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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.

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 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 11, 2020

Episode 378 - Maple Syrup Golden tongues and antioxidants

Taste testing maple syrup and long lasting antioxidants. How do you judge the taste of something as complex as maple syrup? How can a golden tongue help find gold, silver and bronze maple syrups? Antioxidants can keep food fresh and wounds safe, so how can they be made long lasting? Tannic acid often found in wines can make great antioxidants, but how to make their chemical effect long lasting? Fine woven meshes embedded with antioxidants can help flexible wrap food and wounds to keep them safe.

  1. Simon Forest, Trevor Théorêt, Julien Coutu, Jean-Francois Masson. A high-throughput plasmonic tongue using an aggregation assay and nonspecific interactions: classification of taste profiles in maple syrupAnalytical Methods, 2020; DOI: 10.1039/C9AY01942A
  2. Adwait Gaikwad, Hanna Hlushko, Parvin Karimineghlani, Victor Selin, Svetlana A. Sukhishvili. Hydrogen-Bonded, Mechanically Strong Nanofibers with Tunable Antioxidant ActivityACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2020; 12 (9): 11026 DOI: 10.1021/acsami.9b23212
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
April 20, 2020

Episode 375 - Solar Panels that work at night and on greenhouses

From solar panels on greenhouses to ones that work at night. How can you use radiant heat to make a solar panel work at night? Is there a way to harness energy from the sun even at night? Can you cover a greenhouse with solar panels without destroying your crops? What's the tipping point for harvesting solar energy for your greenhouse? Balancing the light needs of solar panels and of crops in a greenhouse. How does the photosynthesis process know which path to take? Shinning a light on the photosynthetic process.

  1. Tristan Deppe, Jeremy N. Munday. Nighttime Photovoltaic Cells: Electrical Power Generation by Optically Coupling with Deep SpaceACS Photonics, 2019; 7 (1): 1 DOI: 10.1021/acsphotonics.9b00679
  2. Eshwar Ravishankar, Ronald E. Booth, Carole Saravitz, Heike Sederoff, Harald W. Ade, Brendan T. O’Connor. Achieving Net Zero Energy Greenhouses by Integrating Semitransparent Organic Solar CellsJoule, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.joule.2019.12.018
  3. Philip D. Laible, Deborah K. Hanson, James C. Buhrmaster, Gregory A. Tira, Kaitlyn M. Faries, Dewey Holten, Christine Kirmaier. Switching sides—Reengineered primary charge separation in the bacterial photosynthetic reaction centerProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2020; 117 (2): 865 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1916119117
April 13, 2020

Episode 374 - Lasers, Metal and Insect wings vs Bacteria

Taking the fight to bacteria with lasers, metal and insect wings. How can lasers help make a material into a bacteria destroyer? Metal in fantasy has demon slaying properties, but how can it help fight bacteria? What can we learn from insect wings to help make safer implants? What is it about silver that makes it good for killing bacteria (and werewolves). Why are metals so dangerous for bacteria? How can we treat and use metal to make medical devices safer from bacteria?

  1. Vidhya Selvamani, Amin Zareei, Ahmed Elkashif, Murali Kannan Maruthamuthu, Shirisha Chittiboyina, Davide Delisi, Zheng Li, Lirong Cai, Vilas G. Pol, Mohamed N. Seleem, Rahim Rahimi. Hierarchical Micro/Mesoporous Copper Structure with Enhanced Antimicrobial Property via Laser Surface Texturing. Advanced Materials Interfaces, 2020; 1901890 DOI: 10.1002/admi.201901890
  2. Asmaa A. Sadoon, Prabhat Khadka, Jack Freeland, Ravi Kumar Gundampati, Ryan H. Manso, Mason Ruiz, Venkata R. Krishnamurthi, Suresh Kumar Thallapuranam, Jingyi Chen, Yong Wang. Silver Ions Caused Faster Diffusive Dynamics of Histone-Like Nucleoid-Structuring Proteins in Live Bacteria. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2020; 86 (6) DOI: 10.1128/AEM.02479-19
  3. J. Jenkins, J. Mantell, C. Neal, A. Gholinia, P. Verkade, A. H. Nobbs, B. Su. Antibacterial effects of nanopillar surfaces are mediated by cell impedance, penetration and induction of oxidative stress. Nature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-15471-x
March 30, 2020

