Loading Downloads
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.

October 14, 2019

Episode 348 - More efficient Lithium-Ion batteries and Organic Batteries

We launch from the Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2019 into current battery research and development. Creating the ubiquitous Lithium Ion battery took decades of collaborative research across the globe. How are scientists working together today to make the new generation of batteries? Can we improve LI batteries with new electrolyte mixes? How can we use Silicon instead of graphite in our batteries to give them a boost? Is it possible to make an organic recyclable battery? How can we use proteins and peptides to make organic batteries? Can we make batteries without damaging the environment?


  1. Nobel Foundation. (2019, October 9). Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019: Lithium-ion batteries. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 11, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191009082508.htm
  2. Binghong Han, Chen Liao, Fulya Dogan, Stephen E. Trask, Saul H. Lapidus, John T. Vaughey, Baris Key. Using Mixed Salt Electrolytes to Stabilize Silicon Anodes for Lithium-Ion Batteries via in Situ Formation of Li–M–Si Ternaries (M = Mg, Zn, Al, Ca)ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2019; 11 (33): 29780 DOI: 10.1021/acsami.9b07270
  3. American Chemical Society. (2019, August 26). Producing protein batteries for safer, environmentally friendly power storage. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 12, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190826092322.htm5
September 16, 2019

Episode 344 - Colliding galaxies, stellar foundires and the emptiness of space

We look at galactic events, where galaxies collide, stars form and emptiness of space. Space is so unfathomably huge, but its still possible for galaxies to collide. The Milky Way was formed through one of this violent collisions over 10 billion years ago. Space seems empty but there are sections of space that are emptier than others, the great Local Void around the Local group. Stars forming in galaxies rely on gas clouds, but what does it take to form a star? What do you need to really make a good nursery for stars?

  1. R. Brent Tully, Daniel Pomarède, Romain Graziani, Hélène M. Courtois, Yehuda Hoffman, Edward J. Shaya. Cosmicflows-3: Cosmography of the Local VoidThe Astrophysical Journal, 2019; 880 (1): 24 DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ab2597
  2. Kazufumi Torii, Shinji Fujita, Atsushi Nishimura, Kazuki Tokuda, Mikito Kohno, Kengo Tachihara, Shu-ichiro Inutsuka, Mitsuhiro Matsuo, Mika Kuriki, Yuya Tsuda, Tetsuhiro Minamidani, Tomofumi Umemoto, Nario Kuno, Yusuke Miyamoto. FOREST Unbiased Galactic plane Imaging survey with the Nobeyama 45 m telescope (FUGIN). V. Dense gas mass fraction of molecular gas in the Galactic planePublications of the Astronomical Society of Japan, 2019; DOI: 10.1093/pasj/psz033
  3. Carme Gallart, Edouard J. Bernard, Chris B. Brook, Tomás Ruiz-Lara, Santi Cassisi, Vanessa Hill, Matteo Monelli. Uncovering the birth of the Milky Way through accurate stellar ages with GaiaNature Astronomy, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-019-0829-5
September 2, 2019

Episode 342 - Better chemistry and physics in everyday objects

How can we use physics and chemistry to help improve our everyday objects? Melting ice is very important for airplanes and air-conditioners. How can you melt unwanted on objects ice more efficiently? Ice on an airplane wing can be dangerous, so how do we melt it more efficiently. Flame retardants are important to stop fire spreading, but how do we make them safer and environmentally friendly? Flame retardants often rely on petroleum which are not environmental friendly. How can we stop flame retardants leeching into the environment or into our households? How do you get white paint without relying on environmentally intensive additives. What can beetles and recycle plastic teach us about making whiter paint.


