science

Jenna Luecke / University of Texas at Austin

As humans have evolved, so has the bacteria that lives inside us.

That’s according to a recent study out of UT Austin, which indicates that the bacteria living in humans’ guts has co-evolved along with our species – so what you’ve heard referred to as “good bacteria” could easily be referred to instead as just “human bacteria.”

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Walls. They can shelter us. They can divide us. But can a wall itself become an object of curiosity? Well, one wall on the campus of UT Austin has done just that.


Daniel Plumer/flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

A Midland man was stung over 50 times and his dogs died after being stung over 1,000 times. In Texarkana, a swarm of bees surrounded a woman's car, trapping her inside. A man mowing his lawn in Raymondville was swarmed, suffered more than 200 stings, and died. A farmer in Lozano died after being stung more than 3,000 times.

These are no ordinary bees. Entomologists call them killer bees, or Africanized bees – a hybrid of two species, the African honey bee and various European cousins. They look like European honey bees, stripes and all, but are smaller. And their impulse to sting is 10 times greater – bees will pursue victims as far as half of a mile away from hives.


Beth Cortez-Neavel/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, most low-income, black and Hispanic people were segregated to the east side of what is now IH-35 in Austin. Now, the same people who’ve lived in the area for decades are being pushed out. Old houses are torn down to make way for new ones and property taxes are rising rapidly.


Image courtesy Texas A&M

From Texas Standard:

Who would have thought that in the annals of the dull, ordinary and all-too-predictable layout of the modern office cubicle, there’d be a development that captured pretty much everyone’s imagination? Standing desks – it seems like everyone glued to a cubicle wants one. In many office settings, people while away their days sitting and, let’s face it, snacking.

 


Wyss Institute

A UT researcher working with Harvard’s Wyss Insitute helped develop a new technique to create a small-scale model of the human gastrointestinal tract. All it requires is a silicon-based chip about the size of a thumb drive and, well, some poop.

C. Jung, P.B. Allen, A.D. Ellington/Nature Nanotechnology

Imagine a test that could tell you instantly whether or not you had a case of strep throat, or just a bad cold. No doctors. No waiting. No hassle.

That’s the idea behind research from UT Austin’s Ellington Lab, published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. The so-called “DNA walker” developed by Cheulhee Jung, Peter Allen and Andrew Ellington isn’t the first ever created – DNA walkers are fairly common in nanotechnology – but its mechanics are different than any other ever devised.

Photo via San Antonio Charter Moms/(CC BY 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

For more than 130 years, a mill has been a landmark of the Johnson City community. It’s served as a steam grist mill, cotton gin, feed mill and even a restaurant. But it was vacant for a while, until its latest tenant moved in: a science museum.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

High school students from across Texas are spending the weekend launching rockets near Fredericksburg as a part of an aeroscience engineering program called SystemsGo.

The Willow City volunteer fire station just outside Fredericksburg filled up with high school students from all over Texas at 6 a.m. They bend over nearly 20 different rockets, prepping them for launch.

Students ask questions like: “So when the parachute comes out, where is the air resistance going to be? How is it going to catch air? Did we research that?”

One team of students traveled from Kingwood High School in the Humble Independent School District outside Houston. They’ve been working on their rocket for six months — even building part of it with 3D printers.

Courtesy of Donald E. Davis

From Texas Standard:

Have you ever wondered what happened to the dinosaurs? Well, you’re not the only one.

That’s why an international group of scientists, funded by the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling, are planning to launch an expedition to drill into the Chicxulub crater, a 150-mile wide impact crater buried underneath the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

Alex Cockroach/flickr

March 14, 2015 is National Pi Day – as in 3.1415. And, at 9:26:53 a.m., the date and time will align with the first ten digits of pi: 3.141592653.

Adam Voorhes

The University of Texas at Austin made international news in recent weeks over confusion about what happened to hundreds of donated human brains. Now the university is forming a special three-member committee to look into the case.