Episode 372 - Flexible and wearable electronics

How can we make flexible electronics for our clothing? What does it take to make a screen that's flexible without relying on plastics? What aquatic by product can help make biodegradable, flexible electronics? Why do your towels go hard when you dry them in the sun? What happens on cotton fibres to make them stiffen up in the sun? How does fabric softener work - we're really not sure.

  1. Nara Kim, Samuel Lienemann, Ioannis Petsagkourakis, Desalegn Alemu Mengistie, Seyoung Kee, Thomas Ederth, Viktor Gueskine, Philippe Leclère, Roberto Lazzaroni, Xavier Crispin, Klas Tybrandt. Elastic conducting polymer composites in thermoelectric modulesNature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-15135-w
  2. Xiaopan Zhang, Tengyang Ye, Xianghao Meng, Zhihui Tian, Lihua Pang, Yaojie Han, Hai Li, Gang Lu, Fei Xiu, Hai-Dong Yu, Juqing Liu, Wei Huang. Sustainable and Transparent Fish Gelatin Films for Flexible Electroluminescent DevicesACS Nano, 2020; DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.9b09880
  3. Takako Igarashi, Masato Hoshi, Koichi Nakamura, Takeshi Kaharu, Ken-ichiro Murata. Direct Observation of Bound Water on Cotton Surfaces by Atomic Force Microscopy and Atomic Force Microscopy–Infrared SpectroscopyThe Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 2020; 124 (7): 4196 DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.0c00423
March 16, 2020

Episode 370 - Explosions in space and citizen science

From galactic explosions, and waiting for supernova space is full of mysteries. What happens when a super massive black hole in a massive galaxy cluster...erupts? A massive explosion shred a hole 15 times larger than the Milky Way. What is happening with Betelgeuse? Could Betelgeuse just have shed it's coat? Is Betelgeuse about to go 'nova or is something else happening?   We find out about galactic research you can do from your couch. Tracing out a spiral is easy for humans to do, so why not help trace out a galaxy? Looking for something to do at home, why not citizen science helping trace galaxies?

  1. S. Giacintucci, M. Markevitch, M. Johnston-Hollitt, D. R. Wik, Q. H. S. Wang, T. E. Clarke. Discovery of a giant radio fossil in the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster. The Astrophysical Journal, 2020 [link]
  2. Patrick Treuthardt, Ian B Hewitt. Comparison of galaxy spiral arm pitch angle measurements using manual and automated techniques. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2020; 493 (3): 3854 DOI: 10.1093/mnras/staa354
  3. Emily M. Levesque, Philip Massey. Betelgeuse Just Isn't That Cool: Effective Temperature Alone Cannot Explain the Recent Dimming of Betelgeuse. submitted to arXiv, 2020 [link]
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
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/.
January 6, 2020

Episode 360 - Imaging hard-working Cells keeping you alive during illness

How do we peer into the inner workings of our cells, especially during their response to a medical emergency? What role does fibroblasts play to protect your heart after a heart attack? When is your body hardest at work repairing damage after a heart attack? What stem cells control your blood cells? How can we get a picture of the complex 3D shape of blood stem cells in your bone marrow? What role does bone marrow play in blood regulation?

