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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.

October 8, 2018

Episode 295 - Powerful and precise Lasers - Nobel Prize in Physics ‘18


Laser are used in some many things around us from computer storage, discs, communication, medical scanning and even laser surgery. Turning lasers from an expensive tool in the exclusive hands of large laboratories to something people all over the world can simply and easily use required groundbreaking physics. As did turning a laser into a pair of precise tweezers. For that groundbreaking research Arthur Ashkin, Gerad Morou and Donna Strickland won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2018. We find out about lasers, how they're used and how they were made powerful and precise.


  1. Ashkin, A. (1997) Optical trapping and manipulation of neutral particles using lasers,
    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, Vol. 94, pp. 4853–4860
  2. Strickland, D. and Mourou, G. (1985) Compression of Amplified Chirped Optical Pulses,
    Optics Communications , Vol. 56, Nr 3
  3. How Lasers Work. (2018). Retrieved from https://lasers.llnl.gov/education/how_lasers_work
  4. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, The Nobel Committee for Physics. (2018, October). Tools made of light [Press release]. Retrieved from https://www.nobelprize.org/uploads/2018/10/popular-physicsprize2018.pdf
  5. Image Credit: Baxley/JILA, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) frequency comb, 2012
September 24, 2018

Episode 293 - Finding a fly in you drink, plus placebos on the brain - Ignobel Prize ‘18 Part 2


Can a single fly ruin a drink? How long does the fly even need to be in there to destroy the quality and taste? How does a fly even manage to ruin your sense of taste? These important questions were answered by the winners of the Ignobel Prize 2018 in Biology. 

Does having a more expensive label on something make it feel 'better' to eat, drink or use? What's going on in our brain when the "Label Placebo" effect takes hold? If you're an expert are you more easily swayed by the placebo than a regular person?

  1. "The Scent of the Fly," Paul G. Becher, Sebastien Lebreton, Erika A. Wallin, Erik Hedenstrom, Felipe Borrero-Echeverry, Marie Bengtsson, Volker Jorger, and Peter Witzgall, bioRxiv, no. 20637, 2017.
  2. Marketing actions can modulate neural representations of experienced pleasantness, Hilke Plassmann, John O'Doherty, Baba Shiv, Antonio Rangel, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Jan 2008, 105 (3) 1050-1054; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0706929105
  3. Goldstein, R., Almenberg, J., Dreber, A., Emerson, J., Herschkowitsch, A. and Katz, J. (2008). Do More Expensive Wines Taste Better? Evidence from a Large Sample of Blind Tastings. Journal of Wine Economics, 3(01), pp.1-9.
  4. Liane Schmidt, Vasilisa Skvortsova, Claus Kullen, Bernd Weber, Hilke Plassmann. How context alters value: The brain’s valuation and affective regulation system link price cues to experienced taste pleasantnessScientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-08080-0
  5. Trei, L. (2018). Price changes way people experience wine, study finds. [online] Stanford University. Available at: https://news.stanford.edu/news/2008/january16/wine-011608.html [Accessed 15 Sep. 2018].
August 28, 2017

Episode 237


How can we protect species from extinction? What can the Dodo and other extinctions on islands teach us about protecting species today?

August 7, 2017

Episode 234 - Preparing experiments for the Total Eclipse


North America gears up for a solar eclipse by planning a myriad of experiments, from telescopes on jets to analysing mountains on the moon. We find out about the experiments planned for this once in a generation event.

July 31, 2017

Episode 233 - Turning food waste into bioplastics, cleaning agents and smog reducers.


How can we reduce food waste and turn it into bioplastics and cleaning agents. Plus the benefits of using bio-char to help improve crops and clean the air from smog.

July 24, 2017

Episode 232 - The microbiome and how it can identify, protect and serve


Your own unique microbiome protects and serves you. We find out more this week.

July 17, 2017

Episode 231 - Great Red Spot Photos, Life-killers on Mars and keeping spaceships clean


We get a new look at Jupiter's Great Red Spot. Plus we find out how deadly other planets can be for bacteria but how spaceships can help bacteria and fungi thrive.

July 10, 2017

Episode 230 - an energy crisis, a storm and a tech entrepreneur


An energy crisis, a storm and a tech entrepreneur walked into South Australia and ended up with a giant battery. We investigate the context, other generation technology and the future of renewables.

July 3, 2017

Episode 229 - More realistic ways to test nanomedicine and tests for cancer treatment effectiveness


How can we make our lab tests of new drugs more realistic to shorten the time to human trials? Plus how can we better test for cancer treatment effectiveness using liquid biopsies?

June 26, 2017

Episode 228 - Self Assembling particles, Hydrogen Fuel Cells from Paint and Efficient Desal.


Making particles self assemble using sound ways, hydrogen fuel cells just by painting houses and a simpler way to desalinate water.

June 19, 2017

Episode 227 - Understanding DNA structure, plus a shovel full of new bacteria


Understanding the structure of DNA, how it shields DNA from mutation and helps messages spread quickly across the jumbled mess. Plus a shovel full of 1000s of new bacteria have their genomes sequences and released into the world.

June 12, 2017

Episode 226 - New Materials to clean oil from water, and making batteries from rusting steel


New Materials to help separate oil from water using magnets and nano particles. Plus making cheaper and more efficient batteries from recycling rusting steel.

June 5, 2017

Episode 225 - Another LIGO discovery, hungry black holes, neutron star based GPS for space travel


We find out what the latest LIGO discovery means for gravitational waves and black holes. Plus finding out why black holes grew so quickly and a new observatory for Neutron Stars.

May 29, 2017

Episode 224 - Tree climbing goats, multi-headed regeneration and a T-rex in Singapore


Why do farmers help goats climb trees? Where was a living T-Rex hiding in Singapore? Regenerating limbs is cool but how do we change the plans and say grow even more heads?

May 22, 2017

Episode 223 - Materials that repel water, reduce sweat and make flexible circuits


Making outfits that breath and prevent sweating using living cells. Plus we find out about materials that shed their waterproof skin like a snake and printing flexible circuits.

May 15, 2017

Episode 222 - Finding new ways to help people with Asthma, plus regenerating the sense of smell


Does anyone know how to recover a lost sense of smell? What are the best ways to treat and reduce the symptoms of asthma? What other methods can we use to treat asthma that don't rely on steroids?

May 8, 2017

Episode 221 - Scorpion sea monsters, origins of mandibles and extracting dinosaur proteins


Sea-scorpions ruled the ancient oceans with a slicing tails. Finding the origin of the evolutionary success story of mandibles. Forget extracting DNA from dinosaur fossils, we learn of a new method using proteins to reconstruct the past.

May 1, 2017

Episode 220 - Cassini’s long goodbye, Bubbling lakes on Titan and Rings in a centaur


The long goodbye to Cassini will include close encounters of a ring kind. Plus what we can learn from Oil and Gas about the bubbling lakes of Titan. As well as the tiniest ringed object in our solar system - a centaur.

April 24, 2017

Episode 219 - The state of our reefs and lakes from Aus to Japan and the USA


What is the state of our marine ecosystems from Australia through to Japan and the Great lakes in the USA? What is happening to the Great Barrier Reef and what can we learn from islands near Japan on the future of our reef? Plus how does salting our roads impact the Great Lakes.

April 17, 2017

Episode 218 - When are you the most random Plus biases lurking in the algorithm


When are you at your most random? How do we measure random and what does it really mean to be random? Plus how underlying biases in data set can propagate through algorithms and the apps in our everyday lives.