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443Episodes
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 26, 2021

Episode 441 - Augmenting the human body to keep it safe

Using technology and tools to make the human body safer. How can we use exoskeletons to keep people safe? Does using a tool like an exoskeleton automatically make a task easier? How can technology that augments bodys hinder when trying to help? How can we keep our head safer during a collision. Countless people rely on bicycles for safe and green transport, but how do we make it safer? Bicycle helmets are a simple tool for helping save lives, but can they be made even safer with new materials? 

  1. Yibo Zhu, Eric B. Weston, Ranjana K. Mehta, William S. Marras. Neural and biomechanical tradeoffs associated with human-exoskeleton interactions. Applied Ergonomics, 2021; 96: 103494 DOI: 10.1016/j.apergo.2021.103494
  2. Karl A Zimmerman, Etienne Laverse, Ravjeet Samra, Maria Yanez Lopez, Amy E Jolly, Niall J Bourke, Neil S N Graham, Maneesh C Patel, John Hardy, Simon Kemp, Huw R Morris, David J Sharp. White matter abnormalities in active elite adult rugby players. Brain Communications, 2021; 3 (3) DOI: 10.1093/braincomms/fcab133
July 19, 2021

Episode 440 - Turning off plants with a switch of a light

Turning off plants with a switch of a light. How can optogenetics be used to turn off photosynthesis. Stomata cells help a plant from feasting too much in times of famine. Stomata cells regulate how much photosynthesis plants undertake, but can they be regulated with light? How can Yeast be used to help plants fight back against fungus. Fungal infections can devastate crops and plants, but can we avoid dangerous fungicides? How can we protect plants from, fungi without damaging the environment? Can yeast grown proteins help stop fungal infections without killing all fungi?

  1. Tiffany Chiu, Anita Behari, Justin W. Chartron, Alexander Putman, Yanran Li. Exploring the potential of engineering polygalacturonase‐inhibiting protein as an ecological, friendly, and nontoxic pest control agent. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 2021; DOI: 10.1002/bit.27845
  2. Shouguang Huang, Meiqi Ding, M. Rob G. Roelfsema, Ingo Dreyer, Sönke Scherzer, Khaled A. S. Al-Rasheid, Shiqiang Gao, Georg Nagel, Rainer Hedrich, Kai R. Konrad. Optogenetic control of the guard cell membrane potential and stomatal movement by the light-gated anion channel GtACR1Science Advances, 2021; 7 (28): eabg4619 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abg4619
July 12, 2021

Episode 439 - The journey of humanity and its closet cousins

What separates Homo Sapiens from our closest cousins? How do we piece together the journey of Homo Sapiens across the world? Neanderthals were capable of much more than what stereotypes suggest. How did Neanderthals produce complex art? How did Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens intermix? Was there a linking population that helped spread Homo Sapiens genes into Neanderthals long before mass migration? Neanderthals are often thought of as Europe based, but was there a larger progenitor population in the Levant?

