; DOI: 10.1002/csc2.20241
April 20, 2020

Episode 375 - Solar Panels that work at night and on greenhouses

From solar panels on greenhouses to ones that work at night. How can you use radiant heat to make a solar panel work at night? Is there a way to harness energy from the sun even at night? Can you cover a greenhouse with solar panels without destroying your crops? What's the tipping point for harvesting solar energy for your greenhouse? Balancing the light needs of solar panels and of crops in a greenhouse. How does the photosynthesis process know which path to take? Shinning a light on the photosynthetic process.

  1. Tristan Deppe, Jeremy N. Munday. Nighttime Photovoltaic Cells: Electrical Power Generation by Optically Coupling with Deep SpaceACS Photonics, 2019; 7 (1): 1 DOI: 10.1021/acsphotonics.9b00679
  2. Eshwar Ravishankar, Ronald E. Booth, Carole Saravitz, Heike Sederoff, Harald W. Ade, Brendan T. O’Connor. Achieving Net Zero Energy Greenhouses by Integrating Semitransparent Organic Solar CellsJoule, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.joule.2019.12.018
  3. Philip D. Laible, Deborah K. Hanson, James C. Buhrmaster, Gregory A. Tira, Kaitlyn M. Faries, Dewey Holten, Christine Kirmaier. Switching sides—Reengineered primary charge separation in the bacterial photosynthetic reaction centerProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2020; 117 (2): 865 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1916119117
April 6, 2020

Episode 373 - Deep sea reefs, ocean vents and tiny life

This week we look at unlikely partnerships that help sea creatures survive and thrive. What plays a crucial role inside a reef's ecosystem that is often overlooked? What's inside fish guts that help keep a reef healthy? Just how do fish 1000s of kms away end up with the same colonies of microbes? Feel like a tasty snack but stuck in the deep ocean vents, why not methane? How do microbes help worms eat methane? 

  1. Shana Goffredi et al. Methanotrophic bacterial symbionts fuel dense populations of deep-sea feather duster worms (Sabellida, Annelida) and extend the spatial influence of methane seepageScience Advances, 2020 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay8562
  2. Jarrod J. Scott, Thomas C. Adam, Alain Duran, Deron E. Burkepile, Douglas B. Rasher. Intestinal microbes: an axis of functional diversity among large marine consumersProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2020; 287 (1924): 20192367 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2019.2367
January 20, 2020

Episode 362 - Life after a disaster from Fukashima to Chernobyl

What happens next after disaster strikes and people flee for safety? How do wildlife move in when people move out of a disaster zone? How do animals moving into an evacuated area change with no humans around? What is the most effective thing to do if you live near a disaster area? How do we assess risk and life expectancy impact of living near a disaster zone? Is it more dangerous to live near a nuclear plant or in the diesel smog of the big city?

  1. Phillip C Lyons, Kei Okuda, Matthew T Hamilton, Thomas G Hinton, James C Beasley. Rewilding of Fukushima's human evacuation zoneFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2020; DOI: 10.1002/fee.2149
  2. Philip Thomas, John May. Coping after a big nuclear accidentProcess Safety and Environmental Protection, 2017; 112: 1 DOI: 10.1016/j.psep.2017.09.013
December 23, 2019

Episode 358 - Wildfires, climate change, smog and charcoal

As the climate changes, wildfires become more common and more dangerous. Smoke clouds from wildfires can linger for weeks, but what chemistry changes inside the smog? Aerosols amongst other particles lurk inside wildfire smoke. How do we study the changes in wildfire smoke; by flying planes through the plumes. How do wildfires impact the CO2 emissions of a region?  Can wildfires help store carbon through charcoal? What can charred biomass to do help capture carbon?

  1. Kouji Adachi, Arthur J. Sedlacek, Lawrence Kleinman, Stephen R. Springston, Jian Wang, Duli Chand, John M. Hubbe, John E. Shilling, Timothy B. Onasch, Takeshi Kinase, Kohei Sakata, Yoshio Takahashi, Peter R. Buseck. Spherical tarball particles form through rapid chemical and physical changes of organic matter in biomass-burning smokeProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019; 201900129 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1900129116
  2. Matthew W. Jones, Cristina Santín, Guido R. van der Werf, Stefan H. Doerr. Global fire emissions buffered by the production of pyrogenic carbonNature Geoscience, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41561-019-0403-x
December 16, 2019

Episode 357 - Microbiology vs Macro climate challenges

Scientist are turning to microbiology to fight global climate challenges. How do you change a microbe from consumer to producer? Can you teach old e-coli new tricks, and make it consume CO2? How can a gut bacteria start to behave like a plant? Can we use enzymes to produce Hydrogen gas efficiently? What is the missing step in hydrogen fuel cell production? Can synthesised enzyme engines help us produce hydrogen without complex processes?

References:

  1.   Gleizer et al. Conversion of Escherichia coli to Generate All Biomass Carbon from CO2Cell, 2019 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.11.009
  2. The binuclear cluster of [FeFe] hydrogenase is formed with sulfur donated by cysteine of an [Fe(Cys)(CO)2(CN)] organometallic precursorProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019; 116 (42): 20850 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1913324116
     

 

December 2, 2019

Episode 355 - Satellites keeping us safe on the ground

Satellites can help save lives down on earth, by helping us better respond in disasters. When a flood, tsunami or other disaster strikes, satellites can help emergency responders get where they need to be as fast as possible. Satellites can track floods in near real time and help shave minutes of disaster response times. Finding your way in a flood or fire can be tricky, but satellites can help direct emergency responders. Satellites can help track critical infrastructure like bridges or roads as they age. When a bridge fails it can be a tragedy, but satellites can help give an early warning. When we dig big tunnels we can disturb structures and buildings, so how can we use satellites to avoid a disaster.

References:

  1. Perry C. Oddo, John D. Bolten. The Value of Near Real-Time Earth Observations for Improved Flood Disaster ResponseFrontiers in Environmental Science, 2019; 7 DOI: 10.3389/fenvs.2019.00127
  2. Pietro Milillo, Giorgia Giardina, Daniele Perissin, Giovanni Milillo, Alessandro Coletta, Carlo Terranova. Pre-Collapse Space Geodetic Observations of Critical Infrastructure: The Morandi Bridge, Genoa, ItalyRemote Sensing, 2019; 11 (12): 1403 DOI: 10.3390/rs11121403