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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.

August 31, 2020

Episode 394 - Travelling through time with telescopes

Telescopes can help us travel back in time to the early universe. We can watch galaxies form, the universe have a makeover and giant black holes appear. Using different telescopes we can learn about the cosmic dawn and the cosmic noon. The early universe was hazy and hard for light to travel far. What gave the early universe a makeover to allow starlight to travel? What fed the super hungry super massive black-holes of the early universe? Where did the early black holes find enough food to make them swell to massive sizes? What can we learn from the cosmic noon when most of the stars in the universe were formed? 

  1. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2020, January 6). Astronomers spot distant galaxy group driving ancient cosmic makeover. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 11, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200106141610.htm
  2. Emanuele Paolo Farina, Fabrizio Arrigoni-Battaia, Tiago Costa, Fabian Walter, Joseph F. Hennawi, Alyssa B. Drake, Roberto Decarli, Thales A. Gutcke, Chiara Mazzucchelli, Marcel Neeleman, Iskren Georgiev, Anna-Christina Eilers, Frederick B. Davies, Eduardo Bañados, Xiaohui Fan, Masafusa Onoue, Jan-Torge Schindler, Bram P. Venemans, Feige Wang, Jinyi Yang, Sebastian Rabien, Lorenzo Busoni. The REQUIEM Survey. I. A Search for Extended Lyα Nebular Emission Around 31 z > 5.7 Quasars. The Astrophysical Journal, 2019; 887 (2): 196 DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ab5847
  3. T. Mauch et al. The 1.28 GHz MeerKAT DEEP2 Image. The Astrophysical Journal, 2019 [link]
August 10, 2020

Episode 391 - Mysteries of the sun, stellar weather and magnetic fields

The sun contains many mysteries, which are hard to unravel without special space probes. Why is the sun's corona so much hotter than the sun's surface? What helps form the biggest solar flares? When two arches of the sun's magnetic fields meet it can create some dangerous flares. Solar storms and solar flares can destroy satellites, power grids and spaceships. How can we better predict stellar weather and avoid disaster? Mapping out the Suns magnetic field can help us better predict stellar weather.

  1. European Space Agency. (2020, July 16). Solar Orbiter's first images reveal 'campfires' on the Sun: ESA/NASA mission returns first data, snaps closest pictures of the Sun. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 7, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200716120652.htm
  2. Kanya Kusano, Tomoya Iju, Yumi Bamba, Satoshi Inoue. A physics-based method that can predict imminent large solar flaresScience, 2020; 369 (6503): 587 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz2511
July 13, 2020

Episode 387 - Black holes dancing, colliding and third wheeling

Scientists have discovered the closet black hole to Earth, but relax it's 1000 Light years away. Ever felt like a third wheel, just be thankful it's not a black hole. A binary star system that can be seen with the naked eye with a lurking black hole. Super massive  black holes are hard to get your head around but can unleash tremendous energy. When two super massive black holes dance around each other, the fireworks are spectacular. Predicting when two black holes will graze past each other helps us refine our understanding of the universe.

  1. Th. Rivinius, D. Baade, P. Hadrava, M. Heida and R. Klement. A naked-eye triple system with a nonaccreting black hole in the inner binaryAstronomy & Astrophysics, 2020 DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/202038020
  2. Seppo Laine, Lankeswar Dey, Mauri Valtonen, A. Gopakumar, Stanislaw Zola, S. Komossa, Mark Kidger, Pauli Pihajoki, José L. Gómez, Daniel Caton, Stefano Ciprini, Marek Drozdz, Kosmas Gazeas, Vira Godunova, Shirin Haque, Felix Hildebrandt, Rene Hudec, Helen Jermak, Albert K. H. Kong, Harry Lehto, Alexios Liakos, Katsura Matsumoto, Markus Mugrauer, Tapio Pursimo, Daniel E. Reichart, Andrii Simon, Michal Siwak, Eda Sonbas. Spitzer Observations of the Predicted Eddington Flare from Blazar OJ 287The Astrophysical Journal, 2020; 894 (1): L1 DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ab79a4
June 29, 2020

Episode 385 - Understanding what makes water stick together

What seems simple but it's deceptively complex. What makes water molecules stick together, or ice to float on top? Water has many mysteries, like ice floating on liquid. The key lies in the energy distribution. Shooting super high frequency lasers at water can help figure out what makes ice float or water stick together. Cheap and efficient ways to clean water is essential for saving lives across the globe. How can cyrstaline sponges help soak up bad chemicals like hexavalent chromium.

