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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.

May 20, 2019

Episode 327 - Hippos and Algae, Lions and Porcupines, plus Narwhals.

What connects Hippos, Algae and keeping the rivers of Africa healthy? What causes Lions to square-off against Porcupines? What is keeping the Narwhal population healthy despite it's genetic diversity? We look at the strange interconnection between species and how small changes in one ecosystem can destabilise a whole species.

Hippos help keep the rivers and lakes of Africa healthy...through their poo.

Hippos are essential in pumping silicon from the savannah into the rivers and lakes of Africa.

Lions hunt lots of creatures, but what needs to happen for them to try attacking a Porcupine?

Porcupines vs Lion sounds like a March Mammal Madness battle, but what causes a Lion to go after such a tough prey?

The Narwhals population is rebounding but it its still at risk due to it's shallow gene pool.

Can a species survive with a shallow gene pool?

References:

  1. Schoelynck, J., Subalusky, A.L., Struyf, E., Dutton, C.L., Unzué-Belmonte, D., Van de Vijver, B., Post, D.M., Rosi, E.J., Meire, P., Frings, P. Hippos (Hippopotamus amphibius): The animal silicon pumpScience Advances, 2019 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav0395
  2. Julian C. Kerbis Peterhans, Gastone G. Celesia, Thomas P. Gnoske. Lion-Porcupine Interactions in Africa, Including Impacts on Lion Predatory BehaviorJournal of East African Natural History, 2019; 108 (1): 1 DOI: 10.2982/028.108.0101
  3. Westbury, M.V. Narwhal genome reveals long-term low genetic diversity despite current large abundance sizeiScience, 2019 DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2019.03.023
May 13, 2019

Episode 326 - Capturing, reusing, recycling and cleaning water.

Water is essential for life, but we need to take care of the complete water cycle. Treating waste water can help remove harmful pollutants from cosmetics and medication. Industrial processes and landfill can also make super salty water, that we need to clean before releasing. Without good water management then we can end up without water in times of drought, and in times of flood more water than we can handle. This week we find out about ways to better manage the most precious of resources, water.

References:

  1. Qian Yang, Bridget R Scanlon. How much water can be captured from flood flows to store in depleted aquifers for mitigating floods and droughts? A case study from Texas, US. Environmental Research Letters, 2019; 14 (5): 054011 DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/ab148e
  2. Rui Zhao, Tingting Ma, Shuying Li, Yuyang Tian, Guangshan Zhu. Porous Aromatic Framework Modified Electrospun Fiber Membrane as a Highly Efficient and Reusable Adsorbent for Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products Removal. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2019; 11 (18): 16662 DOI: 10.1021/acsami.9b04326
  3. Chanhee Boo, Robert K. Winton, Kelly M. Conway, Ngai Yin Yip. Membrane-less and Non-evaporative Desalination of Hypersaline Brines by Temperature Swing Solvent Extraction. Environmental Science & Technology Letters, 2019; DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.9b00182
April 1, 2019

Episode 320 - Extinction events and their causes

Life has been around on earth for a long time, but there have been many extinction events that have wiped out large numbers of species. This week we find out how scientists peel back the layers of rock to uncover what caused these extinction events. Plus we find out about current extinction events and what we can learn from the past to protect species today.

References:

  1. DePalma, Robert A.; Smit, Jan; Burnham, David; Kuiper, Klaudia; Manning, Phillip; Oleinik, Anton; Larson, Peter; Maurrasse, Florentin; Vellekoop, Johan; Richards, Mark A.; Gurche, Loren; Alvarez, Walter. Prelude to Extinction: a seismically induced onshore surge deposit at the KPg boundary, North DakotaPNAS, 2019
  2. Ben C. Scheele et al. Amphibian fungal panzootic causes catastrophic and ongoing loss of biodiversityScience, 2019 DOI: 10.1126/science.aav0379
  3. Seth A. Young, Andrew Kleinberg, Jeremy D. Owens. Geochemical evidence for expansion of marine euxinia during an early Silurian (Llandovery–Wenlock boundary) mass extinctionEarth and Planetary Science Letters, 2019; 513: 187 DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2019.02.023
March 25, 2019

Episode 319 - Changing lakes and rivers in the Antarctic and Arctic. Plus carbon capture and storage

Trying to understand how the climate will change is difficult. For every big event like the break up of an ice shelf, there are thousands of little factors that play a role. Sometimes this little things turn into a torrent of a river, or a calm lake which can cause an entire continent to bend and flex. We find out about research into the Arctic Tundra and it's changing lakes which are one of the largest natural emitters of greenhouse gases. Plus ways to capture greenhouse gases and store them safely.

