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3Episodes
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.

June 4, 2018

Episode 277 - Breaking down the brain and figuring out how the pieces work

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Our brains are incredibly complex machines, running millions of calculations in no time at all. But how do these fantastic circuits work? If you follow AI and computer science you may have heard of a ''neural net'' style program which mimics how the brain learns, but really, how do the messages get passed between neurons along such networks? Does shape matter? Can we study individual pathways? What happens if you try and pulse the brain to give it a boost? We find out about neurons, their networks and more.

 

References:

  1. Shotaro Yoshida, Midori Kato-Negishi, Shoji Takeuchi. Assembly and Connection of Micropatterned Single Neurons for Neuronal Network FormationMicromachines, 2018; 9 (5): 235 DOI: 10.3390/mi9050235
  2. Fong Kuan Wong, Kinga Bercsenyi, Varun Sreenivasan, Adrián Portalés, Marian Fernández-Otero, Oscar Marín. Pyramidal cell regulation of interneuron survival sculpts cortical networksNature, 2018; 557 (7707): 668 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0139-6
  3. Nicole C Swann, Coralie de Hemptinne, Margaret C Thompson, Svjetlana Miocinovic, Andrew M Miller, Ro’ee Gilron, Jill L Ostrem, Howard J Chizeck, Philip A Starr. Adaptive deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease using motor cortex sensingJournal of Neural Engineering, 2018; 15 (4): 046006 DOI: 10.1088/1741-2552/aabc9b
May 27, 2018

Episode 276 - Hunting for gamma rays

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Gamma rays are a mainstay of science fiction, but hunting for these elusive events is a lot easier with the right tools. We find out about two ingenious ways to hunt for gamma rays including flying into a cyclone, using satellites and even a telescope the size of New York.

References:

  1. G. S. Bowers, D. M. Smith, N. A. Kelley, G. F. Martinez-McKinney, S. A. Cummer, J. R. Dwyer, S. Heckman, R. H. Holzworth, F. Marks, P. Reasor, J. Gamache, J. Dunion, T. Richards, H. K. Rassoul. A Terrestrial Gamma-Ray Flash inside the Eyewall of Hurricane Patricia. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 2018; DOI: 10.1029/2017JD027771
  2. R. U. Abbasi, T. Abu-Zayyad, E. Barcikowski, J. W. Belz, D. R. Bergman, S. A. Blake, M. Byrne, et al. Gamma-ray Showers Observed at Ground Level in Coincidence With Downward Lightning Leaders. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 2018; DOI: 10.1029/2017JD027931
May 20, 2018

Episode 275 - Protecting biodiversity and ecosystems in flux

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Protecting biodiversity is important, but how well have we protected our critical zones over the past 25 years? Are predators invading human spaces or are they just reclaiming their old territory? What about places where the predator / prey balance is out of whack? We dive into biodiverse ecosystems across the world. 

References:

  1. Kendall R. Jones, Oscar Venter, Richard A. Fuller, James R. Allan, Sean L. Maxwell, Pablo Jose Negret, James E. M. Watson. One-third of global protected land is under intense human pressure. Science, 2018; 360 (6390): 788 DOI: 10.1126/science.aap9565

  2. Brian R. Silliman, Brent B. Hughes, Lindsay C. Gaskins, Qiang He, M. Tim Tinker, Andrew Read, James Nifong and Rick Stepp. Are the Ghosts of Nature's Past Haunting Ecology Today? Current Biology, 2018 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.002

  3. Michigan Technological University. (2018, May 17). After 60 years, Isle Royale continues world's longest predator-prey study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 19, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180517102304.htm

May 14, 2018

Episode 274 - Micro plastics in the rivers, oceans and soil

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With Kilauea erupting, we look at the science of volcanoes and how we can keep better tabs on these rumbling giants of geology. From infra-sound monitoring, to tracking disappearing lava lakes.