  1. Mooallem, J. (2021). The Sunday Read: ‘Neanderthals Were People, Too’. Retrieved 11 July 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/23/podcasts/the-daily/neanderthals-were-people-too.html
  2. Dirk Leder, Raphael Hermann, Matthias Hüls, Gabriele Russo, Philipp Hoelzmann, Ralf Nielbock, Utz Böhner, Jens Lehmann, Michael Meier, Antje Schwalb, Andrea Tröller-Reimer, Tim Koddenberg, Thomas Terberger. A 51,000-year-old engraved bone reveals Neanderthals’ capacity for symbolic behaviourNature Ecology & Evolution, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41559-021-01487-z
  3. Israel Hershkovitz, Hila May, Rachel Sarig, Ariel Pokhojaev, Dominique Grimaud-Hervé, Emiliano Bruner, Cinzia Fornai, Rolf Quam, Juan Luis Arsuaga, Viktoria A. Krenn, Maria Martinón-Torres, José María Bermúdez De Castro, Laura Martín-Francés, Viviane Slon, Lou Albessard-Ball, Amélie Vialet, Tim Schüler, Giorgio Manzi, Antonio Profico, Fabio Di Vincenzo, Gerhard W. Weber, Yossi Zaidner. A Middle Pleistocene Homo from Nesher Ramla, IsraelScience, 2021; 372 (6549): 1424-1428 DOI: 10.1126/science.abh3169
  4. Yossi Zaidner, Laura Centi, Marion Prévost, Norbert Mercier, Christophe Falguères, Gilles Guérin, Hélène Valladas, Maïlys Richard, Asmodée Galy, Christophe Pécheyran, Olivier Tombret, Edwige Pons-Branchu, Naomi Porat, Ruth Shahack-Gross, David E. Friesem, Reuven Yeshurun, Zohar Turgeman-Yaffe, Amos Frumkin, Gadi Herzlinger, Ravid Ekshtain, Maayan Shemer, Oz Varoner, Rachel Sarig, Hila May, Israel Hershkovitz. Middle Pleistocene Homo behavior and culture at 140,000 to 120,000 years ago and interactions with Homo sapiensScience, 2021; 372 (6549): 1429-1433 DOI: 10.1126/science.abh3020
  5. Marta Mirazón Lahr. The complex landscape of recent human evolutionScience, 2021; 372 (6549): 1395-1396 DOI: 10.1126/science.abj3077
July 5, 2021

Episode 438 - Super fast and dense White Dwarfs and odd Supernova

What happens at the end of a star's life if it doesn't go out with a bang? White dwarfs are the end stage for 97% of stars, but can they still go 'nova? What happens if two white dwarf stars merge together? Rotating once every 7 minutes with a magnetic field billions times stronger than the Sun, super dense white dwarfs break all the records. There are many types of supernova, but which one happened at the Crab Nebula in 1054? What happens if a star isn't quite heavy enough to have an iron core supernova? Electrons are so tiny compared to a supergiant star, but if they're taken away it can lead to a supernova.

  1. Caiazzo, I., Burdge, K.B., Fuller, J. et al. A highly magnetized and rapidly rotating white dwarf as small as the MoonNature, 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03615-y
  2. Daichi Hiramatsu, D. Andrew Howell, Schuyler D. Van Dyk, Jared A. Goldberg, Keiichi Maeda, Takashi J. Moriya, Nozomu Tominaga, Ken’ichi Nomoto, Griffin Hosseinzadeh, Iair Arcavi, Curtis McCully, Jamison Burke, K. Azalee Bostroem, Stefano Valenti, Yize Dong, Peter J. Brown, Jennifer E. Andrews, Christopher Bilinski, G. Grant Williams, Paul S. Smith, Nathan Smith, David J. Sand, Gagandeep S. Anand, Chengyuan Xu, Alexei V. Filippenko, Melina C. Bersten, Gastón Folatelli, Patrick L. Kelly, Toshihide Noguchi, Koichi Itagaki. The electron-capture origin of supernova 2018zdNature Astronomy, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-021-01384-2
June 28, 2021

Episode 437 - Dark Fish hiding in the ocean depths

Squeezing and grinding to create next generation materials from humble beginnings. Changing magnetic field by changing shape could open the door for more efficient computers. Magnetostriction causes that 'hum' you hear from electronics but it can be harnessed for good. Large electrical devices like transformers or fluorescent tubes shape influences their magnetic field. The next generation of computers may harness the way magnetic fields and physical shape can be linked. Forget rare earth metals, there is a more efficient way to make high powered computer chips out of humble iron and gallium. Luminescent polymers can be found in fancy OLED screens but are complex to produce. How can you make fancy luminescent polymers from generic polymers? By grinding them. A unique way of grinding and rolling basic generic polymers could create powerful luminescent polymers for use in high end screens, lasers and bioimaging.

