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From the College of Natural Sciences

Marc Airhart is the Communications Coordinator for the College of Natural Sciences. A long time member of the National Association of Science Writers, he has written for national publications including Scientific American, Mercury, The Earth Scientist, Environmental Engineer & Scientist, and StarDate Magazine. He also spent 11 years as a writer and producer for the Earth & Sky radio series. Contact me

New Partnership Will Scale Up Investment in Ethical AI Research and Innovation

New Partnership Will Scale Up Investment in Ethical AI Research and Innovation

Kenneth R. Fleischmann, Will Griffin, Mikel Rodriguez and Alice Xiang at the 2022 Good Systems Symposium. Credit: Stacey Ingram Kaleh.

The University of Texas at Austin and the MITRE Corporation, a nonprofit dedicated to solving problems for a safer world, have formed a partnership that includes accelerating innovative ethical artificial intelligence (AI) research currently underway by interdisciplinary teams of researchers who are part of UT Austin's Good Systems research grand challenge.

Wide View of Early Universe Hints at Galaxy Among the Earliest Ever Detected

Wide View of Early Universe Hints at Galaxy Among the Earliest Ever Detected

Members of the CEERS collaboration explore the first wide, deep field image from the James Webb Space Telescope at the Texas Advanced Computing Center’s Visualization Lab on the UT Austin campus on July 21, 2022. Credit: Nolan Zunk/University of Texas at Austin.

Two new images from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope show what may be among the earliest galaxies ever observed. Both images include objects from more than 13 billion years ago, and one offers a much wider field of view than Webb's First Deep Field image, which was released amid great fanfare July 12. The images represent some of the first out of a major collaboration of astronomers and other academic researchers teaming with NASA and global partners to uncover new insights about the universe.

Researchers Aim to Make Computer Networks Easier to Change on the Fly

Researchers Aim to Make Computer Networks Easier to Change on the Fly

It's hard to make changes to the software running on a computer network while it's in use—and that can make it harder to respond quickly to a cyberattack. The National Science Foundation has awarded a grant to computer scientists from Rice University, The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Washington to develop runtime programmable networks that can respond to real-time changes rapidly and without interruption of service.

Race to Find Earliest Galaxy Heats Up

Race to Find Earliest Galaxy Heats Up

Maisie's galaxy, imaged by the James Webb Space Telescope, may be among the earliest ever observed. Researchers estimate that we're seeing it as it was about 290 million years after the Big Bang.

In the past week, astronomers have been giddily sifting through the latest images from the James Webb Space Telescope and turning up golden nuggets nearly everywhere they look. Major news outlets including BBC, Nature, Space.com and CNET are reporting that several teams have found what appear to be a slew of galaxies seen much earlier than the earliest detected by the Hubble Space Telescope.

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Neutralizing Crazy Ants

Neutralizing Crazy Ants

Over the past 15 years or so, tawny crazy ants from South America have been popping up across the southeastern U.S. like paratroopers dropping in from an invading army. Where they take hold, they're like an ecological wrecking ball and they cause headaches for homeowners. Podcast host Marc Airhart joined biologist Edward LeBrun in the Texas Hill Country to test a new weapon in the battle against the destructive tawny crazy ant.

Alumni and Friends to be Inducted into Hall of Honor

Alumni and Friends to be Inducted into Hall of Honor

Three College of Natural Sciences alumni and friends were selected for induction into the college's 2022 Hall of Honor. David Booth, Richard Hinojosa and James Truchard received the distinction for their outstanding career accomplishments and lasting commitment to the college. They join four additional inductees from previous years who were unable to receive their honors in person due to the pandemic.

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Virus Discovery Offers Clues About Origins of Complex Life

Virus Discovery Offers Clues About Origins of Complex Life

Eukaryotic cells. Credit: iStock.

Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin report in Nature Microbiology the first discovery of viruses infecting a group of microbes that may include the ancestors of all complex life. The discovery offers tantalizing clues about the origins of complex life and suggests new directions for exploring the hypothesis that viruses were essential to the evolution of humans and other complex life forms.

Attackers Can Syphon Crypto Keys with Newly Discovered Attack

Attackers Can Syphon Crypto Keys with Newly Discovered Attack

Photo by alerkiv on Unsplash.

A team of researchers including Ph.D. student Yingchen Wang and professor Hovav Shacham from The University of Texas at Austin has found that a common feature of modern computer processors can make even carefully written encryption software reveal its secrets when probed by an attacker. The new attack technique, dubbed Hertzbleed, upends decades of guidance for how to write encryption software and may lead to widespread patching as developers come to terms with its implications.

Holy Bat Memory! Frog-Eating Bats Remember Ringtones Years Later

Holy Bat Memory! Frog-Eating Bats Remember Ringtones Years Later

Frog-eating bat (Trachops cirrhosus). Credit: Marcos Guerra.

Frog-eating bats trained by researchers to associate a phone ringtone with a tasty treat were able to remember what they learned for up to four years in the wild, according to a new study published in Current Biology.

Legacy of Colonialism Influences Science in the Caribbean

Legacy of Colonialism Influences Science in the Caribbean

Map of the Caribbean region. Generated using ArcGIS Pro online.

With the retreat of sprawling empires after the Second World War, one might think the colonial mindset of taking from smaller countries to support large nations would likewise be relegated to the past. But a new paper in The American Naturalist by an international collaboration of researchers shows how the legacy of colonialism remains deeply entrenched within scientific practice across the Caribbean archipelago.