  1. S. Chavan, T. Foulkes, Y. Gurumukhi, K. Boyina, K. F. Rabbi, N. Miljkovic. Pulse interfacial defrosting. Applied Physics Letters, 2019; 115 (7): 071601 DOI: 10.1063/1.5113845
  2. Stephanie L. Burg, Adam Washington, David M. Coles, Antonino Bianco, Daragh McLoughlin, Oleksandr O. Mykhaylyk, Julie Villanova, Andrew J. C. Dennison, Christopher J. Hill, Pete Vukusic, Scott Doak, Simon J. Martin, Mark Hutchings, Steven R. Parnell, Cvetelin Vasilev, Nigel Clarke, Anthony J. Ryan, Will Furnass, Mike Croucher, Robert M. Dalgliesh, Sylvain Prevost, Rajeev Dattani, Andrew Parker, Richard A. L. Jones, J. Patrick A. Fairclough, Andrew J. Parnell. Liquid–liquid phase separation morphologies in ultra-white beetle scales and a synthetic equivalent. Communications Chemistry, 2019; 2 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s42004-019-0202-8
  3. American Chemical Society. (2019, August 26). Flame retardants -- from plants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 31, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190826092330.htm
August 5, 2019

Episode 338 - Exoplanets boiling and stretching, Goldilocks and Supernova

Boiling planets being stretched and squished. Tiny white dwarf stars going supernova. Goldilocks planets potentially with liquid water. Exoplanet hunting is now a lot easier with missions like TESS and veterans like Hubble. We look at some special cases, and how searching for 1 planet can uncover loads more. Sometimes planets are lurking in old observatory data, we just need to know where to look. Too hot, too cold, GJ357 potentially has a planet that's just right with liquid water. What causes a White Dwarf to go supernova? It needs more than itself to kickstart it into a Type 1a nova...so where does the extra boost come from? Devouring another planet? Or another star?

  1. L. Kaltenegger, J. Madden, Z. Lin, S. Rugheimer, A. Segura, R. Luque, E. Palle, N. Espinoza. The Habitability of GJ 357 d Possible Climates and Observability. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 2019; (accepted) [link]
  2. R. Luque, E. Pallé, D. Kossakowski, S. Dreizler, J. Kemmer, N. Espinoza. Planetary system around the nearby M dwarf GJ 357 including a transiting, hot, Earth-sized planet optimal for atmospheric characterization. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2019; DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201935801
  3. David K. Sing, Panayotis Lavvas, Gilda E. Ballester, Alain Lecavelier des Etangs, Mark S. Marley, Nikolay Nikolov, Lotfi Ben-Jaffel, Vincent Bourrier, Lars A. Buchhave, Drake L. Deming, David Ehrenreich, Thomas Mikal-Evans, Tiffany Kataria, Nikole K. Lewis, Mercedes López-Morales, Antonio García Muñoz, Gregory W. Henry, Jorge Sanz-Forcada, Jessica J. Spake, Hannah R. Wakeford. The Hubble Space Telescope PanCET Program: Exospheric Mg ii and Fe ii in the Near-ultraviolet Transmission Spectrum of WASP-121b Using Jitter Decorrelation. The Astronomical Journal, 2019; 158 (2): 91 DOI: 10.3847/1538-3881/ab2986
  4. P J Vallely, M Fausnaugh, S W Jha, M A Tucker, Y Eweis, B J Shappee, C S Kochanek, K Z Stanek, Ping Chen, Subo Dong, J L Prieto, T Sukhbold, Todd A Thompson, J Brimacombe, M D Stritzinger, T W-S Holoien, D A H Buckley, M Gromadzki, Subhash Bose. ASASSN-18tb: a most unusual Type Ia supernova observed by TESS and SALT. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2019; 487 (2): 2372 DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stz1445
July 7, 2019

Lagrange Point Episode 334 - Hidden in empty space

  • Space seems so incredibly vast and empty, but there is a lot hidden inside that seemingly empty void. From fungal spores to charged bucky balls. Radiation in space seeps everywhere and makes long term space travel dangerous for humans, but fungal spores cope just fine. Radiation can also cause beautiful light shows like the aurora but can make light tough for astronauts. How can we use social media to track the beautiful aurora light shows? How do we clean a space ship or space station?


