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Category: Science & Medicine

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.

May 13, 2019

Episode 326 - Capturing, reusing, recycling and cleaning water.

Water is essential for life, but we need to take care of the complete water cycle. Treating waste water can help remove harmful pollutants from cosmetics and medication. Industrial processes and landfill can also make super salty water, that we need to clean before releasing. Without good water management then we can end up without water in times of drought, and in times of flood more water than we can handle. This week we find out about ways to better manage the most precious of resources, water.


  1. Qian Yang, Bridget R Scanlon. How much water can be captured from flood flows to store in depleted aquifers for mitigating floods and droughts? A case study from Texas, US. Environmental Research Letters, 2019; 14 (5): 054011 DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/ab148e
  2. Rui Zhao, Tingting Ma, Shuying Li, Yuyang Tian, Guangshan Zhu. Porous Aromatic Framework Modified Electrospun Fiber Membrane as a Highly Efficient and Reusable Adsorbent for Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products Removal. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2019; 11 (18): 16662 DOI: 10.1021/acsami.9b04326
  3. Chanhee Boo, Robert K. Winton, Kelly M. Conway, Ngai Yin Yip. Membrane-less and Non-evaporative Desalination of Hypersaline Brines by Temperature Swing Solvent Extraction. Environmental Science & Technology Letters, 2019; DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.9b00182
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 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.
January 7, 2019

Episode 308 - Farewell to phantom limb pain, and better prostheses

 Having a traumatic injury, serious infection or cancer is bad enough let alone if you have to have an amputation. But once that amputation has occurred how do you make life easier for the amputee? Prostheses are helpful, but they can require retraining your brain and lack the sense of touch. Plus phantom limb pain can make life painful and frustrating. This week we find out about surgical and biomedical treatments to help improve prostheses and give amputees better quality of life.


  1. Bowen, J. B., Ruter, D., Wee, C., West, J., & Valerio, I. L. (2019). Targeted Muscle Reinnervation Technique in Below-Knee Amputation. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 143(1), 309-312. doi:10.1097/prs.0000000000005133
  2. Cheesborough, J., Smith, L., Kuiken, T., & Dumanian, G. (2015). Targeted Muscle Reinnervation and Advanced Prosthetic Arms. Seminars in Plastic Surgery, 29(01), 062-072. doi:10.1055/s-0035-1544166
  3. Nathanaël Jarrassé, Etienne de Montalivet, Florian Richer, Caroline Nicol, Amélie Touillet, Noël Martinet, Jean Paysant, Jozina B. de Graaf. Phantom-Mobility-Based Prosthesis Control in Transhumeral Amputees Without Surgical Reinnervation: A Preliminary Study. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, 2018; 6 DOI: 10.3389/fbioe.2018.00164
  4. Arizona State University. (2018, November 7). New prosthetic hand system allows user to 'feel' again: The Neural-Enabled Prosthetic Hand (NEPH) system marks first time bidirectional prosthesis can be used in home setting. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 5, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181107093757.htm
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
December 3, 2018

Episode 303 - The risks of life in the big city from insomnia to cardio-metabolic health

Life in the big city can be fully of late nights, lots of lights and risky behaviour. This week we look at what living in the big city may mean for your health. Whether it be the impact of light pollution and getting a good night's rest, to the trade-offs of being a night owl, our circadian rhythms can be impacted by living a 24/7 life. We find out about studies on big data about a cities health, from a long term study of insomniacs in South Korea to using social media to determine when a city is 'feeling lucky' and willing to take a risk.


  1. Jin-young Min, Kyoung-bok Min. Outdoor Artificial Nighttime Light and Use of Hypnotic Medications in Older Adults: A Population-Based Cohort Study. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 2018; 14 (11): 1903 DOI: 10.5664/jcsm.7490
  2. Suzana Almoosawi Snieguole Vingeliene Frederic Gachon Trudy Voortman Luigi Palla Jonathan D Johnston Rob Martinus Van Dam Christian Darimont Leonidas G Karagounis. Chronotype: Implications for Epidemiologic Studies on Chrono-Nutrition and Cardiometabolic Health. Advances in Nutrition, 2018 DOI: 10.1093/advances/nmy070
  3. A. Ross Otto, Johannes C. Eichstaedt. Real-world unexpected outcomes predict city-level mood states and risk-taking behavior. PLOS ONE, 2018; 13 (11): e0206923 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0206923
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
August 20, 2018

Episode 288 - Tackling Fatbergs, Recycling Li-On_batteries and new uses for cooking oil

Keeping the world clean is a tricky job. You have to fight fatbergs, recycle large amounts of mess and even keep tanks of food clean. Fortunately material scientists keep inventing new methods, and re-applying old ones to help improve our planet. From using old mining techniques to recycle lithium ion batteries, to using oils to keep food equipment clean, plus tacking the monsters of the sewer - fatbergs.



