Loading Downloads
450Episodes
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.

September 13, 2021

Episode 448 - Ig Nobel ‘21 Part 1 - Invasion of the chewing gum

We celebrate the greatest scientific awards night, the 31st Ig Nobel Prizes. In this multi part special we find out about the history of the Ig Nobel prizes and some of the more well known examples from storied history. Who came home with the top prize this year in the Ig Nobel's? What's the best way to airlift a rhino? Are there NSFW ways to de-congest your nose? What can a discarded piece of chewing gum tell you about your mouth or environment? A discarded piece of gum can be a mess but also a messy battleground for bacteria. Since bacteria love invading old gum, can that be harnessed for good?

Full information about the Ig Nobel Prizes can be found at their website, curated by the journal, the Annals of Improbable Research. 

References:

  1. Obesity of Politicians and Corruption in Post‐Soviet Countries,” Pavlo Blavatskyy, Economic of Transition and Institutional Change, vol. 29, no. 2, 2021, pp. 343-356.
September 6, 2021

Episode 447 - Defending and recovering from floods in cities and the sea floor

Extreme storms will become more common, so how can cities and the sea bed defend itself. What happens to the sea floor when there is a big storm? How long does the ecosystem on the sea floor take to recover after a large storm. What can be done to protect a coastal city from flooding in extreme weather? Knowing when to batten the hatches and protect a city in an extreme storm requires careful modelling. Venice is a beautiful city, but requires constant defense from damaging flooding and storms. Venice is protected from flooding by MOSE but is there a future where the gates are permanently closed? The complex interaction between sea level rise, Mediterranean and Adriatic seas make protecting the Venetian lagoon tricky.

  1. Piero Lionello, Robert J. Nicholls, Georg Umgiesser, Davide Zanchettin. Venice flooding and sea level: past evolution, present issues, and future projections (introduction to the special issue). Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 2021; 21 (8): 2633 DOI: 10.5194/nhess-21-2633-2021
  2. E. V. Sheehan, L. A. Holmes, B. F. R. Davies, A. Cartwright, A. Rees, M. J. Attrill. Rewilding of Protected Areas Enhances Resilience of Marine Ecosystems to Extreme Climatic Events. Frontiers in Marine Science, 2021; 8 DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2021.671427
August 30, 2021

Episode 446 - Brains and Guts connected in surprising ways

Your brain and gut are connected in surprising ways. Inside your GI tract is a surprisingly complex nervous system. Your GI tract has it's own nervous system which is more like the spine than other organs. How does your GI tract differ from other soft hollow organs? The connection between gut microbiomes and brains is clear, but not well understood. Certain microbes can cause neurodegeneration in brains just as bad as a poor diet and no oxygen. How can we stop brains copy and pasting toxic byproducts across our brains? Proteins keep our brains in check and prevent build up of toxic byproducts, but this can be used to put the brakes on neurodegeneration.

 

References:

  1. Nick J. Spencer, Lee Travis, Lukasz Wiklendt, Marcello Costa, Timothy J. Hibberd, Simon J. Brookes, Phil Dinning, Hongzhen Hu, David A. Wattchow, Julian Sorensen. Long range synchronization within the enteric nervous system underlies propulsion along the large intestine in mice. Communications Biology, 2021; 4 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s42003-021-02485-4
  2. Christine A. Olson, Alonso J. Iñiguez, Grace E. Yang, Ping Fang, Geoffrey N. Pronovost, Kelly G. Jameson, Tomiko K. Rendon, Jorge Paramo, Jacob T. Barlow, Rustem F. Ismagilov, Elaine Y. Hsiao. Alterations in the gut microbiota contribute to cognitive impairment induced by the ketogenic diet and hypoxia. Cell Host & Microbe, 2021; DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2021.07.004
  3. Chingakham Ranjit Singh, M. Rebecca Glineburg, Chelsea Moore, Naoki Tani, Rahul Jaiswal, Ye Zou, Eric Aube, Sarah Gillaspie, Mackenzie Thornton, Ariana Cecil, Madelyn Hilgers, Azuma Takasu, Izumi Asano, Masayo Asano, Carlos R. Escalante, Akira Nakamura, Peter K. Todd, Katsura Asano. Human oncoprotein 5MP suppresses general and repeat-associated non-AUG translation via eIF3 by a common mechanism. Cell Reports, 2021; 36 (2): 109376 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109376
August 23, 2021

Episode 445 - De-carbonizing Transportation and Fertilizer

Can you really power a plane with enough batteries to fly across the world? How many batteries does a ship need to circumnavigate the globe? Is there an efficient way to stop relying on diesel and dirty jet fuel? How can we turn big CO2 emitters like ships and planes into CO2 negative systems? Can aviation and transport ever be carbon neutral? How can we make fertilizer without using so much energy? The Haber Bosch process helped feed the planet, but how can we replace it to save the planet?

