Researchers, scholars and experts from The University of Texas at Austin are sought by news outlets every week for their knowledge, expertise and insights. Here’s a selection of recent media hits.
Tiny Channels Take Salt from Seawater
The World Health Organization estimates that nearly one billion people do not have access to safe drinking water. But that could change with the development of a “water chip” created by two scientists, including UT’s Richard Crooks. Crooks and Ulrich Tallarek are working with Okeanos Technologies to further develop the chip which takes salt from seawater to make drinkable water. Currently, it is expensive to turn seawater into drinkable water but this new desalination method could prove to be a solution to many.
Read more about the impact this technology for the future.
Chemists Work to Desalt the Ocean for Drinking Water, One Nanoliter at a Time (UT News)
Desalting the Ocean (Texas Science)
‘Brainwashed’ Examines the Value of Brain Scans
NPR Science Friday
Russell Poldrack, Imaging Research Center, Department of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts, Department of Neuroscience, College of Natural Sciences
NPR’s Science Friday host, Ira Flatow, invited a panel to discuss the science behind some recent brain imaging research. Flatow’s guests included UT Austin’s Russell Poldrack, director of the Imaging Research Center and Professor of Psychology and Neurobiology. Poldrack discussed the differences between a structural MRI and a functional MRI and the type of MRI his research is using. Poldrack went on to tell Flatow that “we can actually decode what people are thinking, at least in very limited circumstances.”
This Austin Scientist is Scanning His Own Brain Over 100 Times (KUT News)
Weekly Readings: Quantifying Self (UT feature)
Frank James writes in his latest NPR piece about the irony of Texas politics right now. State Sen. Wendy Davis’s filibuster of anti-abortion legislation a few weeks ago has not only raised her profile but also that of Gov. Rick Perry. James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at UT, told NPR that not only has Davis gained statewide and national attention, the fireworks at the capitol have given Perry an opportunity to reintroduce himself to a national conservative audience. Henson also points out that conservatives will use Davis’s new renown against her in advertising during her state senator reelection campaign.
Read more about Henson’s opinions on Perry and Davis’ Texas political drama and what it means for both of them.
Texas Politics Project (Website)
In 2010, about 13.4 million people, or 9.5 percent of the workforce, spent at least some of their time telecommuting. That number is expected to be higher this year. But earlier this year, Yahoo banned telecommuting because the company said it wanted workers to be in the same space for better collaboration.
Some suggest that telecommuters slack off, but experts argue that’s not necessarily true. Telecommuting works if employers hold workers accountable for getting their work done. Jennifer Glass, telecommuting expert and sociology professor, agrees, stating in a CNBC article, “You have to manage workers, whether they’re working from home or not.” Glass also noted that most telecommuters only work part time, and it is usually overtime work.
Glass also recommends that workers not work remotely all the time, noting the importance of building relationships and networking — activities best done in the office.
Learn more about telecommuting and productivity in this CNBC article.
Telecommuting Adds Hours to Workweek, UT Study Shows (Alcalde)
Telecommuting Increases Work Hours and Blurs Boundary Between Work and Home, New Study Shows (UT News)
The Work-From-Home Wars (Alcalde)
5 Super-Cool Supercomputers
The United States hosts 253 of the 500 supercomputers on the “Top 500” list — more than any other country. This year the Chinese reclaimed the top spot in June’s fastest supercomputers list. The Tianhe-2 is almost twice as fast as any other supercomputer.
UT Austin is home to “Stampede,” the world’s sixth-fastest supercomputer. After receiving an upgrade, Stampede actually moved up one spot on the top list, a rarity in the supercomputer world. Stampede is also one of the world’s largest open computer systems. Any researcher at a U.S. institution can submit a request to use Stampede.
Learn more about Stampede and the other “super-cool” supercomputers.