    1. L. Orr, S. C. Chapman, J. W. Gjerloev. Directed network of substorms using SuperMAG ground‐based magnetometer data. Geophysical Research Letters, 2019; DOI: 10.1029/2019GL082824
    2. American Geophysical Union. (2019, June 27). Space station mold survives high doses of ionizing radiation: New research presented at the 2019 Astrobiology Science Conference in Bellevue, Wa.. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 7, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/06/190627121252.htm
    3. M. A. Cordiner, H. Linnartz, N. L. J. Cox, J. Cami, F. Najarro, C. R. Proffitt, R. Lallement, P. Ehrenfreund, B. H. Foing, T. R. Gull, P. J. Sarre, S. B. Charnley. Confirming Interstellar C60 Using the Hubble Space Telescope. The Astrophysical Journal, 2019; 875 (2): L28 DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ab14e5


June 17, 2019

Episode 331 - Making modern technology less energy intensive

Our modern world relies on energy, and some of it produce a lot of carbon dioxide. How can we make everything from air travel to wearable tech be less carbon intensive? Is there a way to make jet fuel or power ships that is carbon neutral? Just how much energy do crypto currency burn up? What is the impact of all this Bitcoin speculation on the health of the planet? From Fitbits to smart watches and Pokemon Go, wearable tech is a big trend, but how can we make these devices power themselves. There is a lot of excess energy when we walk and move, so can we use this to power our technology?


  1. ETH Zurich. (2019, June 13). Carbon-neutral fuel made from sunlight and air. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 15, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/06/190613103146.htm
  2. Christian Stoll, Lena Klaaßen, Ulrich Gallersdörfer. The Carbon Footprint of BitcoinJoule, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.joule.2019.05.012
  3. Michael G. Stanford, John T. Li, Yieu Chyan, Zhe Wang, Winston Wang, James M. Tour. Laser-Induced Graphene Triboelectric NanogeneratorsACS Nano, 2019; DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.9b02596
June 3, 2019

Episode 329 - Mysteries from the formation of our solar systems

There are many things we don't understand from the formation of our solar system. Why did Jupiter end up with weird asymmetrical groupings of asteroids around it? Is there a region of dust free space around the sun? If there is why can't we find it? What caused the beautiful rings of dust millions of kms wide around Venus and Mercury? Where did that dust come from? All these questions and more as we unpack the hidden parts of our solar system.


  1. Petr Pokorný, Marc Kuchner. Co-orbital Asteroids as the Source of Venus's Zodiacal Dust Ring. The Astrophysical Journal, 2019; 873 (2): L16 DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ab0827
  2. S. Pirani, A. Johansen, B. Bitsch, A.J. Mustill, D. Turrini. Consequences of planetary migration on the minor bodies of the early solar system. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2019; DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201833713
April 29, 2019

Episode 324 - Hunting for missing matter, gravitational waves and stellar deaths

Hunting for missing dark matter or gravitational waves involves incredibly precise measurements. Scientists are constantly developing new measurement techniques to try and find new sources of data and test theories. Whether it be staring at the space between Andromeda and the Milky Way to find primordial black holes, to looking in the remnants of a white dwarf using spectroscopy. Plus ways to make the newer generation of gravitational wave detectors more accurate by listening to quantum noise.