  1. Chiara Baccin, Jude Al-Sabah, Lars Velten, Patrick M. Helbling, Florian Grünschläger, Pablo Hernández-Malmierca, César Nombela-Arrieta, Lars M. Steinmetz, Andreas Trumpp, Simon Haas. Combined single-cell and spatial transcriptomics reveal the molecular, cellular and spatial bone marrow niche organizationNature Cell Biology, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41556-019-0439-6
  2. Zohreh Varasteh, Sarajo Mohanta, Stephanie Robu, Miriam Braeuer, Yuanfang Li, Negar Omidvari, Geoffrey Topping, Ting Sun, Stephan G. Nekolla, Antonia Richter, Christian Weber, Andreas Habenicht, Uwe A. Haberkorn, Wolfgang A. Weber. Molecular Imaging of Fibroblast Activity After Myocardial Infarction Using a 68Ga-Labeled Fibroblast Activation Protein Inhibitor, FAPI-04Journal of Nuclear Medicine, 2019; 60 (12): 1743 DOI: 10.2967/jnumed.119.226993
December 2, 2019

Episode 355 - Satellites keeping us safe on the ground

Satellites can help save lives down on earth, by helping us better respond in disasters. When a flood, tsunami or other disaster strikes, satellites can help emergency responders get where they need to be as fast as possible. Satellites can track floods in near real time and help shave minutes of disaster response times. Finding your way in a flood or fire can be tricky, but satellites can help direct emergency responders. Satellites can help track critical infrastructure like bridges or roads as they age. When a bridge fails it can be a tragedy, but satellites can help give an early warning. When we dig big tunnels we can disturb structures and buildings, so how can we use satellites to avoid a disaster.


  1. Perry C. Oddo, John D. Bolten. The Value of Near Real-Time Earth Observations for Improved Flood Disaster ResponseFrontiers in Environmental Science, 2019; 7 DOI: 10.3389/fenvs.2019.00127
  2. Pietro Milillo, Giorgia Giardina, Daniele Perissin, Giovanni Milillo, Alessandro Coletta, Carlo Terranova. Pre-Collapse Space Geodetic Observations of Critical Infrastructure: The Morandi Bridge, Genoa, ItalyRemote Sensing, 2019; 11 (12): 1403 DOI: 10.3390/rs11121403
November 11, 2019

Episode 352 - Figuring out where sound comes from and perceiving pitch

This week we look at the way our brains process sound, music, pitch and rhythm. How does our brain figure out where a sound is coming from? Do our eyes and ears process distance and location in a similar way? How does our brain discern differences in stimuli? What can we learn about pitch and rhythm from studying a remote Bolivian tribe? Is there a biological limit to our perception of sounds? Is our ability to perceive rhythm, chords and pitch cultural or biological?


  1. Antje Ihlefeld, Nima Alamatsaz, Robert M Shapley. Population rate-coding predicts correctly that human sound localization depends on sound intensityeLife, 2019; 8 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.47027
  2. Nori Jacoby, Eduardo A. Undurraga, Malinda J. McPherson, Joaquín Valdés, Tomás Ossandón, Josh H. McDermott. Universal and Non-universal Features of Musical Pitch Perception Revealed by SingingCurrent Biology, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.08.020
October 28, 2019

Episode 350 - Developing, tracking, recycling new materials

Smart phones, computers, televisions and even children's toys are part of what makes our modern world so exciting. But these often rely on plastics and rare earth metals which are hard to recycle. Are there efficient ways to capture all those rare earth metals? How are rare earth metals in old phones recycled today, and can we make it better? Knowing which bin to put plastic in is difficult, so what if there was a more universal way to recycle plastics? How does turning plastic into a gas with the help of steam help create a circular plastic economy? How can some steam power help crack plastics back into their most basic forms? Is it possible to recycle plastics without to build whole new plastic refineries? Regulation is often playing catch up to making materials safe. Are the latest generation of 'safe' fire retardants any safer than those that came before? 