Last month, a KUT story highlighted the mystery of 100 missing brain specimens that had been donated from the Austin State Hospital, what they used to call the Texas State Lunatic Asylum.

Adam Voorhes

UPDATE 12/03/14: After this story received national media attention, UT Austin now says the 100 brains that were unaccounted for are not missing. In fact, they were deemed unsuitable for research or teaching and were destroyed sometime around 2002. The University says it will continue to investigate the circumstances of their destruction

ORIGINAL STORY 11/21/14: For decades, a rare collection of human remains sat in a basement at the University of Texas at Austin. Now, it is getting renewed attention, thanks in part, to Austin photographer Adam Voorhes.

Back in 2011, Voorhes went to take a picture of a brain for a magazine cover. He went to see a guy at UT named Professor Tim Schallert. While they were there, Schallert asked if Voorhes wanted to see his collection. 

So, they made their way to a storage closet in the back of Schallert's lab. What was inside set Voorhes on a months long quest for answers about a group of people who died decades earlier — answers that largely remain elusive.

picturesdotnews.wordpress.com

The human brain is perhaps the most complicated machine in the known universe, and the way we sometimes try to understand it’s capacity is to liken it to the most sophisticated artifacts we’ve created. The brain is hence “like a computer” and no longer like the “steam engine” it was compared to in the late 19th century.

The circuitry in the brain is made up of pretty basic materials, so it’s understandable that we would try to replicate it.  Yet it seems the more we learn about the brain, the more complex it becomes.The development of A.I., while it brings about a better understanding of how our brains work, it also generates more questions about what it means to be human.

What counts as “human”? Why is intelligence the marker of humanity? And what types of questions are currently vexing computer scientists, psychologists, and philosophers about A.I.?

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke take us through a brief history of the development of artificial intelligence, and pose some interesting questions about where we might be headed.

galleryhip.com

We value brains. We hold test scores in high esteem. We spend money and hours on brain training games and ginseng. But what does intelligence really mean? How do we define and gauge actual smarts? Does a high IQ predict success?

In this episode of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke talk about the history and development of intelligence tests; as well as what these tests can actually tell us about one's ability to achieve.

www.inquisitr.com

Halloween will soon be upon us, and among the ghouls and goblins walking the streets, you might see someone dressed up an Ebola patient out asking for candy. How will you respond?

Would you buckle over in laughter, or would you be totally offended by this irreverent ode to this devastating threat?

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke discuss why we respond to fear and other uncomfortable and threatening situations with humor.

www.domtesta.com

Procrastination is the all-too-familiar foe of productivity, but why do some wait until the last minute to even get a project started?

In this episode of "Two Guys on Your Head" Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke explore the psychology behind procrastination, and how we can overcome factors that might be keeping us from getting started.

flickr.com/elevy

Shark Week is winding down on the Discovery Channel, and with the annual televised ritual comes an uptick of interest in sharks. But with many scientists saying lots of Shark Week facts are dead in the water, how do you separate fact from fiction?

Texas Standard's David Brown recently spoke with freelance writer and evolutionary biologist Christie Wilcox to shed a little light on what's real and what isn’t. 

University of Texas at Austin

Imagine being in a room full of people – a cacophony of conversations and noise. Despite standing right next to someone, you strain to hear her voice.

People who use hearing aids often struggle to focus on one voice – especially in noisy environments. They could crank up the volume on their hearing aids – but that would also crank up the volume of everything else in the background.

Professor Neal Hall and his group of graduate students from the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas offers a solution: a device that mimics the hearing powers of a fly.

http://www.wildfiresparks.co.uk

Being the incredibly social species that we are, we humans simply cannot avoid influencing one another when we interact. Influence is inevitable. 

The question then becomes, since influence is inevitable in human interaction, can we achieve the kind of influence that we intend to have, or that we might think we have in the world? 

On this week’s show, the Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, influence our understanding of the different functions and effects of influence in our lives.

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