  1. Hiroko Niikura, Masahiro Takada, Naoki Yasuda, Robert H. Lupton, Takahiro Sumi, Surhud More, Toshiki Kurita, Sunao Sugiyama, Anupreeta More, Masamune Oguri, Masashi Chiba. Microlensing constraints on primordial black holes with Subaru/HSC Andromeda observations. Nature Astronomy, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-019-0723-1
  2. Christopher J. Manser, Boris T. Gänsicke, Siegfried Eggl, Mark Hollands, Paula Izquierdo, Detlev Koester, John D. Landstreet, Wladimir Lyra, Thomas R. Marsh, Farzana Meru, Alexander J. Mustill, Pablo Rodríguez-Gil, Odette Toloza, Dimitri Veras, David J. Wilson, Matthew R. Burleigh, Melvyn B. Davies, Jay Farihi, Nicola Gentile Fusillo, Domitilla De Martino, Steven G. Parsons, Andreas Quirrenbach, Roberto Raddi, Sabine Reffert, Melania Del Santo, Matthias R. Schreiber, Roberto Silvotti, Silvia Toonen,†, Eva Villaver, Mark Wyatt, Siyi Xu, Simon Portegies Zwart. A planetesimal orbiting within the debris disc around a white dwarf star. Science, 2019 DOI: 10.1126/science.aat5330
  3. Jonathan Cripe, Nancy Aggarwal, Robert Lanza, Adam Libson, Robinjeet Singh, Paula Heu, David Follman, Garrett D. Cole, Nergis Mavalvala, Thomas Corbitt. Measurement of quantum back action in the audio band at room temperature. Nature, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1051-4


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.


  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 4, 2019

Episode 312 - Making water work for us in a Polar Vortex, Drought and Power plant

Water is essential for life, but if its too cold it can cause havoc on infrastructure. If it's too hot there is not enough to go around. If it's too salty its not good for organic material, and if its saturated with CO2 its even more dangerous. So how do we keep water working for us as our climate changes and we have more droughts, more polar vortexes and more power plants? This week we find out about advances in chemistry and materials science that can help make better use of water.


  1. Peyman Irajizad, Abdullah Al-Bayati, Bahareh Eslami, Taha Shafquat, Masoumeh Nazari, Parham Jafari, Varun Kashyap, Ali Masoudi, Daniel Araya, Hadi Ghasemi. Stress-Localized Durable Icephobic SurfacesMaterials Horizons, 2019; DOI: 10.1039/C8MH01291A
  2. Peyman Irajizad, Abdullah Al-Bayati, Bahareh Eslami, Taha Shafquat, Masoumeh Nazari, Parham Jafari, Varun Kashyap, Ali Masoudi, Daniel Araya, Hadi Ghasemi. Stress-Localized Durable Icephobic SurfacesMaterials Horizons, 2019; DOI: 10.1039/C8MH01291A
  3. Neil Williams et al. CO2 Capture via Crystalline Hydrogen-Bonded Bicarbonate DimersChem, 2019 DOI: 10.1016/j.chempr.2018.12.025
  4. Image: Cory W Watts, 2009
January 28, 2019

Episode 311 - Stellar deaths, black holes, white dwarf accomplices and crystal stars

What happens when a star dies? We can investigate what is left behind at the scene of the crime to piece together the final moments of a star. Some become white dwarfs so cold and cool they crystallize with thick oxygen and carbon skins. Others collapse in on themselves becoming supernova in a catastrophic core collapse. But sometimes in complex binary systems there is an accomplice that pushes the star over the edge, into supernova territory. Plus super massive black holes can devour passing stars, but sometimes they have a little help.

  1. Pier-Emmanuel Tremblay, Gilles Fontaine, Nicola Pietro Gentile Fusillo, Bart H. Dunlap, Boris T. Gänsicke, Mark A. Hollands, J. J. Hermes, Thomas R. Marsh, Elena Cukanovaite, Tim Cunningham. Core crystallization and pile-up in the cooling sequence of evolving white dwarfs. Nature, 2019; 565 (7738): 202 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0791-x
  2. Graham ML et al. Delayed Circumstellar Interaction for Type Ia SN 2015cp Revealed by an HST Ultraviolet Imaging Survey. The Astrophysical Journal, 2019
  3. Dheeraj R. Pasham, Ronald A. Remillard, P. Chris Fragile, Alessia Franchini, Nicholas C. Stone, Giuseppe Lodato, Jeroen Homan, Deepto Chakrabarty, Frederick K. Baganoff, James F. Steiner, Eric R. Coughlin, Nishanth R. Pasham. A loud quasi-periodic oscillation after a star is disrupted by a massive black hole. Science, Jan. 9, 2019; DOI: 10.1126/science.aar7480
January 14, 2019

Episode 309 - Mysterious signals from outside our galaxy!

