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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.

July 22, 2019

Episode 336 - Life frozen in time inside extreme ice

Ice can be refreshing and cooling, but it can also be used to preserve life. Sometimes for strangely long periods of time. So just how do you make extreme forms of ice? From 'warm ice that doesn't ruin your frozen food, to controlled ice that helps planes fly. Sometimes you can even use a diamond to make some super controlled ice. Ice can harbour life even in some extreme conditions like the frozen and UV radiated Andes. Buried in Alaska is a bacterial community frozen in time. For 50,000 years bacteria have been thriving beneath layers of frozen tundra. 




  1. Yong-Jae Kim, Yun-Hee Lee, Sooheyong Lee, Hiroki Nada, Geun Woo Lee. Shock growth of ice crystal near equilibrium melting pressure under dynamic compression. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019; 116 (18): 8679 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1818122116
  2. Lara Vimercati, Adam J. Solon, Alexandra Krinsky, Pablo Arán, Dorota L. Porazinska, John L. Darcy, Cristina Dorador, Steven K. Schmidt. Nieves penitentes are a new habitat for snow algae in one of the most extreme high-elevation environments on Earth. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, 2019; 51 (1): 190 DOI: 10.1080/15230430.2019.1618115
  3. University of Washington. (2019, July 12). Super salty, subzero Arctic water provides peek at possible life on other planets. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 13, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/07/190712105707.htm


April 8, 2019

Lagrange Point Episode 321 - Bacterial search engine, blending in with hosts

Bacteria are all around us and inside our guts too. Yet despite this there is still so much we do not know about them. We keep discovering new types, new species and then they change the game by blending into hosts and having new side effects. We look at how microbial infections disguise themselves to blend in, how fungal infections deactivate alarm systems, and just how many unknown bacteria there are in your gut. We also find out about ways to tackle our lack of knowledge with bacterial search engines.

  1. Alexandre Almeida, Alex L. Mitchell, Miguel Boland, Samuel C. Forster, Gregory B. Gloor, Aleksandra Tarkowska, Trevor D. Lawley, Robert D. Finn. A new genomic blueprint of the human gut microbiotaNature, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-0965-1
  2. Iratxe Estibariz, Annemarie Overmann, Florent Ailloud, Juliane Krebes, Christine Josenhans, Sebastian Suerbaum. The core genome m5C methyltransferase JHP1050 (M.Hpy99III) plays an important role in orchestrating gene expression in Helicobacter pyloriNucleic Acids Research, 2019; DOI: 10.1093/nar/gky1307
  3. Koenig S et al. Gliotoxin from Aspergillus fumigatus Abrogates Leukotriene B4 Formation through Inhibition of Leukotriene A4 HydrolaseCell Chemical Biology, 2019 DOI: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2019.01.001
  4. Phelim Bradley, Henk C. den Bakker, Eduardo P. C. Rocha, Gil McVean, Zamin Iqbal. Ultrafast search of all deposited bacterial and viral genomic dataNature Biotechnology, 2019; 37 (2): 152 DOI: 10.1038/s41587-018-0010-1
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.