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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 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
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 21, 2021

Episode 436 - Squeezing and grinding to create next generation materials from humble begingings

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 bio-imaging.

  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 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 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
February 22, 2021

Episode 419 - Testing life on Mars here on Earth

Perseverance has landed and begun it's long mission, but how can scientists on Earth help research on Mars? Can we study life on Mars here on Earth? Robotic missions aren't the only way Martian rock has made it's way to Earth. Rare meteorites from Mars can be used to test how life would grow in Martian soil. Just how old is the Jezero crater? Can you date a crater without doing detailed tests? How does measuring lunar craters help us put a date on the age of Martian craters like Jezero?

  1. T. Milojevic, M. Albu, D. Kölbl, G. Kothleitner, R. Bruner, M. Morgan. Chemolithotrophy on the Noachian Martian breccia NWA 7034 via experimental microbial biotransformationCommunications Earth & Environment, 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s43247-021-00105-x
  2. Cassata, W. S., Cohen, B. E., Mark, D. F., Trappitsch, R., Crow, C. A., Wimpenny, J., . . . Smith, C. L. (2018). Chronology of martian breccia nwa 7034 and the formation of the martian crustal dichotomyScience Advances, 4(5). doi:10.1126/sciadv.aap8306
  3. Simone Marchi. A new martian crater chronology: Implications for Jezero craterThe Astronomical Journal, 2021 [abstract]
December 21, 2020

Episode 410 - Mysterious Volcanoes, Plates and Subduction

Just how old are continental plates? When did plates sliding around and over each other really take off? What can rocks in the Canadian tundra tell us about the ages of the continents? The formation of continents led to a transformation of our planet and it's atmosphere - so when did it start? How can Australia have so many volcanoes on it's east coast despite being so far from the Pacific ring of fire? What causes Australia's mysterious volcanoes? Volcanoes in Alaska may be linked together in one super volcano. The Aleutian islands many volcanoes may be more linked than we thought.


  1. Sarah M. Aarons, Jesse R. Reimink, Nicolas D. Greber, Andy W. Heard, Zhe Zhang, Nicolas Dauphas. Titanium isotopes constrain a magmatic transition at the Hadean-Archean boundary in the Acasta Gneiss ComplexScience Advances, 2020; 6 (50): eabc9959 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc9959
  2. American Geophysical Union. (2020, December 3). Cluster of Alaskan islands could be single, interconnected giant volcano. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/12/201203094531.htm
December 14, 2020

Episode 409 - Stellar Weather, Life on other planets and Space Dust

What is the space around the sun like? Cold? Hot? Dusty? How does the space around the Sun change over time? Does the Sun suck up dust in the solar system, or blow it out? What can we learn about stellar weather in our neighbouring stars. Red Dwarfs are one of the most common stars in our Galaxy, but also produce lots of flares. Are rocky planets in Red Dwarf's habitable zone safe from stellar weather?

  1. Andrew Zic, Tara Murphy, Christene Lynch, George Heald, Emil Lenc, David L. Kaplan, Iver H. Cairns, David Coward, Bruce Gendre, Helen Johnston, Meredith MacGregor, Danny C. Price, Michael S. Wheatland. A Flare-type IV Burst Event from Proxima Centauri and Implications for Space WeatherThe Astrophysical Journal, 2020; 905 (1): 23 DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/abca90
  2. University of Colorado at Boulder. (2020, December 10). A look at the sun's dusty environment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 10, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/12/201210112131.htm
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
November 16, 2020

Episode 405 - Studying Supernova, pollution and air quality with trees

Studying supernova and air quality with the help of trees. Supernova are some of the most devastating events in the universe, but what is their connection to trees? By studying tree rings we can help piece together the final days of stars. Supernova can cause large spikes in radiation that can be detected in tree rings. Trees do a lot for us but they can also help us track air quality simply and cheaply. Magnets and pine needles can helps us understand air quality. Air quality monitoring can be a matter of running a magnet over some leaves.


  1. G. Robert Brakenridge. Solar system exposure to supernova γ radiationInternational Journal of Astrobiology, 2020; 1 DOI: 10.1017/S1473550420000348
  2. Grant Rea‐Downing, Brendon J. Quirk, Courtney L. Wagner, Peter C. Lippert. Evergreen needle magnetization as a proxy for particulate matter pollution in urban environmentsGeoHealth, 2020; DOI: 10.1029/2020GH000286
May 25, 2020

Episode 380 - New comets, touching an asteroid and the moon

New comets, touching down on an asteroid and fake diamonds on the moon. Small objects in our solar system can teach us about the early days of Earth. What happened on the moon 4.5 billion years ago to form cubic zirconia on the surface? What can we learn about the moon 4. billion years ago  in dust brought back by Apollo 17? A new comet is appears for the end of May which you can see near sunrise. Another comet discovered by Michael Mattiazzo can be see near sunrise at the end of May. Touching down on an asteroid is an incredible feat, and the preliminary data from Hyabusa2 and Ryugu are fascinating.