Space is filled with incredibly strange objects, from black holes to neutron stars. In the right conditions these strange stellar objects create incredibly powerful radio bursts which give radio astronomers a treasure trove of data. From the WOW! Signal to Pulsars we recap the history of strange space signals, and we look at the modern hunt for Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) and how the CHIME observatory in Canada is shedding light on this mystery.

  1. CHIME FRB Collaboration. Observations of fast radio bursts at frequencies down to 400 megahertzNature, 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0867-7
  2. CHIME FRB Collaboration. A second source of repeating fast radio burstsNature, 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0864-x
  3. Mann, Adam (28 March 2017). "Core Concept: Unraveling the enigma of fast radio bursts"Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A114 (13): 3269–3271. Bibcode:2017PNAS..114.3269Mdoi:10.1073/pnas.1703512114PMC 5380068PMID 28351957.
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.


  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/
December 17, 2018

Episode 305 - Reaching space, the darkside of the moon and wet asteroids

It's been a busy week in space news from Virgin Galactic finally reaching space, to wet asteroids and even a mystery in space. We find out about the latest missions to investigate surprisingly damp asteroids by JAXA and NASA. We recap the swirling controversy around a mysterious hole in the Soyuz spacecraft, plus the latest on Chang'e-4's journey to the dark side of the moon.

  1. Antczak, J. (n.d.). Virgin Galactic tourism rocket ship reaches space in test. Retrieved from https://phys.org/news/2018-12-virgin-galactic-rocket-ship-space.html
  2. Jones, A. (2018, December 12). Chang'e-4 spacecraft enters lunar orbit ahead of first-ever far side landing. Retrieved from https://spacenews.com/change-4-spacecraft-enters-lunar-orbit-ahead-of-first-ever-far-side-landing/
  3. Yamaguchi, M. (n.d.). Photos from Japan space rovers show rocky asteroid surface. Retrieved from https://phys.org/news/2018-12-photos-japan-space-rovers-rocky.html
  4. Materials provided by University of Arizona. Original written by Erin Morton/OSIRIS-REx and Daniel Stolte. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
December 10, 2018

Episode 304 - Flexible electronics, graphene transfer and paper sensors

Flexible electronics and phones sound like science fiction,but materials engineers are turning them into science fact. We find out about projects from across the world to make it a reality. From Australian flexible screens, to MIT's incredibly thin and exotic semiconductors to Purdue's paper based circuits for medical applications.


  1. Linglong Zhang, Ankur Sharma, Yi Zhu, Yuhan Zhang, Bowen Wang, Miheng Dong, Hieu T. Nguyen, Zhu Wang, Bo Wen, Yujie Cao, Boqing Liu, Xueqian Sun, Jiong Yang, Ziyuan Li, Arara Kar, Yi Shi, Daniel Macdonald, Zongfu Yu, Xinran Wang, Yuerui Lu. Efficient and Layer-Dependent Exciton Pumping across Atomically Thin Organic-Inorganic Type-I HeterostructuresAdvanced Materials, 2018; 30 (40): 1803986 DOI: 10.1002/adma.201803986
  2. Wei Kong, Huashan Li, Kuan Qiao, Yunjo Kim, Kyusang Lee, Yifan Nie, Doyoon Lee, Tom Osadchy, Richard J Molnar, D. Kurt Gaskill, Rachael L. Myers-Ward, Kevin M. Daniels, Yuewei Zhang, Suresh Sundram, Yang Yu, Sang-hoon Bae, Siddharth Rajan, Yang Shao-Horn, Kyeongjae Cho, Abdallah Ougazzaden, Jeffrey C. Grossman, Jeehwan Kim. Polarity governs atomic interaction through two-dimensional materialsNature Materials, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41563-018-0176-4
  3. Behnam Sadri, Debkalpa Goswami, Marina Sala de Medeiros, Aniket Pal, Beatriz Castro, Shihuan Kuang, Ramses V. Martinez. Wearable and Implantable Epidermal Paper-Based ElectronicsACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2018; 10 (37): 31061 DOI: 10.1021/acsami.8b11020
November 12, 2018

Episode 300 - Once in a blue asteroid, hidden objects in the Lagrange Point

In our 300th episode we return to our roots, the Lagrange Point. We find out about some odd objects hanging out at Earth's Lagrange Point, and how satellites can survive fierce solar storms only to be undone by a stiff breeze. Plus something rarer than a blue moon, a blue asteroid!