Robert F. Higgins, Thibault Cheisson, Bren E. Cole, Brian C. Manor, Patrick J. Carroll, Eric J Schelter. Magnetic Field Directed Rare-Earth Separations. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2019; DOI: 10.1002/anie.201911606

Arlene Blum, Mamta Behl, Linda S. Birnbaum, Miriam L. Diamond, Allison Phillips, Veena Singla, Nisha S. Sipes, Heather M. Stapleton, Marta Venier. Organophosphate Ester Flame Retardants: Are They a Regrettable Substitution for Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers? Environmental Science & Technology Letters, 2019; DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.9b00582

Henrik Thunman, Teresa Berdugo Vilches, Martin Seemann, Jelena Maric, Isabel Cañete Vela, Sébastien Pissot, Huong N.T. Nguyen. Circular use of plastics-transformation of existing petrochemical clusters into thermochemical recycling plants with 100% plastics recovery. Sustainable Materials and Technologies, 2019; 22: e00124 DOI: 10.1016/j.susmat.2019.e00124

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 30, 2019

Episode 346 - Can washing machines help stop microplastics in oceans and make hospitals safer

Washing machines can save a lot of time and help clean up mess, but they can also harm our health and environment. Which washing process is better for the environment - full an fast or empty and delicate? How do washing machines help fill our oceans with microplastics? What can be done to help stop washing machines contributing to the microplastics in our waterways? Which washing setting is best for your health? Cold and clean or warm and soapy? How did a normal washing machine cause havoc in a hospital? How can you multi-drug resistant pathogens spread through a washing machine? 


  1. American Society for Microbiology. (2019, September 27). Your energy-efficient washing machine could be harboring pathogens: Lower temperatures used in 'energy saver' washing machines may not be killing all pathogens. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 29, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190927135202.htm
  2. Max R. Kelly, Neil J. Lant, Martyn Kurr, J. Grant Burgess. Importance of Water-Volume on the Release of Microplastic Fibers from LaundryEnvironmental Science & Technology, 2019; DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b03022
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
June 24, 2019

Episode 332 - Affordable, smart and helpful prosthetics

Getting a prosthetic limb to feel natural and comfortable without spending a fortune is incredibly difficult. Plus the human body (and prosthetics) change over time. So how can you make a prosthetic better match it's user? We look at three stories of adaptive prosthetics and finding ways to make use of new technology to help improve lives. From building an elaborate treadmill contraption to hearing through your fingers.


When you stumble your brain goes into overdrive to keep you standing, but what exactly does it do? 


Affordable and comfortably fitting prosthetic limbs are especially important for children who grow out of them quickly. How can we make them more responsive?


Hearing words clearly in a noisy environment is especially hard on those with hearing aids. But can your fingers help out?


Vanderbilt University researchers built an elaborate treadmill to trip people, with the goal of helping advance prosthetic research. 


Using 3D scanning, printing and embedded sensors, researchers are making prosthetic better matched to their users.


People often say look with your eyes not your fingers, but can you use your fingers to hear as well?


Embedding sensors into 3D printed prosthetics can help adapt the design to better suit the actual wear and tear from the body. 


Using an elaborate tripping contraption on a treadmill, Vanderbilt university researchers hope to stop prosthetic leg users falling over. 


  1. Yuxin Tong, Ezgi Kucukdeger, Justin Halper, Ellen Cesewski, Elena Karakozoff, Alexander P. Haring, David McIlvain, Manjot Singh, Nikita Khandelwal, Alex Meholic, Sahil Laheri, Akshay Sharma, Blake N. Johnson. Low-cost sensor-integrated 3D-printed personalized prosthetic hands for children with amniotic band syndrome: A case study in sensing pressure distribution on an anatomical human-machine interface (AHMI) using 3D-printed conformal electrode arrays. PLOS ONE, 2019; 14 (3): e0214120 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0214120
  2. Shane T. King, Maura E. Eveld, Andrés Martínez, Karl E. Zelik, Michael Goldfarb. A novel system for introducing precisely-controlled, unanticipated gait perturbations for the study of stumble recovery. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 2019; 16 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s12984-019-0527-7
  3. Katarzyna Cieśla, Tomasz Wolak, Artur Lorens, Benedetta Heimler, Henryk Skarżyński, Amir Amedi. Immediate improvement of speech-in-noise perception through multisensory stimulation via an auditory to tactile sensory substitution. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, 2019; 37 (2): 155 DOI: 10.3233/RNN-190898
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
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?


  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