  1. P. B. Meisenheimer, R. A. Steinhardt, S. H. Sung, L. D. Williams, S. Zhuang, M. E. Nowakowski, S. Novakov, M. M. Torunbalci, B. Prasad, C. J. Zollner, Z. Wang, N. M. Dawley, J. Schubert, A. H. Hunter, S. Manipatruni, D. E. Nikonov, I. A. Young, L. Q. Chen, J. Bokor, S. A. Bhave, R. Ramesh, J.-M. Hu, E. Kioupakis, R. Hovden, D. G. Schlom, J. T. Heron. Engineering new limits to magnetostriction through metastability in iron-gallium alloys. Nature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-22793-x
  2. Koji Kubota, Naoki Toyoshima, Daiyo Miura, Julong Jiang, Satoshi Maeda, Mingoo Jin, Hajime Ito. Introduction of a Luminophore into Generic Polymers via Mechanoradical Coupling with a Prefluorescent Reagent. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2021; DOI: 10.1002/anie.202105381
June 21, 2021

Episode 436 - Squeezing and grinding to create next generation materials from humble begingings

Squeezing and grinding to create next generation materials from humble beginnings. Changing magnetic field by changing shape could open the door for more efficient computers. Magnetostriction causes that 'hum' you hear from electronics but it can be harnessed for good. Large electrical devices like transformers or fluorescent tubes shape influences their magnetic field. The next generation of computers may harness the way magnetic fields and physical shape can be linked. Forget rare earth metals, there is a more efficient way to make high powered computer chips out of humble iron and gallium. Luminescent polymers can be found in fancy OLED screens but are complex to produce. How can you make fancy luminescent polymers from generic polymers? By grinding them. A unique way of grinding and rolling basic generic polymers could create powerful luminescent polymers for use in high end screens, lasers and bio-imaging.

  1. P. B. Meisenheimer, R. A. Steinhardt, S. H. Sung, L. D. Williams, S. Zhuang, M. E. Nowakowski, S. Novakov, M. M. Torunbalci, B. Prasad, C. J. Zollner, Z. Wang, N. M. Dawley, J. Schubert, A. H. Hunter, S. Manipatruni, D. E. Nikonov, I. A. Young, L. Q. Chen, J. Bokor, S. A. Bhave, R. Ramesh, J.-M. Hu, E. Kioupakis, R. Hovden, D. G. Schlom, J. T. Heron. Engineering new limits to magnetostriction through metastability in iron-gallium alloys. Nature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-22793-x
  2. Koji Kubota, Naoki Toyoshima, Daiyo Miura, Julong Jiang, Satoshi Maeda, Mingoo Jin, Hajime Ito. Introduction of a Luminophore into Generic Polymers via Mechanoradical Coupling with a Prefluorescent Reagent. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2021; DOI: 10.1002/anie.202105381
June 14, 2021

Episode 435 - Cold war secrets and reanimating frozen life

Cold war secrets buried deep in the ice and forgotten, plus reanimating frozen life from Siberia. How could some frozen dirt, forgotten in a freezer for decades help us understand a future of rising sea levels? Greenland's name was a marketing stunt by Erik the Red, but it was once truly covered in greenery. Although Greenland is so close to the North Pole, all it's thick sheets of ice have completely melted (geologically) recently. How did scientists reanimate ancient animals buried in the Siberian Tundra? Rotifers can live in some unusual places, but they can also survive being frozen and brought back to life. Ancient animals have been 'unfrozen' and brought back to life though they are very small.

  1. Lyubov Shmakova, Stas Malavin, Nataliia Iakovenko, Tatiana Vishnivetskaya, Daniel Shain, Michael Plewka, Elizaveta Rivkina. A living bdelloid rotifer from 24,000-year-old Arctic permafrost. Current Biology, 2021; 31 (11): R712 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.04.077
  2. Baqai, A., Guruswamy, V., Liu, J., & Rizki, G. (2000). Introduction to the Rotifera. Retrieved 10 June 2021, from https://ucmp.berkeley.edu/phyla/rotifera/rotifera.html
  3. Andrew J. Christ, Paul R. Bierman, Joerg M. Schaefer, Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, Jørgen P. Steffensen, Lee B. Corbett, Dorothy M. Peteet, Elizabeth K. Thomas, Eric J. Steig, Tammy M. Rittenour, Jean-Louis Tison, Pierre-Henri Blard, Nicolas Perdrial, David P. Dethier, Andrea Lini, Alan J. Hidy, Marc W. Caffee, John Southon. A multimillion-year-old record of Greenland vegetation and glacial history preserved in sediment beneath 1.4 km of ice at Camp Century. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (13): e2021442118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2021442118
June 7, 2021

