science

Laura Rice, KUT News

Technology is improving – and fast. The next frontier for some software designers is the human brain.

William Hurley, or “whurley," is the co-founder of Austin-based mobile studio company Chaotic Moon.

1. Brain-Altering Software Already Exists:

"Currently there are things that are considered brain-altering software. Sites like Lumosity and things like that where you do brain training and different activities."

Do you take pride in your ability to divide your focus and energy into more than one task at a time?  Do you think you’re a good multitasker?  Chances are, you’re probably not.

Russ Poldrack

At 7:30 a.m. on pretty much any Tuesday over the past eight months, you'd find Russ Poldrack lying on his back in front of the MRI scanner in his basement lab at UT, waiting to scan his brain.

Poldrack, a neuroscientist, runs the Imaging Research Center at UT-Austin.

I meet him on the morning of his 58th scan.

Three Georgetown teens have won an international student rocketry competition, beating out two teams from France and the United Kingdom.

This morning at the International Rocketry Challenge, Daniel Kelton and brothers Mark and Matthew Janecka launched their rocket, successfully propelling it to 750 feet in the air within seconds and landing their cargo, a single egg, safely at Le Bourget Airport in Paris. 

We need to sleep for a host of reasons, but what exactly is happening in our brains while we’re unconscious? We've only scratched the surface of understanding all that happens during sleep, but we do know that while our bodies are resting, our brains are very busy.

The Solar Impulse, an airplane traveling across the United States using only solar power, is in Phoenix today, after reaching Arizona from California Saturday. It took the plane about 20 hours to travel from Mountain View, Calif., near San Francisco.

The aircraft is capable of flying at night as well as in daytime; the plane had about 75 percent of its battery power remaining when it landed in Arizona.

Same-sex marriage got huge headlines at the Supreme Court last month, but in the world of science and medicine, the case being argued on Monday is far more important. The lawsuit deals with a truly 21st century issue — whether human genes may be patented.

Adding some details to an initiative he announced during his latest State of the Union address, President Obama on Tuesday said that federal agencies plan to spend $100 million to jump start an effort to map the human brain. It's research that could lead to breakthroughs in the treatment and prevention of brain disorders.

To err is human.

So is refusing to apologize for those errors.

From toddlers and talk show hosts to preteens and presidents, we all know people who have done stupid, silly and evil things, then squared their jaws and told the world they've done nothing wrong.

CDC/ Amanda Mills

A brother and sister team of young scientists from Westwood High School are finalists in a national science competition.

Priya and Naveen Arunachalam are both finalists in the Exploravision contest. The contest attracted nearly 16,000 students nationwide in a competition to design future technologies that could change the world.

Dr. Andrea Alu, UT

Update: Harry Potter fans and Muggles alike may be one step closer to getting their own invisibility cloaks, if researchers at the University of Texas can help it.

According to the New Journal of Physics, they’ve created a thin material called a “mantle cloak.” Right now the cloak can only make things invisible in a certain range of light waves. It also doesn’t look like a cloak you would wear. It’s a thin tubing made from polycarbonate film, wrapped with copper tape.

flickr.com/chrissamuel

Tonight is one of a few chances Austinites will have to see a passing comet.

The PAN-STARRS comet, or C/2011 L-4 as it’s known by stargazers, will make its way across the Austin skies around 30 to 40 minutes after sunset tonight – which is at 7:37 p.m, according to the National Weather Service.

courtesy NASA

First it was a music festival, then a film festival, then an interactive festival. Since then, South by Southwest has added education, the environment and venture capital to its repertoire. Could SXSW Space be far off?

Update at 8:10 p.m. ET: Problem Fixed, Arrival Delayed

SpaceX says the problem with its unmanned craft carrying supplies for the International Space Station has been fixed.

Scientists from Colombia believe they have pinpointed the origin of the giant meteor that smashed into a remote region of Russia earlier this month, injuring more than 1,000 people.

The meteor that caused at least 1,000 injuries in Russia after a startling and powerful daytime explosion one week ago has been identified as a chondrite. Russian scientists who analyzed fragments of the meteor, whose large size and well-documented impact made it a rarity, say that its composition makes it the most common type of meteor we encounter here on Earth.

University of Texas at Austin

A University of Texas chemist has been honored with a $500,000 prize for inventing a key technology used to produce virtually all modern computer chips. The Japan Prize is awarded annually to people who make major contributions to the fields of science and technology. 

C. Grant Willson, along with a colleague and a grad student, figured out how to print complex computer circuits on silicon wafers. Chris Mack, an expert in lithography, says Willson’s work is everywhere.

flickr.com/trufflepig

We all think we know what happy means. But when you get down to it, how would we actually define it? Raj Raghunathan has tried. He teaches marketing at UT’s McCombs School of Business. He studies, among other things, consumer behavior, decision theory, and happiness. Raghunathan says different people define happiness differently, but a couple of traits are universal. It’s a positive emotion, and we want to experience it. But, he says, pursuing society’s most common markers of happiness won’t actually get us there.

We start with a pool of oil. We turn on a magnet. The oil travels up a superstructure and blossoms into a tree. Turn off the magnet, the branches, the needles, the tree melt away. It's a puddle again.

The perfect tree for an oil billionaire, no?

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