University of Texas at Austin

Archive for 2011


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Research Roundup Spring 2011: Black holes, subsurface fjords, early mammal brains and more

In the last few months, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin dealt with black holes, dead zones and ice kilometers under the surface of Antarctica.

They found that early mammals evolved bigger brains for the sense of smell. They found that alcohol helps a brain to remember.

They made a carbon “sponge” that could store energy and a $1 biosensing diagnostic device that’s self-powered.

They found that teenagers who don’t fit in are less likely to go for higher education.

To help
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Friday, June 3, 2011

“Science Secrets” author zaps popular science myths; i.e., Einstein not wound up by synchronizing Swiss clocks

Associate Professor of History Alberto Martinez.  Photo by Judy Hogan.

Associate Professor of History Alberto Martinez. Photo by Judy Hogan.

Jessica Sinn in the College of Liberal Arts conducted a question-and-answer session with Alberto Martinez, associate professor in the Department of History, about his new book, “Science Secrets: The Truth about Darwin’s Finches, Einstein’s Wife, and Other Myths.”

Legend has it Benjamin Franklin ventured out on a stormy day to fly a kite with a lightning rod and a key dangling on the end of the string. When the lightning struck the
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Monday, May 30, 2011

Got it in writing: A surprising Bronze Age discovery

Greek scholar Cynthia Shelmerdine said the clay tablet with writing from the Late Bronze Age is the most exciting find of her career, hands down.

Greek scholar Cynthia Shelmerdine said the clay tablet with writing from the Late Bronze Age is the most exciting find of her career, hands down.

Listening to Cynthia Shelmerdine describe the writing on a Greek tablet from more than 3,000 years ago, it’s like she was looking over the scribe’s shoulder as he worked.

She points out details and nuance of technique, the condition of the tablet and what it means, literally, and for the world of Greek archaeology.

“Notice how the signs
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bridging the Longevity Gap: Sociologists Seek to Increase Life Expectancies for African Americans, Hispanics

Jessica Sinn, a member of the communications staff of the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin, wrote this post about Prof. Robert Hummer’s research into disparities in life expectancies between racial groups in the United States.

“Five years might seem like a modest gap, but lives are being lost prematurely and not in a color-blind fashion,” says sociologist Robert Hummer about life expectancy differences between white and blacks in the United States.

“Five years might seem like a modest gap, but lives are being lost prematurely and not in a color-blind fashion,” says sociologist Robert Hummer about life expectancy differences between white and blacks in the United States.

Thanks to improvements in education,
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Monday, May 23, 2011

How changing the world got started

In remarks at a panel on the research mission of universities, Dr. J. Tinsley Oden showed this sampling of the research going on at the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. It ranges from predicting the paths of hurricanes to laser surgery on cancer cells.

In remarks at a panel on the research mission of universities, Dr. J. Tinsley Oden showed this sampling of research going on at the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. It ranges from predicting the paths of hurricanes to laser surgery on cancer cells.

Dr. J. Tinsley Oden, director of the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, highlighted the development of universities as research institutions in this remarks. He
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Developing a diagnostic device

Brian Zaccheo with his sensor for acute pancreatitis.

Brian Zaccheo with his sensor for acute pancreatitis.

When Brian Zaccheo designed a low-cost, self-powered diagnostic device for acute pancreatitis, he combined skills from his undergraduate training in biochemistry with the analytical chemistry expertise in the laboratory of his adviser, Prof. Richard Crooks.

But he added another element to the mix: business sense.

The result is a device that can be made cheaply with ingredients such as milk protein, gelatin, aluminum foil and LED lights.

It works quickly. Place a sample on the device
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Friday, May 13, 2011

Carbon “sponge” could charge supercapacitors

University of Texas at Austin collaborators Meryl Stoller, Dr. Yanwu Zhu and Dr. Rodney Ruoff stand with a 3-D model of the new carbon material they have created.

University of Texas at Austin collaborators Meryl Stoller, Dr. Yanwu Zhu and Dr. Rodney Ruoff stand with a 3-D model of the new carbon material they have created.

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin’s have created a new porous, three-dimensional carbon that can be used as a greatly enhanced supercapacitor, holding promise for energy storage in everything from energy grids and electric cars to consumer electronics.

The significance of the discovery is the potential it offers for enabling supercapacitors to
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In the jungle, lions roam at night

Geographer Kelley Crews had the opportunity to follow a pair of lions on a moonlight walk, from the safety of a vehicle, of course.For researchers in the field in places like Botswana, being close to wildlife, such as lions, is one of the thrilling parts of the job. It also can be dangerous if precautions aren’t taken.

Kelley Crews, associate professor in the Department of Geography and Environment, recounted a closer-than-usual encounter she and a colleague had with two lions one night in the Botswana bush:

We were preparing dinner after dark in our campsite and one of my colleagues spotted a lion. (This is
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Friday, April 15, 2011

Undergrads do research

Psychology undergraduate Martinique Jones has conducted research in Houston schools.

Psychology undergraduate Martinique Jones has conducted research in Houston schools.

We put the spotlight on several undergraduates who conduct research to mark Research Week, which was April 11-15.

Check out their stories on the Know Web site.

Martinique Jones
Major: Psychology
Research Topic: The African American Dream: A Progressive Discussion of Academic Achievement in African American Students

Margaret Sanders
Major: Plan II and Psychology
Research Topic: The Effect of Categorization on Judgments of Paintings

Zachary Garber
Major: Government
Research Topic: William Lauder’s Impact on the History of Barbados

Jose Ybarra
Major: Human Biology
Research Topic:
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Your brain, on drugs, learns too much

Hitoshi Morikawa want to find ways to interfere with the brain's capability to "overlearn" drug-associated behavior.One of the most famous science experiments is the one involving Pavlov and his dog in which Ivan Pavlov conditioned the dog to salivate at the sound of a bell.

Addictive drugs affect the brain in a similar but more powerful way, says Hitoshi Morikawa, a neurobiologist in the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research.

“We think addiction is a form of pathological overlearning in which the brain remembers too much the association between certain environmental stimuli and drug-seeking or drug-taking
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