  1. Martina Havenith-Newen, Raffael Schwan, Chen Qu, Devendra Mani, Nitish Pal, Gerhard Schwaab, Joel M. Bowman, Gregory Tschumper. Observation of the low frequency spectrum of water trimer as a sensitive test of the water trimer potential and the dipole moment surface. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2020; DOI: 10.1002/anie.202003851
  2. Bardiya Valizadeh, Tu N. Nguyen, Stavroula Kampouri, Daniel T. Sun, Mounir D. Mensi, Kyriakos Stylianou, Berend Smit, Wendy L. Queen. A novel integrated Cr(vi) adsorption–photoreduction system using MOF@polymer composite beads. Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 2020; DOI: 10.1039/d0ta01046d
June 15, 2020

Episode 383 - Pulsars and fast radio bursts

From pulsars to fast radio bursts, we look at interstellar mysteries. Just how do Pulsars work? How long does it take for a Pulsar to be fed by surrounding matter? All that accretion disk matter spillaring around a Pulsar takes a long time to get there. What are Fast Radio Bursts? mysterious signals from deep space, or wobbly highly magnetised neutron stars? Magnetars, fast radio bursts and flares. What causes a fast radio burst in space to repeat?

  1. D R Lorimer, E F Keane, A Karastergiou, M Caleb, R P Breton, C G Bassa, D Agarwal, V Morello, B W Stappers, M B Mickaliger, K M Rajwade. Possible periodic activity in the repeating FRB 121102Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2020; 495 (4): 3551 DOI: 10.1093/mnras/staa1237
  2. Brian D Metzger, Ben Margalit, Lorenzo Sironi, Fast radio bursts as synchrotron maser emission from decelerating relativistic blast waves, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 485, Issue 3, May 2019, Pages 4091–4106, https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stz700
  3. Hall, S., & Quanta Magazine. (n.d.). A Surprise Discovery Points to the Source of Fast Radio Bursts. Retrieved June 13, 2020, from https://www.quantamagazine.org/a-surprise-discovery-shows-magnetars-create-fast-radio-bursts-20200611/
  4. Monash University. (2020, June 3). Astronomers capture a pulsar 'powering up'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 13, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/06/200603104549.htm
  5. A. J. Goodwin and D. M. Russell and D. K. Galloway et al, A 12 day delay between optical and X-ray activity during outburst rise in a low-mass X-ray binary, arXiv, astro-ph.HE, 2006.02872, 2020
May 4, 2020

Episode 377 - Hubble turns 30 and still takes amazing images

We celebrate the life and achievements of Hubble Space telescope and all that have worked on it over it's 30 years in space (and many more before that). We look at the challenges faced by Hubble early on, and the amazing science it is helping contribute to today. From stars being born, to comets tearing themselves apart Hubble sheds light on amazing science. The images Hubble takes are iconic and often look like science fiction. Hubble manages to celebrate it's birthday by capturing images of a comet tearing itself apart.

  1. Information@eso.org. (n.d.). Hubble Celebrates its 30th Anniversary with a Tapestry of Blazing Starbirth. Retrieved May 02, 2020, from https://www.spacetelescope.org/news/heic2007/
  2. ESA/Hubble Information Centre. (2020, April 28). Hubble captures breakup of comet ATLAS. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 1, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/04/200428142410.htm
February 24, 2020

Episode 367 - Sustainable and green Chemistry

Making chemistry green and sustainable, from cheaper catalyst to sorting solvents. How can you make catalysts cheaper and re-usable? Is there a cheaper catalyst to breakdown CO2? How can we make a circular carbon economy? Solvents play an important role in chemistry so how do you greenly find the right match? Green chemistry can be made more efficient using CO2.

