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409Episodes
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.

November 30, 2020

Episode 407 - Random generating DNA and random mouse movements

Random numbers are incredibly important for our digital economy, so how do we generate them? What is the best way to make a random number: roll a dice, lava lamp, guess, DNA? What connects lava lamps, e-commerce and synthetic DNA? How can we better generate random numbers using synthesized DNA. How do your mouse movements reveal about your decision making process. Do mouse movements help us identify risk takers or keen deliberators. Whether you know it or not, your mouse moving may be part of your decision making process.

  1. Linda C. Meiser, Julian Koch, Philipp L. Antkowiak, Wendelin J. Stark, Reinhard Heckel, Robert N. Grass. DNA synthesis for true random number generationNature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-19757-y
  2. Paul E. Stillman, Ian Krajbich, and Melissa J. Ferguson. Using dynamic monitoring of choices to predict and understand risk preferencesPNAS, 2020 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2010056117
May 27, 2019

Episode 328 - Mathematics and Nature, from Bees to Choruses of Frogs

Mathematics is not just something humans can perform. It's present across the universe and especially in nature. So can animals understand abstract mathematical concepts? Can we learn from the different complicated algorithms and mathematical models used by animals to improve the internet of things? What can social media help tell us about both human and animal tourists to nature reserves?

References:

  1. Scarlett R. Howard, Aurore Avarguès-Weber, Jair E. Garcia, Andrew D. Greentree, Adrian G. Dyer. Numerical cognition in honeybees enables addition and subtractionScience Advances, 2019; 5 (2): eaav0961 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav0961
  2. Ikkyu Aihara , Daichi Kominami , Yasuharu Hirano and Masayuki Murata. Mathematical modelling and application of frog choruses as an autonomous distributed communication systemRoyal Society Open Science, 2019 DOI: 10.1098/rsos.181117
  3. Anna Hausmann, Tuuli Toivonen, Christoph Fink, Vuokko Heikinheimo, Henrikki Tenkanen, Stuart H.M. Butchart, Thomas M. Brooks, Enrico Di Minin. Assessing global popularity and threats to Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas using social media dataScience of The Total Environment, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.05.268
November 5, 2018

Episode 299 - Redefining the kilogram a history of measurement

Have you ever stopped to wonder what ruler rules them all? How we set the standard for height, for weight, for everything around us? What if you weighed one thing one day, and travelled to another country and suddenly gained 5 kgs or had to use an entirely different weight system? What if you weighed one thing this week and more the next? This week we find out the history measurement systems, how we've standardised them and come up with unique and repeatable measures that don't rely on artefacts (real and metaphorically).

References:

  1. Suplee, C., Lauren Lee, J., Gillespie, A., Porter, G., Stein, B., & Phillips, B. et al. (2018). A Turning Point for Humanity: Redefining the World’s Measurement System. Retrieved from https://www.nist.gov/si-redefinition/turning-point-humanity-redefining-worlds-measurement-system
  2. Jabbour, Z., & Yaniv, S. (2001). The kilogram and measurements of mass and force. Journal of Research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, 106(1), 25. doi:10.6028/jres.106.003
  3. Newell, D. B. (2014). A more fundamental International System of Units. Physics Today, 67(7), 35-41. doi:10.1063/pt.3.2448
  4. Bureau International des Poids et Mesures. (n.d.). On the future revision of the SI. Retrieved from https://www.bipm.org/en/measurement-units/rev-si/
August 6, 2018

Episode 286 - Fields Medal 2018 - Solving problems in mathematics with tricks from other fields

The Fields Medals for 2018 have been announced, and Australian Mathematician, Professor Akshay Venkatesh was announced as one of the four recipients. Mathematics can seem like a group of different and diverse subjects, but Professor Venkatesh's work tied different areas of mathematics together to use one toolkit to solve problems in another area. We dive deep into the complex world of mathematics and look at the Fields Medals 2018. 

References:

  1. Slezak, M. (2018). This Aussie genius has won the 'Nobel Prize of mathematics'. [online] ABC News. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-02/fields-medal-aussie-genius-akshay-venkatesh-mathematics-prize/10062218 [Accessed 4 Aug. 2018].
  2. Jackson, A. (2018). [online] Mathunion.org. Available at: https://www.mathunion.org/fileadmin/IMU/Prizes/Fields/2018/venkatesh-final.pdf [Accessed 4 Aug. 2018].