Episode 434 - Parasites and Symbiotic relationships

Insects and plants are locked into an arms race until something breaks the stalemate. How can a tag team attack of bacteria and insect larvae help crush through a leaf's defenses? WOrkign together as a team, larvae and bacteria can make a tasty meal out of a leaf. Plants can fight back against insets, so insects need to call out for help. A parasitic infection is bad for the host, but some ants gain an odd boost. How are tapeworms boosting the life expectancy of ants? When an ant gets infected with parasites, it's colony mates care for it boosting it's lifespan.

  1. Yukiyo Yamasaki, Hiroka Sumioka, Mayu Takiguchi, Takuya Uemura, Yuka Kihara, Tomonori Shinya, Ivan Galis, Gen‐ichiro Arimura. Phytohormone‐dependent plant defense signaling orchestrated by oral bacteria of the herbivore Spodoptera lituraNew Phytologist, 2021; DOI: 10.1111/nph.17444
  2. Sara Beros, Anna Lenhart, Inon Scharf, Matteo Antoine Negroni, Florian Menzel, Susanne Foitzik. Extreme lifespan extension in tapeworm-infected ant workersRoyal Society Open Science, 2021; 8 (5): 202118 DOI: 10.1098/rsos.202118
May 31, 2021

Episode 433 - Prioritizing memories and filtering noise

How does your brain decide what's important to remember? You're constantly bombarded with info so how does your brain filter it all? Do memories change over time? Do certain details stand out more in our memories over time? What details can get lost in our memories over time? How does you brain know if it's worth 'saving' that picture you've seen. How does your brain filter out and only store the important stuff.

  1. Julia Lifanov, Juan Linde-Domingo, Maria Wimber. Feature-specific reaction times reveal a semanticisation of memories over time and with repeated rememberingNature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-23288-5
  2. Vahid Mehrpour, Travis Meyer, Eero P. Simoncelli, Nicole C. Rust. Pinpointing the neural signatures of single-exposure visual recognition memoryProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (18): e2021660118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2021660118
May 24, 2021

Episode 432 - Using sound and magnetism to navigate the world

How do animals use different senses to navigate the world? Can sharks detect magnetic fields? How do sharks travel 20,000km so precisely?  Can sharks use the Earth's magnetic field to navigate? What creatures use magnetism and how do they do it? Bats use echolocation, but what if the speed of sound changes? What if everything moved at 1.25 x speed? How can bats adapt to changes in the speed of sound?

  1. Bryan A. Keller, Nathan F. Putman, R. Dean Grubbs, David S. Portnoy, Timothy P. Murphy. Map-like use of Earth’s magnetic field in sharksCurrent Biology, 2021; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.03.103
  2. Eran Amichai, Yossi Yovel. Echolocating bats rely on an innate speed-of-sound referenceProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (19): e2024352118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2024352118
May 17, 2021

Episode 431 - Super stellar collisions and super computers

Space is really big, but when a collision happens it's incredibly complicated. Studying and predicting collisions between stars is hard even for super computers. How can you speed up the modelling of stellar collisions? A neutron star and a black hole colliding may not be as rare as you think. The collision of two heavyweights could give us the data we need to crack a century old question. The merger of a black hole and a neutron star gives off tremendous amounts of energy and may be more common than we thought. By 2030 we should have enough data captured on LIGO and other instruments to solve Hubble's dilema.