  1. Judit Slíz-Balogh, András Barta, Gábor Horváth. Celestial mechanics and polarization optics of the Kordylewski dust cloud in the Earth–Moon Lagrange point L5 – Part II. Imaging polarimetric observation: new evidence for the existence of Kordylewski dust cloudMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2019; 482 (1): 762 DOI: 10.1093/mnras/sty2630
  2. Richard B. Horne, Mark W. Phillips, Sarah A. Glauert, Nigel P. Meredith, Alex D. P. Hands, Keith A. Ryden, Wen Li. Realistic Worst Case for a Severe Space Weather Event Driven by a Fast Solar Wind Stream. Space Weather, 2018; DOI: 10.1029/2018SW001948
  3. University of Arizona. (2018, October 29). Rare blue asteroid reveals itself during fly-by. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 9, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181029152849.htm
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).


  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/
October 29, 2018

Episode 298 - Self healing materials, scratch tests and the crockmeter

Self healing materials sound like science fiction, but how can we turn them into a reality? What does self healing even mean? We dive into the material science of self healing systems to find out what mechanism are used and how you can make a material heal. Plus we find out how you can make a self healing material out of common plastics using one of the weakest forces. Plus how scientists test and assess different materials including using....a crockmeter.


  1. Marek W. Urban, Dmitriy Davydovich, Ying Yang, Tugba Demir, Yunzhi Zhang, Leah Casabianca. Key-and-lock commodity self-healing copolymersScience, 2018; 362 (6411): 220 DOI: 10.1126/science.aat2975
  2. Linqian Feng, Beatrice (Nadia) Benhamida, Chen-Yuan Lu, Li Piin Sung, Pierre Morel, Andrew T. Detwiler, Jon M. Skelly, Leslie T. Baker, Deepanjan Bhattacharya. Fundamentals and characterizations of scratch resistance on automotive clearcoatsProgress in Organic Coatings, 2018; 125: 339 DOI: 10.1016/j.porgcoat.2018.09.011
September 17, 2018

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

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. 



  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 3, 2018

Episode 290 - The strange chemistry of exoplanets from their cores to atmospheres

Exoplanets are home to some extremely out of this world chemistry. From raining diamonds, to gaseous iron and titanium, even to secret supplies of water. If we want to understand just how unique our place in the universe is, we can try and replicate the odd conditions of exoplanets right here on earth. 



  1. Peter M. Celliers et al. Insulator-metal transition in dense fluid deuteriumScience, 2018 DOI: 10.1126/science.aat0970
  2. Sergey S. Lobanov, Qiang Zhu, Nicholas Holtgrewe, Clemens Prescher, Vitali B. Prakapenka, Artem R. Oganov, Alexander F. Goncharov. Stable magnesium peroxide at high pressureScientific Reports, 2015; 5: 13582 DOI: 10.1038/srep13582
  3. H. Jens Hoeijmakers, David Ehrenreich, Kevin Heng, Daniel Kitzmann, Simon L. Grimm, Romain Allart, Russell Deitrick, Aurélien Wyttenbach, Maria Oreshenko, Lorenzo Pino, Paul B. Rimmer, Emilio Molinari, Luca Di Fabrizio. Atomic iron and titanium in the atmosphere of the exoplanet KELT-9bNature, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0401-y
  4. Goldschmidt Conference. (2018, August 18). Water-worlds are common: Exoplanets may contain vast amounts of water. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 18, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180818115758.htm