 

References:

  1. Travis A. Schmauss, Scott A. Barnett. Viability of Vehicles Utilizing On-Board CO2 Capture. ACS Energy Letters, 2021; 3180 DOI: 10.1021/acsenergylett.1c01426
  2. Chade Lv, Lixiang Zhong, Hengjie Liu, Zhiwei Fang, Chunshuang Yan, Mengxin Chen, Yi Kong, Carmen Lee, Daobin Liu, Shuzhou Li, Jiawei Liu, Li Song, Gang Chen, Qingyu Yan, Guihua Yu. Selective electrocatalytic synthesis of urea with nitrate and carbon dioxide. Nature Sustainability, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41893-021-00741-3
August 16, 2021

Episode 444 - Deadly Creatures in Australia for Nat. Sci Week

It's National Science Week in Australia so we celebrate with some Aussie Science. What's more Aussie than dangerous creatures? Queensland Museum researchers have found even more spiders in Brisbane. Golden Trapdoors sound like they contain treasure, but since it's Australia we're talking about, its just another scary creature. Your average Brisbane backyard may contain more types of spiders than you imagine.  How did snakes evolve their deadly fangs? What came first the venom or the tooth? Why have so many different snakes evolved venom where Lizards haven't? In Australia even the plants can be deadly. We know tobaccos is dangerous, but in WA scientists have found an insect eating wild tobacco plant. Wild tobacco plants can thrive in odd places in Australia and can even chow down on Insects. 

  1. Wilson, J. D., & Rix, M. G. (2021). Systematics of the AUSTRALIAN golden trapdoor spiders of the EUOPLOS VARIABILIS-GROUP (Mygalomorphae : IDIOPIDAE : Euoplini): Parapatry And Sympatry between closely related species in SUBTROPICAL QUEENSLAND. Invertebrate Systematics. https://doi.org/10.1071/is20055
  2. Chase, M. W., & Christenhusz, M. J. (2021). 994. NICOTIANA INSECTICIDA: Solanaceae. Curtis's Botanical Magazine. https://doi.org/10.1111/curt.12402
  3. Palci, A., LeBlanc, A., Panagiotopoulou, O., Cleuren, S., Mehari Abraha, H., Hutchinson, M., Evans, A., Caldwell, M. and Lee, M., 2021. Plicidentine and the repeated origins of snake venom fangs. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 288(1956), p.20211391.
August 9, 2021

Episode 443 - Strange chemistry, ice, life and moons

Moons across our solar system have rich chemistry that may harbor life. Ganymede may have more water in it's 'oceans' than Earth. The makeup of Ganymede may include layers of ice, oceans and even water vapor atmospheres. Piecing together data from Hubble, Galileo and Juno to help crack the mystery of Ganymede's atmosphere. Melting ice on Ganymede's surface could explain the odd atmosphere. Enceladus has great geysers but they contain more methane than we can explain...unless we consider biological systems. Enceladus has many mysteries beneath it's ice, but could geothermal vents help explain whats in it's geysers? Cassini did a daring flyby through Enceladus' geysers, but they were filled with many things we did not expect.

  1. Lorenz Roth, Nickolay Ivchenko, G. Randall Gladstone, Joachim Saur, Denis Grodent, Bertrand Bonfond, Philippa M. Molyneux, Kurt D. Retherford. A sublimated water atmosphere on Ganymede detected from Hubble Space Telescope observations. Nature Astronomy, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-021-01426-9
  2. Antonin Affholder, François Guyot, Boris Sauterey, Régis Ferrière, Stéphane Mazevet. Bayesian analysis of Enceladus’s plume data to assess methanogenesis. Nature Astronomy, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-021-01372-6
August 2, 2021

Episode 442 - Just what is a metal anyway

Just what is a metal anyway? It can be hard to classify things, no matter what you do there's always exceptions to the rules. Chemists, Physicists and Astrophysicists have wildly differing opinions on what a metal is. Although there is disagreement about what makes a metal, can you find new exceptions? What needs to happen to turn water into a metal? Can pure water be made to conduct electricity without needing a Jupiter sized planet? How do you turn water into a golden, shimmering, conducting metal? 
References:

  1. Philip E. Mason, H. Christian Schewe, Tillmann Buttersack, Vojtech Kostal, Marco Vitek, Ryan S. McMullen, Hebatallah Ali, Florian Trinter, Chin Lee, Daniel M. Neumark, Stephan Thürmer, Robert Seidel, Bernd Winter, Stephen E. Bradforth, Pavel Jungwirth. Spectroscopic evidence for a gold-coloured metallic water solution. Nature, 2021; 595 (7869): 673 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03646-5
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