  1. Ruiting Zhan, Zachary Oldenburg, Lei Pan. Recovery of active cathode materials from lithium-ion batteries using froth flotation. Sustainable Materials and Technologies, 2018; 17: e00062 DOI: 10.1016/j.susmat.2018.e00062
  2. Tarek S. Awad, Dalal Asker, Benjamin D. Hatton. Food-Safe Modification of Stainless Steel Food-Processing Surfaces to Reduce Bacterial Biofilms. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2018; 10 (27): 22902 DOI: 10.1021/acsami.8b03788
  3. Asha Srinivasan, Moutoshi Saha, Kit Caufield, Otman Abida, Ping Huang Liao, Kwang Victor Lo. Microwave-Enhanced Advanced Oxidation Treatment of Lipids and Food Wastes. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, 2018; 229 (7) DOI: 10.1007/s11270-018-3894-y
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. 


  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].
July 23, 2018

Episode 284 - Solar panels that work in the shade, using coal waste and greener concrete

Solar Panels keep getting better, but what if we could have solar power even when it's very overcast? Plus is there a way to make concrete greener and less carbon intensive? What if one of those solutions also helped take care of waste product from Coal Power Plants? We look at innovative green technologies this week in Lagrange Point. 

  1. Joshua Shank, Emil A. Kadlec, Robert L. Jarecki, Andrew Starbuck, Stephen Howell, David W. Peters, Paul S. Davids. Power Generation from a Radiative Thermal Source Using a Large-Area Infrared RectennaPhysical Review Applied, 2018; 9 (5) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevApplied.9.054040
  2. Sarvesh Kumar Srivastava, Przemyslaw Piwek, Sonal R. Ayakar, Arman Bonakdarpour, David P. Wilkinson, Vikramaditya G. Yadav. A Biogenic Photovoltaic MaterialSmall, 2018; 14 (26): 1800729 DOI: 10.1002/smll.201800729
  3. Gang Xu, Jing Zhong, Xianming Shi. Influence of graphene oxide in a chemically activated fly ashFuel, 2018; 226: 644 DOI: 10.1016/j.fuel.2018.04.033
  4. Sung Hoon Hwang, Rouzbeh Shahsavari. High calcium cementless fly ash binder with low environmental footprint: Optimum Taguchi designJournal of the American Ceramic Society, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/jace.15873
June 11, 2018

Episode 278 - Lasers combs for wifi and detecting smells

Everyone loves lasers! From science fiction to the military and even scientists in labs. This week we look at using lasers to solve some unusual problems. From something deceptively simple as how to describe a smell to the complexities of better data transmission over WiFi.

  1. Sarah K. Scholten, Christopher Perrella, James D. Anstie, Richard T. White, Waddah Al-Ashwal, Nicolas Bourbeau Hébert, Jérôme Genest, Andre N. Luiten. Number-Density Measurements of CO2 in Real Time with an Optical Frequency Comb for High Accuracy and Precision. Physical Review Applied, 2018; 9 (5) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevApplied.9.054043
  2. Marco Piccardo, Dmitry Kazakov, Noah A. Rubin, Paul Chevalier, Yongrui Wang, Feng Xie, Kevin Lascola, Alexey Belyanin, Federico Capasso. Time-dependent population inversion gratings in laser frequency combs. Optica, 2018; 5 (4): 475 DOI: 10.1364/OPTICA.5.000475
  3. Image: Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) frequency comb, : Baxley/JILA, 2012, www.nist.gov/pml/div689/euv_comb.cfm
April 2, 2018

Episode 268 - Farewell Tiangong 1, space stations and managing space debris

We say farewell to Tiangong-1 ("Heavenly place 1"), China's first foray into space stations as it comes crashing to earth and we look forward into the future for space station development. We also find out how scientists across the world plan to tackle the problem of space junk and keep space safe for years to come

January 29, 2018

Episode 259 - Quantum Computing - Australian of the Year - Prof Michelle Simmons

We celebrate the Australian of Year for 2017, Professor Michelle Yvonne Simmons, by examining the groundbreaking work in Quantum Computing that she has pioneered across Australia. This includes a deep dive into how Quantum Computing works, what it can help with and what makes the Australia approach, led by Prof. Simmons, so special. ​ ​

January 22, 2018

Episode 258 - Australian biomedical science from labs on a chip to stopping biofilms

We find out about some amazing Australian biotechnology inventions from an efficient lab-on-a-chip, to boosting our immune systems and stopping bio-films in their tracks.

January 1, 2018

Episode 255 - Taking the pain out of needles

Taking the pain out of injections and needles by using micro-needle patches. This can help deliver flu vaccines and help diabetics without the need for painful injections.

November 13, 2017

Episode 248 - Printing with more colours of the rainbow, solar panel printing and hidden messages

How can we make printers more realistic and life like? How can we push the limits of printing and make hidden messages cheaply and efficiently? How do we turn printed advertisements into productive energy efficient solar cells?

November 6, 2017

Episode 247 - New techniques for non invasive imaging

How can we improve our medical imaging technology? What can be used to scan bacteria in action without a biopsy? What about ways to known what needs fixing in an emergency department without having to go all the way to an MRI?