  1. T. Morota, S. Sugita, Y. Cho, M. Kanamaru, E. Tatsumi, N. Sakatani, R. Honda, N. Hirata, H. Kikuchi, M. Yamada, Y. Yokota, S. Kameda, M. Matsuoka, H. Sawada, C. Honda, T. Kouyama, K. Ogawa, H. Suzuki, K. Yoshioka, M. Hayakawa, N. Hirata, M. Hirabayashi, H. Miyamoto, T. Michikami, T. Hiroi, R. Hemmi, O. S. Barnouin, C. M. Ernst, K. Kitazato, T. Nakamura, L. Riu, H. Senshu, H. Kobayashi, S. Sasaki, G. Komatsu, N. Tanabe, Y. Fujii, T. Irie, M. Suemitsu, N. Takaki, C. Sugimoto, K. Yumoto, M. Ishida, H. Kato, K. Moroi, D. Domingue, P. Michel, C. Pilorget, T. Iwata, M. Abe, M. Ohtake, Y. Nakauchi, K. Tsumura, H. Yabuta, Y. Ishihara, R. Noguchi, K. Matsumoto, A. Miura, N. Namiki, S. Tachibana, M. Arakawa, H. Ikeda, K. Wada, T. Mizuno, C. Hirose, S. Hosoda, O. Mori, T. Shimada, S. Soldini, R. Tsukizaki, H. Yano, M. Ozaki, H. Takeuchi, Y. Yamamoto, T. Okada, Y. Shimaki, K. Shirai, Y. Iijima, H. Noda, S. Kikuchi, T. Yamaguchi, N. Ogawa, G. Ono, Y. Mimasu, K. Yoshikawa, T. Takahashi, Y. Takei, A. Fujii, S. Nakazawa, F. Terui, S. Tanaka, M. Yoshikawa, T. Saiki, S. Watanabe, Y. Tsuda. Sample collection from asteroid (162173) Ryugu by Hayabusa2: Implications for surface evolutionScience, 2020; 368 (6491): 654 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz6306
  2. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2020, May 13). New comet discovered by solar observatory. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200513135517.htm
  3. L. F. White, A. Černok, J. R. Darling, M. J. Whitehouse, K. H. Joy, C. Cayron, J. Dunlop, K. T. Tait, M. Anand. Evidence of extensive lunar crust formation in impact melt sheets 4,330 Myr agoNature Astronomy, 2020; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-020-1092-5
May 18, 2020

Episode 379 - Colourful feathers on dinosaurs and birds today

Colourful feathers on dinosaurs and their descendants. Sleek, fast, with sharp claws and iridescent feathers, Cassowaries are almost like dinosaurs. How do the cassowaries manage to get that special sheen on their feathers? What gives cassowaries they're menacing iridescence? Long flowing rainbow feathers, all wrapped around a small creature the size of a duck, hardly a terrifying image of a dinosaur. What connects a small duck like dinosaur with a hummingbird? Their iridescent feathers. 

  1. Chad M. Eliason, Julia A. Clarke. Cassowary gloss and a novel form of structural color in birdsScience Advances, 2020; 6 (20): eaba0187 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba0187
  2. Dongyu Hu, Julia A. Clarke, Chad M. Eliason, Rui Qiu, Quanguo Li, Matthew D. Shawkey, Cuilin Zhao, Liliana D’Alba, Jinkai Jiang, Xing Xu. A bony-crested Jurassic dinosaur with evidence of iridescent plumage highlights complexity in early paravian evolutionNature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-02515-y
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 27, 2020

Episode 363 - Mysteries from underwater volcanoes

There are mysterious things lurking at the bottom of the ocean, from underwater volcanoes to mysterious graphite. Where did a pumice raft floating across the Pacific come from? Why is a raft of pumice larger than Manhattan heading to Australia? What can we learn by studying petit-spot volcanoes underneath the ocean? What connects young volcanoes with the motion of the tectonic plates? What roll do hydrothermal vents play in the carbon cycle? Where does all this graphite in the oceans come from?