References:

  1. Alison F. Banwell, Ian C. Willis, Grant J. Macdonald, Becky Goodsell, Douglas R. MacAyeal. Direct measurements of ice-shelf flexure caused by surface meltwater ponding and drainageNature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-08522-5
  2. Sarah W. Cooley, Laurence C. Smith, Jonathan C. Ryan, Lincoln H. Pitcher, Tamlin M. Pavelsky. Arctic‐Boreal lake dynamics revealed using CubeSat imageryGeophysical Research Letters, 2019; DOI: 10.1029/2018GL081584
  3. Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo. (2019, February 13). Carbon gas storage cavern is the best way to obtain clean energy from a fossil fuel. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 15, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190213124358.htm
March 11, 2019

Lagrange Point Episode 317 - Hydrogen fuel cells, storage, and cleaner generation

One of the futuristic technologies always touted is Hydrogen fuel cells. So why are they not everywhere? we look at the challenges in production,storage, and use of hydrogen from cars to factories. Plus we examine if our electricity grid will be able to cope with the drastic weather condition changes from climate change in the year 2100.

References:

  1. Yinjun Xie, Peng Hu, Yehoshoa Ben-David, David Milstein. A Reversible Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier System Based on Methanol-Ethylenediamine and Ethylene UreaAngewandte Chemie International Edition, 2019; DOI: 10.1002/anie.201901695
  2. Gunther Glenk, Stefan Reichelstein. Economics of converting renewable power to hydrogenNature Energy, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41560-019-0326-1
  3. Smail Kozarcanin, Hailiang Liu, Gorm Bruun Andresen. 21st Century Climate Change Impacts on Key Properties of a Large-Scale Renewable-Based Electricity SystemJoule, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.joule.2019.02.001
February 18, 2019

Episode 314 - Ancient life and life in extreme places

From the bottom of the ocean, to the earliest days of the earth, life has managed to not just survive but thrive. We look at several cases which change our understanding of the earliest life on earth and just what that might mean for understanding life on this planet and beyond. From moving life fossilised in mud, to using isotopes to study metabolism and discovering whole new methods of getting food, life continues to astound researchers with its inventiveness.

References:

  1. Min Sub Sim, Hideaki Ogata, Wolfgang Lubitz, Jess F. Adkins, Alex L. Sessions, Victoria J. Orphan, Shawn E. McGlynn. Role of APS reductase in biogeochemical sulfur isotope fractionationNature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-07878-4
  2. Abderrazak El Albani, M. Gabriela Mangano, Luis A. Buatois, Stefan Bengtson, Armelle Riboulleau, Andrey Bekker, Kurt Konhauser, Timothy Lyons, Claire Rollion-Bard, Olabode Bankole, Stellina Gwenaelle Lekele Baghekema, Alain Meunier, Alain Trentesaux, Arnaud Mazurier, Jeremie Aubineau, Claude Laforest, Claude Fontaine, Philippe Recourt, Ernest Chi Fru, Roberto Macchiarelli, Jean Yves Reynaud, François Gauthier-Lafaye, Donald E. Canfield. Organism motility in an oxygenated shallow-marine environment 2.1 billion years agoProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019; 201815721 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1815721116
  3. Stephanie A. Carr, Sean P. Jungbluth, Emiley A. Eloe-Fadrosh, Ramunas Stepanauskas, Tanja Woyke, Michael S. Rappé, Beth N. Orcutt. Carboxydotrophy potential of uncultivated Hydrothermarchaeota from the subseafloor crustal biosphereThe ISME Journal, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41396-019-0352-9
December 24, 2018

Episode 306 - Drones as a force for good and evil

Drones being used for good, and drones being used for evil. We look at ways that drones can help biologists protect, treat, regrow marine damaged ecosystems. Including IVF transplants for the Great Barrier Reef, sea-grass disease hunting drones and even drones to detect camouflaged birds in forests. We also look into the science behind drone defense and how we can protect our critical infrastructure from rogue drones.

References:

  1. Hartley, A. (2018, November 27). This attempt to save the reef is the largest, most complicated coral regeneration project ever. Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-11-27/reef-ivf-unprecedented-new-approach-could-save-dying-coral-reefs/10557718
  2. Hegranes, J. (2018, January 26). The Past, Present And Future Of Anti-Drone Tech. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2018/01/26/the-past-present-and-future-of-anti-drone-tech/#845428852d62
  3. Minogue, K. (2018, September 17). Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. Retrieved from https://serc.si.edu/media/press-release/eelgrass-wasting-disease-has-new-enemies-drones-and-artificial-intelligence
  4. Vincent, J. (2015, December 11). Tokyo police unveil net-wielding interceptor drone. Retrieved from https://www.theverge.com/2015/12/11/9891128/tokyo-interceptor-net-drone
  5. Shewring, M. (2018, December 13). Drones can detect protected night jar nests (S. Weiss, Ed.). Retrieved from https://www.britishecologicalsociety.org/drones-nightjar-nests/
November 26, 2018

Episode 302 - Ancient empires changing the planet, leaving behind ruins and relics

This week we find out about ancient empires which have changed the face of the planet, changed the climate and left behind trophies of their conquests. From pyramid building termites in Brazil, to large climate changing colonies in Spain and even David vs Goliath battles in Florida with trophies of the dead.