References:

  1. K. J. Stephens, C. Wauthier. Satellite Geodesy Captures Offset Magma Supply Associated With Lava Lake Appearance at Masaya Volcano, Nicaragua. Geophysical Research Letters, 2018; DOI: 10.1002/2017GL076769
  2. Robin S. Matoza, David Fee, David Green, Alexis Le Pichon, Julien Vergoz, Matthew M. Haney, T. Dylan Mikesell, Luis Franco, O. Alberto Valderrama, Megan R. Kelley, Kathleen McKee, Lars Ceranna. Local, regional, and remote seismo-acoustic observations of the April 2015 VEI 4 eruption of Calbuco volcano, Chile. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 2018; DOI: 10.1002/2017JB015182
  3. Teresa Ubide, Balz S. Kamber. Volcanic crystals as time capsules of eruption history. Nature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-02274-w
May 7, 2018

Episode 273 - Volcanoes across the world - keeping track of potential disasters

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With Kilauea erupting, we look at the science of volcanoes and how we can keep better tabs on these rumbling giants of geology. From infra-sound monitoring, to tracking disappearing lava lakes.

April 30, 2018

Episode 272 - Better Zika virus treatments and making it work for us

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We check in on the latest research into the Zika Virus. How have our efforts to detect and treat this virus progressed since the outbreak of 2015/16? Are there new and novel ways of tackling Zika (and other mosquito born viruses) and can we make the Zika Virus work for us rather than against us?

April 23, 2018

Episode 271 - Cleaning up our own mess - innovative new recycling methods

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Now that China has banned importing rubbish, we really have to find innovative new ways to clean up our mess. We look at new solutions from dissolving plastic in enzymes, to making new steel from scrap cars to zero-waste phones.

April 16, 2018

Episode 270 - Heart racing sport, slowing aging and detecting doping

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Is watching a sporting event hard work for your heart? Can you slow down ageing...by skiing? What is the state of the arms race between Doping Athletes and Governing bodies across the globe? Can we measure the effectiveness of the testing procedures of groups like WADA? We find out about some odd, but thought provoking research into sport science.

April 9, 2018

Episode 269 - Finding their way through the magnetosphere with quantum mechanics and chemistry

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How do animals from bacteria to birds manage to use the Earth's magetnic field to navigate? Do we know how or why? What potential mechanisms are out there and how does quantum mechanics get involved?

April 2, 2018

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

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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

March 26, 2018

Episode 267 - Water, water everywhere, make it safe to drink

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Making water safe to drink is a problem for the largest cities all the way down to the most remote of communities. We look at the challenges to making water safe to drink, and some innovative new research looking to make it easier to obtain safe drinking water.

March 19, 2018

Episode 266 - Strange ways of fighting antibacterial resistance from platypus milk to cooking an egg

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This week we find out some strange and new ways scientists are hunting for a new weapons in the antimicrobial resistance arms race. Including turning to platypus milk for guidance, cooking the insides of bacteria like an egg and blocking it from even spreading. Plus we get an update on Mammal March Madness.

March 12, 2018

Episode 265 -March Mammal Madness preview, uncovering Tardigrades and the history of lungs

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It's time for March Mammal Madness 2018, where the greatest mammals from the past and the future face off against each other in performance science battles. Although this year it also features creatures from the past (Antecessors) and even some alt!mammals! This week we preview the tournament, along with checking out some latest scientific research form across the world on some of the competitors like the Tardigrades along with finding out about the development of that mammalian trait that helped us breath better.

March 5, 2018

Episode 264 - Peering back in time to light from the first stars

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How do you peer back in time to see the light from the first stars? Well the EDGES team did just that and may have unlocked not one but two different secrets to the early universe.

February 26, 2018

Episode 263 -The science of marginal gains at the Winter Olympics

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Did the science of marginal gains help athletes win gold at the Olympics? Now that the Olympics are over, we dig into the science behind the events, and how the athletes edged out their competition using scientific innovations.

February 19, 2018

Episode 262 -Biomaterials saving lives from spider silk cardiac tissue to sticky when wet bandages

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How can we make wounds close and heal by sticking together better? Is there some kind of super strong glues that can help stick even when wet? What can we learn from spiders to help heal a broken heart? All these bio materials and more in this week's episode.

February 12, 2018

Episode 261 - Stopping unwanted Life on Mars

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How do we protect find and protect life across the universe from ourselves? What are the risks and dangers of sending bacteria out into the universe, and how can we prevent unwanted contamination.

February 5, 2018

Episode 260 - A glimpse of our future from the tropical rain forests and jungles

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Life in a tropical jungle or rain forest provide a window into the future, particularly for Climate Scientists. We look into the impact of a warming climate on biodiversity plus keeping the delicate balance between agricultural land and dangerous deforestation.

January 29, 2018

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

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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

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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.