  1. Dominic C Marcello, Sagiv Shiber, Orsola De Marco, Juhan Frank, Geoffrey C Clayton, Patrick M Motl, Patrick Diehl, Hartmut Kaiser. Octo-Tiger: a new, 3D hydrodynamic code for stellar mergers that uses HPX parallelisationMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2021; DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stab937
  2. Stephen M. Feeney, Hiranya V. Peiris, Samaya M. Nissanke, and Daniel J. Mortlock. Prospects for measuring the Hubble constant with neutron-star–black-hole mergersPhys. Rev. Lett. (accepted), 2021 [abstract]
May 10, 2021

Episode 430 - Using Corn to clean water, and new wind turbine designs

Clever engineering can turn waste products into planet cleaning tools. Corn is America's biggest crop, but it's incredibly wasteful. Corn waste can be given a second life as activated carbon to help clean water. Corn waste makes for an efficient water when it's turned into activated charcoal. Wind turbines have to be carefully placed and located to maximise their efficiency. When designing a wind farm, the location and style of the turbine can greatly impact generation. Which design is better for wind turbines; vertical or horizontal? Vertical wind turbines aren't as common, but they can work together to boost efficiency.

  1. Mark Gale, Tu Nguyen, Marissa Moreno, Kandis Leslie Gilliard-AbdulAziz. Physiochemical Properties of Biochar and Activated Carbon from Biomass Residue: Influence of Process Conditions to Adsorbent PropertiesACS Omega, 2021; 6 (15): 10224 DOI: 10.1021/acsomega.1c00530
  2. Joachim Toftegaard Hansen, Mahak Mahak, Iakovos Tzanakis. Numerical modelling and optimization of vertical axis wind turbine pairs: A scale up approachRenewable Energy, 2021; 171: 1371 DOI: 10.1016/j.renene.2021.03.001
May 3, 2021

Episode 429 - Volcanic ash in our oceans and rafting in the air

Volcanic eruptions are incredibly powerful but not well understood. When a volcano erupts it can spread ash far and wide both in the ocean and in the air. What happens when a volcano erupts underwater? How much energy does an underwater volcano unleash? Where does all the energy in an underwater volcanic eruption go? Is it possible for volcanic ash to form and spread underwater? Just like jetstream currents in the air, volcanic ash can be carried far and wide in underwater eruptions. Volcanic ash can get held up by smaller particles, to raft long distances.

  1. T. Dürig, J. D. L. White, A. P. Murch, B. Zimanowski, R. Büttner, D. Mele, P. Dellino, R. J. Carey, L. S. Schmidt & N. Spitznagel. Deep-sea eruptions boosted by induced fuel-coolant explosions. Nature Geoscience, June 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41561-020-0603-4
  2. Samuel S. Pegler, David J. Ferguson. Rapid heat discharge during deep-sea eruptions generates megaplumes and disperses tephra. Nature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-22439-y
  3. Eduardo Rossi, Gholamhossein Bagheri, Frances Beckett, Costanza Bonadonna. The fate of volcanic ash: premature or delayed sedimentation? Nature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-21568-8
April 26, 2021

Episode 428 - Lightning and Early life on earth

What kicked off early life on earth? Organic chemistry and early life need the right minerals to be present and accessible. What helped unlock early minerals on earth like phosphorous to kick start life? Lightning strikes seem rare, but they're much more frequent than meteorites. Early life on Earth could have been helped along through lightning strikes and meteorites. DNA, RNA and Proteins are locked in a complex dance, but which came first. DNA can't replicate without the help of protein and RNA, so how did we develop DNA in the first place? Is it possible for RNA to replicate on it's own?
References:

  1. Benjamin L. Hess, Sandra Piazolo, Jason Harvey. Lightning strikes as a major facilitator of prebiotic phosphorus reduction on early EarthNature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-21849-2
  2. Alexandra Kühnlein, Simon A Lanzmich, Dieter Braun. tRNA sequences can assemble into a replicatoreLife, 2021; 10 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.63431
April 19, 2021

Episode 427 - RNA protecting your brain

How does RNA work to protect your brain and keep it safe after a traumatic event? Micro RNA can play an important role in healthy brain development. Without key micro RNA, the development of the brain can run out of control. Without key microRNA, your can develop neurodevelopmental disordersWithout oxygen your neurons starve, so how can you protect them?  How can you use mRNA to make neurons more resilient and recover after a lack of oxygen? Getting proteins across the blood brain barrier is tricky, so can they be snuck in via mRNA? Using mRNA, you can produce proteins to add brain recovery right where they're needed most.
Reference:

  1. Vijay Swahari, Ayumi Nakamura, Emilie Hollville, Hume Stroud, Jeremy M. Simon, Travis S. Ptacek, Matthew V. Beck, Cornelius Flowers, Jiami Guo, Charlotte Plestant, Jie Liang, C. Lisa Kurtz, Matt Kanke, Scott M. Hammond, You-Wen He, E.S. Anton, Praveen Sethupathy, Sheryl S. Moy, Michael E. Greenberg, Mohanish Deshmukh. MicroRNA-29 is an essential regulator of brain maturation through regulation of CH methylationCell Reports, 2021; 35 (1): 108946 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.108946
  2. Merlin Crossley,Dean of Science and Professor of Molecular Biology. (2021, April 09). Explainer: What is rna? Retrieved April 13, 2021, from https://theconversation.com/explainer-what-is-rna-15169
  3. Yuta Fukushima, Satoshi Uchida, Hideaki Imai, Hirofumi Nakatomi, Kazunori Kataoka, Nobuhito Saito, Keiji Itaka. Treatment of ischemic neuronal death by introducing brain-derived neurotrophic factor mRNA using polyplex nanomicelleBiomaterials, 2021; 270: 120681 DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2021.120681
April 12, 2021

Episode 426 - Tackling waste water and antibiotic resistance together

Hydrogen fuel promises a cleaner future, but the methods to make it are often dirty. A new approach recycles and treats waste water with sunlight to efficiently produce hydrogen. A new electrolysis approach turns waste antibiotics into hydrogen fuel cells. Removing antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals from waster water can be tricky, but a new technique turns that into green energy. Aquaculture is growing rapidly, but it is leading to antimicrobial resistance? What contributes more to antimicrobial resistance - fish farms or waste water? Incorrectly managed waster water can lead to superbugs.

 

References:

  1. Yaoyao Wu, Yuqiong Li, Hejing Hu, Guoshen Zeng, Chuanhao Li. Recovering Hydrogen Energy from Photocatalytic Treatment of Pharmaceutical-Contaminated Water Using Co3O4 Modified {001}/{101}-TiO2 NanosheetsACS ES&T Engineering, 2021; 1 (3): 603 DOI: 10.1021/acsestengg.1c00003
  2. Thunchanok Thongsamer, Rattikan Neamchan, Adrian Blackburn, Kishor Acharya, Sawannee Sutheeworapong, Bundit Tirachulee, Pavinee Pattanachan, Soydoa Vinitnantharat, Xin-Yuan Zhou, Jian-Qiang Su, Yong-Guan Zhu, David Graham, David Werner. Environmental antimicrobial resistance is associated with faecal pollution in Central Thailand’s coastal aquaculture regionJournal of Hazardous Materials, 2021; 125718 DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2021.125718
April 5, 2021

Episode 425 - Tiny creatures with a huge impact on our oceans

Can you find fresh water in the middle of the ocean? What happens when a geyser of fresh water erupts from the sea floor into the ocean? A sudden freshwater spring can radically change the ocean floor. How do plankton shells and coral help us monitor a changing climate? Life in the oceans can help sequester carbon. We can track the way the climate has changed in the past by studying strontium isotopes in seawater. Changing climates can impact life in shallow and deep water, which can lead to changes in the carbon cycle. Tiny creatures like copepods can have a huge impact on our ocean food web. How do tiny creatures like copepods gather in ephemeral ocean zephyrs. Tiny vortexs can act as a gathering place for tiny but important sea creatures.