  1. Youngdong Song, Ercan Ozdemir, Sreerangappa Ramesh, Aldiar Adishev, Saravanan Subramanian, Aadesh Harale, Mohammed Albuali, Bandar Abdullah Fadhel, Aqil Jamal, Dohyun Moon, Sun Hee Choi, Cafer T. Yavuz. Dry reforming of methane by stable Ni–Mo nanocatalysts on single-crystalline MgOScience, 2020; 367 (6479): 777 DOI: 10.1126/science.aav2412
  2. Suyong Han, Keshav Raghuvanshi, Milad Abolhasani. Accelerated Material-Efficient Investigation of Switchable Hydrophilicity Solvents for Energy-Efficient Solvent RecoveryACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, 2020; DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.9b07304
February 17, 2020

Episode 366 - The YORP Effect, Star Brawls and Solar wind

What happens when stars brawl? What do they leave behind? When stars are dying they take down everything and everything around them from asteroids to other stars. What is the YORP effect? How do some tiny solar particles destroy an asteroid? Spiraling out of control, asteroids get YORP-ed at the end of a star's life. When a star gets to the end of it's life, it may swell in size, taking out asteroids and nearby stars.

  1. H. Olofsson, T. Khouri, M. Maercker, P. Bergman, L. Doan, D. Tafoya, W. H. T. Vlemmings, E. M. L. Humphreys, M. Lindqvist, L. Nyman, S. Ramstedt. HD 101584: circumstellar characteristics and evolutionary status. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2019; 623: A153 DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201834897
  2. Dimitri Veras, Daniel J Scheeres. Post-main-sequence debris from rotation-induced YORP break-up of small bodies – II. Multiple fissions, internal strengths, and binary production. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2020; 492 (2): 2437 DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stz3565
  3. M. I. Desai, D. G. Mitchell, J. R. Szalay, E. C. Roelof, J. Giacalone, M. E. Hill, D. J. McComas, E. R. Christian, N. A. Schwadron, R. L. McNutt Jr., M. E. Wiedenbeck, C. Joyce, C. M. S. Cohen, R. W. Ebert, M. A. Dayeh, R. C. Allen, A. J. Davis, S. M. Krimigis, R. A. Leske, W. H. Matthaeus, O. Malandraki, R. A. Mewaldt, A. Labrador, E. C. Stone, S. D. Bale, M. Pulupa, R. J. MacDowall, J. C. Kasper. Properties of Suprathermal-through-energetic He Ions Associated with Stream Interaction Regions Observed over the Parker Solar Probe’s First Two Orbits. The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, 2020; 246 (2): 56 DOI: 10.3847/1538-4365/ab65ef
January 13, 2020

Episode 361 - Fast Radio Bursts, Cosmic Rays and Antarctica

From Fast Radio Bursts to Cosmic rays, interstellar mystery solving is a team effort. Mysterious repeating signals from space are tricky to localize, like spotting a person on the moon from here on Earth. What can fast radio bursts from billions of light years away tell us about the nature of the universe? How do you hunt for the source of a mysterious radio burst billions of light years away? How does a tiger, a balloon and Antarctica help us understand Supernova? What's the best place to hunt for cosmic rays; floating above Antarctica with a Super Tiger.

  1. B. Marcote, K. Nimmo, J. W. T. Hessels, S. P. Tendulkar, C. G. Bassa, Z. Paragi, A. Keimpema, M. Bhardwaj, R. Karuppusamy, V. M. Kaspi, C. J. Law, D. Michilli, K. Aggarwal, B. Andersen, A. M. Archibald, K. Bandura, G. C. Bower, P. J. Boyle, C. Brar, S. Burke-Spolaor, B. J. Butler, T. Cassanelli, P. Chawla, P. Demorest, M. Dobbs, E. Fonseca, U. Giri, D. C. Good, K. Gourdji, A. Josephy, A. Yu. Kirichenko, F. Kirsten, T. L. Landecker, D. Lang, T. J. W. Lazio, D. Z. Li, H.-H. Lin, J. D. Linford, K. Masui, J. Mena-Parra, A. Naidu, C. Ng, C. Patel, U.-L. Pen, Z. Pleunis, M. Rafiei-Ravandi, M. Rahman, A. Renard, P. Scholz, S. R. Siegel, K. M. Smith, I. H. Stairs, K. Vanderlinde, A. V. Zwaniga. A repeating fast radio burst source localized to a nearby spiral galaxy. Nature, 2020; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1866-z
  2. Ogliore, T. (2020, January 10). SuperTIGER on its second prowl -- 130,000 feet above Antarctica: The Source: Washington University in St. Louis. Retrieved from https://source.wustl.edu/2020/01/supertiger-on-its-second-prowl-130000-feet-above-antarctica/.
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