Button to scroll to the top of the page.

News

From the College of Natural Sciences
In Science, Facility Plans Determine Staying Ahead of the Technological Curve

In Science, Facility Plans Determine Staying Ahead of the Technological Curve

Weeks after most students have left UT Austin's campus for the summer, the heart of the Forty Acres is anything but quiet. The steady beeping of a forklift mixes with the drone of power tools and the occasional boom of construction debris being dropped out a third-floor window and into a skiff.

New Nerve Gas Detector Built with Legos and a Smartphone

New Nerve Gas Detector Built with Legos and a Smartphone

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have designed a way to sense dangerous chemicals using, in part, a simple rig consisting of a smartphone and a box made from Lego bricks, which could help first responders and scientists in the field identify deadly and difficult-to-detect nerve agents such as VX and sarin. The new methodology described in a paper published Wednesday in the open-access journal ACS Central Science combines a chemical sensor with photography to detect and identify different nerve agents — odorless, tasteless chemical weapons that can cause severe illness and death, sometimes within minutes.

Daniels Receives 2018 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award

Daniels Receives 2018 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award

Mathematician Mark Daniels is one of 27 University of Texas faculty members chosen to receive prestigious 2018 Regents' Outstanding Teaching Awards. The awards recognize innovative teaching and commitment to student success. They each will receive $25,000 in recognition of their commitment to student success.

Fish’s Use of Electricity Might Shed Light on Human Illnesses

Fish’s Use of Electricity Might Shed Light on Human Illnesses

Brienomyrus brachyistius, commonly known as the baby whale.

Deep in the night in muddy African rivers, a fish uses electrical charges to sense the world around it and communicate with other members of its species. Signaling in electrical spurts that last only a few tenths of a thousandth of a second allows the fish to navigate without letting predators know it is there. Now scientists have found that the evolutionary trick these fish use to make such brief discharges could provide new insights, with a bearing on treatments for diseases such as epilepsy.

DNA Barcodes That Reliably Work: A Game-Changer for Biomedical Research

DNA Barcodes That Reliably Work: A Game-Changer for Biomedical Research

This illustration shows the most common structure of DNA found in a cell, called B-DNA. Credit: Richard Wheeler (Zephyris). Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license.

In the same way that barcodes on your groceries help stores know what's in your cart, DNA barcodes help biologists attach genetic labels to biological molecules to do their own tracking during research, including of how a cancerous tumor evolves, how organs develop or which drug candidates actually work. Unfortunately with current methods, many DNA barcodes have a reliability problem much worse than your corner grocer's. They contain errors about 10 percent of the time, making interpreting data tricky and limiting the kinds of experiments that can be reliably done.

Physicists Catch Higgs Boson Interacting with Top Quarks

Physicists Catch Higgs Boson Interacting with Top Quarks

Artistic view of the Brout-Englert-Higgs Field. Image credit: Daniel Dominguez/CERN.

The ATLAS Collaboration, an international team of physicists including Peter Onyisi from the University of Texas at Austin, has announced the observation of Higgs bosons produced together with a top-quark pair. Observing this extremely rare process is a significant milestone for the field of high-energy physics.

A Change in Bacteria’s Genetic Code Holds Promise of Longer-Lasting Drugs

A Change in Bacteria’s Genetic Code Holds Promise of Longer-Lasting Drugs

An alteration in the genetic code of bacteria holds promise for protein therapeutics. Credit: University of Texas at Austin.

By altering the genetic code in bacteria, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have demonstrated a method to make therapeutic proteins more stable, an advance that would improve the drugs' effectiveness and convenience, leading to smaller and less frequent doses of medicine, lower health care costs and fewer side effects for patients with cancer and other diseases.

Gravitational Wave Event Likely Signaled Creation of a Black Hole

Gravitational Wave Event Likely Signaled Creation of a Black Hole

The merger of two neutron stars (top) that generated gravitational waves, announced in fall 2017, likely did something else: birthed a black hole. This newly spawned black hole would be the lowest mass black hole ever found. X-rays from the resulting object a couple of weeks after the merger (bottom left) and more than three months later (bottom right), suggest the object is not a neutron star, but rather a black hole. Illustration credit: CXC/M. Weiss. X-ray image credit: NASA/CXC/Trinity University/D. Pooley et al.

The spectacular merger of two neutron stars that generated gravitational waves announced last fall likely did something else: birthed a black hole, according to a team of researchers including Pawan Kumar and J. Craig Wheeler of The University of Texas at Austin. This newly spawned black hole would be the lowest mass black hole ever found.

Could a Digital Version of this Part of the Brain Be Coming Soon?

Could a Digital Version of this Part of the Brain Be Coming Soon?

The cerebellum (red) directs many of the movements we make often, yet don’t have to think about. Photo credit: Database Center for Life Science. Used via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.1 Japan license.

For decades, Michael Mauk, a neuroscientist at the University of Texas at Austin, has been developing a computer simulation of the part of our brains called the cerebellum that directs many of the movements we make often, yet don't have to think about, like walking or picking up a glass of water.

Mostly Science or Mostly Fiction? We Put these 2018 Summer Movies to the Test

Mostly Science or Mostly Fiction? We Put these 2018 Summer Movies to the Test

Summer blockbuster season is here, and an impressive crop of films feature science concepts. We sat down with scientists at the University of Texas at Austin to find out how close to reality the movie magic really is. So, grab some popcorn as we dust off our Science Truth Detector and see which 2018 films offer up sound science this summer.