  1. Stephen J. Martin, Roy R. Funch, Paul R. Hanson, Eun-Hye Yoo. A vast 4,000-year-old spatial pattern of termite mounds. Current Biology, 2018; 28 (22): R1292 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.09.061
  2. David Martín-Perea, Omid Fesharaki, M. Soledad Domingo, Sara Gamboa, Manuel Hernández Fernández. Messor barbarus ants as soil bioturbators: Implications for granulometry, mineralogical composition and fossil remains extraction in Somosaguas site (Madrid basin, Spain). CATENA, 2019; 172: 664 DOI: 10.1016/j.catena.2018.09.018
  3. Adrian A. Smith. Prey specialization and chemical mimicry between Formica archboldi and Odontomachus ants. Insectes Sociaux, 2018; DOI: 10.1007/s00040-018-0675-y
July 23, 2018

Episode 284 - Solar panels that work in the shade, using coal waste and greener concrete

Solar Panels keep getting better, but what if we could have solar power even when it's very overcast? Plus is there a way to make concrete greener and less carbon intensive? What if one of those solutions also helped take care of waste product from Coal Power Plants? We look at innovative green technologies this week in Lagrange Point. 

  1. Joshua Shank, Emil A. Kadlec, Robert L. Jarecki, Andrew Starbuck, Stephen Howell, David W. Peters, Paul S. Davids. Power Generation from a Radiative Thermal Source Using a Large-Area Infrared RectennaPhysical Review Applied, 2018; 9 (5) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevApplied.9.054040
  2. Sarvesh Kumar Srivastava, Przemyslaw Piwek, Sonal R. Ayakar, Arman Bonakdarpour, David P. Wilkinson, Vikramaditya G. Yadav. A Biogenic Photovoltaic MaterialSmall, 2018; 14 (26): 1800729 DOI: 10.1002/smll.201800729
  3. Gang Xu, Jing Zhong, Xianming Shi. Influence of graphene oxide in a chemically activated fly ashFuel, 2018; 226: 644 DOI: 10.1016/j.fuel.2018.04.033
  4. Sung Hoon Hwang, Rouzbeh Shahsavari. High calcium cementless fly ash binder with low environmental footprint: Optimum Taguchi designJournal of the American Ceramic Society, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/jace.15873
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
July 2, 2018

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

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

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

May 20, 2018

Episode 275 - Protecting biodiversity and ecosystems in flux

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

May 14, 2018

Episode 274 - Micro plastics in the rivers, oceans and soil

With Kilauea erupting, we look at the science of volcanoes and how we can keep better tabs on these rumbling giants of geology. From infra-sound monitoring, to tracking disappearing lava lakes.

References:

  1. K. J. Stephens, C. Wauthier. Satellite Geodesy Captures Offset Magma Supply Associated With Lava Lake Appearance at Masaya Volcano, Nicaragua. Geophysical Research Letters, 2018; DOI: 10.1002/2017GL076769
  2. Robin S. Matoza, David Fee, David Green, Alexis Le Pichon, Julien Vergoz, Matthew M. Haney, T. Dylan Mikesell, Luis Franco, O. Alberto Valderrama, Megan R. Kelley, Kathleen McKee, Lars Ceranna. Local, regional, and remote seismo-acoustic observations of the April 2015 VEI 4 eruption of Calbuco volcano, Chile. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 2018; DOI: 10.1002/2017JB015182
  3. Teresa Ubide, Balz S. Kamber. Volcanic crystals as time capsules of eruption history. Nature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-02274-w
March 26, 2018

Episode 267 - Water, water everywhere, make it safe to drink

Making water safe to drink is a problem for the largest cities all the way down to the most remote of communities. We look at the challenges to making water safe to drink, and some innovative new research looking to make it easier to obtain safe drinking water.

February 5, 2018

Episode 260 - A glimpse of our future from the tropical rain forests and jungles

Life in a tropical jungle or rain forest provide a window into the future, particularly for Climate Scientists. We look into the impact of a warming climate on biodiversity plus keeping the delicate balance between agricultural land and dangerous deforestation.

October 22, 2017

Episode 245 - Making diesel less harmful to our lungs, farms and planet

What damage does diesel do to our planet, cities and lungs? Is there a way we can make it cleaner that helps not only the atmosphere but also our farms? We find out what is being done across the world to clean up our diesel engines.

September 25, 2017

Episode 241 - What does climate change have in store for our oceans?

What does climate change have in store for our oceans? What happens to fish when their reefs become full of pollution? All this and more.

September 4, 2017

Episode 238 - Domesticating Grains, Evolving Crops and Vitamin A rice

The history of humanity is tied to the history of domestication. But we often overlook the rule of farming and domesticating grains which enabled huge cities to form. We find out about using modern day science to follow the journey of agriculture to today. Plus some of the future innovations we can implement such as Vitamin A rice.