  1. Eric Attias, Steven Constable, Dallas Sherman, Khaira Ismail, Christopher Shuler, Henrietta Dulai. Marine Electromagnetic Imaging and Volumetric Estimation of Freshwater Plumes Offshore Hawai'i. Geophysical Research Letters, 2021; 48 (7) DOI: 10.1029/2020GL091249
  2. Adina Paytan, Elizabeth M. Griffith, Anton Eisenhauer, Mathis P. Hain, Klaus Wallmann, Andrew Ridgwell. A 35-million-year record of seawater stable Sr isotopes reveals a fluctuating global carbon cycle. Science, 2021; 371 (6536): 1346 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz9266
  3. Dorsa Elmi, Donald R. Webster, David M. Fields. Response of the copepod Acartia tonsa to the hydrodynamic cues of small-scale, dissipative eddies in turbulence. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 2021; 224 (3): jeb237297 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.237297
March 29, 2021

Episode 424 - Hunting for atmospheres on other planets

Mars was once covered with water, so where did all the water on Mars go? What happened to the water in the Martian atmosphere? Why isn't there an abundance of heavy water in the Martian atmosphere? Water can get trapped inside rocks and minerals without volcanoes to cycle them. Volcanoes and tectonics help sequester, cycle and release water, so what happens on a planet without them? How can we hunt for signs of water atmospheres on exoplanets? On hot rocky exoplanets with oceans of magma, what happens to their hydrogen rich atmospheres?  An atmosphere of of hydrogen can slowly turn and change into water with the help of a magma ocean. 
References:

  1. E. L. Scheller, B. L. Ehlmann, Renyu Hu, D. J. Adams, Y. L. Yung. Long-term drying of Mars by sequestration of ocean-scale volumes of water in the crustScience, 2021; eabc7717 DOI: 10.1126/science.abc7717
  2. Edwin S. Kite, Laura Schaefer. Water on Hot Rocky ExoplanetsThe Astrophysical Journal Letters, 2021; 909 (2): L22 DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/abe7dc
March 22, 2021

Episode 423 - Humans vs Bacteria on earth and in space

Space is hard, things are different there which means something simple as salmonella becomes much more challenging. The rules of bacterial infection and response change once you're in space. How does your body respond to bacterial infection in microgravity environments? Getting sick in space may be worse than on earth. The human microbiome is incredible diverse and not well understood. Your gut contains 100,000s of bacteria groups, virus and other things. A large global study of gut microbiome has revealed thousands of new virus and bacteria types.

  1. Jennifer Barrila, Shameema F. Sarker, Nicole Hansmeier, Shanshan Yang, Kristina Buss, Natalia Briones, Jin Park, Richard R. Davis, Rebecca J. Forsyth, C. Mark Ott, Kevin Sato, Cristine Kosnik, Anthony Yang, Cheryl Shimoda, Nicole Rayl, Diana Ly, Aaron Landenberger, Stephanie D. Wilson, Naoko Yamazaki, Jason Steel, Camila Montano, Rolf U. Halden, Tom Cannon, Sarah L. Castro-Wallace, Cheryl A. Nickerson. Evaluating the effect of spaceflight on the host–pathogen interaction between human intestinal epithelial cells and Salmonella Typhimuriumnpj Microgravity, 2021; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41526-021-00136-w
  2. Luis F. Camarillo-Guerrero, Alexandre Almeida, Guillermo Rangel-Pineros, Robert D. Finn, Trevor D. Lawley. Massive expansion of human gut bacteriophage diversityCell, 2021; 184 (4): 1098 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.01.029
March 15, 2021

Episode 422 - Squid blending into starlight with Bio-luminescent bacteria

Squid can change colours, reflect light and blend in with their surroundings. How does the changing colours on squid skin work? What proteins and structures enable squid skin to reflect and amplify varying light? Squid can blend themselves into the starlight with the aid of bio-luminescence. The symbiotic relationship between bacteria and squid starts right after birth, and helps them shine to avoid predators and catch prey. A baby squid may not start out bioluminescent but a rapid spread of the right bacteria turns on the lights.

  1. Katherine E. Zink, Denise A. Ludvik, Phillip R. Lazzara, Terry W. Moore, Mark J. Mandel, Laura M. Sanchez. A Small Molecule Coordinates Symbiotic Behaviors in a Host OrganmBio, 2021; 12 (2) DOI: 10.1128/mBio.03637-20
  2. Daniel E. Morse, Esther Taxon. Reflectin needs its intensity amplifier: Realizing the potential of tunable structural biophotonicsApplied Physics Letters, 2020; 117 (22): 220501 DOI: 10.1063/5.0026546