  1. Philipp A. Brandl, Florian Schmid, Nico Augustin, Ingo Grevemeyer, Richard J. Arculus, Colin W. Devey, Sven Petersen, Margaret Stewart, Heidrun Kopp, Mark D. Hannington. The 6–8 Aug 2019 eruption of ‘Volcano F’ in the Tofua Arc, Tonga. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 2019; 106695 DOI: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2019.106695
  2. Naoto Hirano, Shiki Machida, Hirochika Sumino, Kenji Shimizu, Akihiro Tamura, Taisei Morishita, Hideki Iwano, Shuhei Sakata, Teruaki Ishii, Shoji Arai, Shigekazu Yoneda, Tohru Danhara, Takafumi Hirata. Petit-spot volcanoes on the oldest portion of the Pacific plate. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, 2019; 154: 103142 DOI: 10.1016/j.dsr.2019.103142
  3. Harry MacKay, C. Anthony Scott, Jack D. Duryea, Maria S. Baker, Eleonora Laritsky, Amanda E. Elson, Theodore Garland, Marta L. Fiorotto, Rui Chen, Yumei Li, Cristian Coarfa, Richard B. Simerly, Robert A. Waterland. DNA methylation in AgRP neurons regulates voluntary exercise behavior in mice. Nature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-13339-3
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?


  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


November 4, 2019

Episode 351 - A new dwarf planet and what makes an exoplanet habitable

What makes a dwarf planet not a planet? What are the rules governing the word planet? Just how many dwarf planets are out there in our solar system? How can we use telescopes and modelling to add or subtract a dwarf planet from that list? We've talked about Goldilocks zone exoplanets, but what about their ability to withstand space weather? What role does a star's magnetic field play in protecting a planet from damaging radiation? Does space weather need to be added to the exoplanet Goldilocks zone?


  1. P. Vernazza, L. Jorda, P. Ševeček, M. Brož, M. Viikinkoski, J. Hanuš, B. Carry, A. Drouard, M. Ferrais, M. Marsset, F. Marchis, M. Birlan, E. Podlewska-Gaca, E. Jehin, P. Bartczak, G. Dudzinski, J. Berthier, J. Castillo-Rogez, F. Cipriani, F. Colas, F. DeMeo, C. Dumas, J. Durech, R. Fetick, T. Fusco, J. Grice, M. Kaasalainen, A. Kryszczynska, P. Lamy, H. Le Coroller, A. Marciniak, T. Michalowski, P. Michel, N. Rambaux, T. Santana-Ros, P. Tanga, F. Vachier, A. Vigan, O. Witasse, B. Yang, M. Gillon, Z. Benkhaldoun, R. Szakats, R. Hirsch, R. Duffard, A. Chapman, J. L. Maestre. A basin-free spherical shape as an outcome of a giant impact on asteroid Hygiea. Nature Astronomy, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-019-0915-8
  2. Alison O. Farrish, David Alexander, Mei Maruo, Marc DeRosa, Frank Toffoletto, Anthony M. Sciola. Characterizing the Magnetic Environment of Exoplanet Stellar Systems. The Astrophysical Journal, 2019; 885 (1): 51 DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ab4652
October 7, 2019

Episode 347 - Capturing carbon with better farms and forests

Capturing carbon is important for helping offset CO2 emissions and tackling climate changes. Farming has an important role to play in improving CO2 sequestration with the use of cover crops and compost. Forests are important carbon sinks too, but they are at risk releasing a lot of the trapped carbon if care is not taken to stop invasive species. Plus fertilisers have helped feed the planet but can leech out nitrogen into the environment, so how do we better manage and improve the nitrogen cycle.

  1. Nicole E. Tautges, Jessica L. Chiartas, Amélie C. M. Gaudin, Anthony T. O'Geen, Israel Herrera, Kate M. Scow. Deep soil inventories reveal that impacts of cover crops and compost on soil carbon sequestration differ in surface and subsurface soilsGlobal Change Biology, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.14762
  2. Songlin Fei, Randall S. Morin, Christopher M. Oswalt, Andrew M. Liebhold. Biomass losses resulting from insect and disease invasions in US forestsProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019; 201820601 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1820601116
  3. Benjamin Z. Houlton, Maya Almaraz, Viney Aneja, Amy T. Austin, Edith Bai, Kenneth G. Cassman, Jana E. Compton, Eric A. Davidson, Jan Willem Erisman, James N. Galloway, Baojing Gu, Guolin Yao, Luiz A. Martinelli, Kate Scow, William H. Schlesinger, Thomas P. Tomich, Chao Wang, Xin Zhang. A World of Cobenefits: Solving the Global Nitrogen ChallengeEarth's Future, 2019; DOI: 10.1029/2019EF001222