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A five-year analysis of an event captured by a tiny telescope at McDonald Observatory and followed up by telescopes on the ground and in space has led astronomers to believe they witnessed a giant black hole tear apart a star. The work is published this month in The Astrophysical Journal.

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Kidnappings. Guerillas. Impenetrable jungle. The Darien Gap is famous for many things. This 60-mile-wide swath of rainforest straddling the Panama-Colombia border has long been the stomping ground of drug traffickers and guerillas, most notably the left-wing FARC, who until 10 years ago were still conducting high-profile kidnappings of foreign travellers seeking to tackle this notoriously dangerous part of the world. Flash forward a decade and scientists working just outside the gap discovered that, while there were still occasional reports of violence, things were now relatively peaceful in the gap.

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As classes start back for the spring semester, hundreds of first-year students are embarking on hands-on research projects as part of the Freshman Research Initiative (FRI). This year, FRI will celebrate its 10th anniversary. In honor of that milestone, we visit with some of the alumni of the FRI program, like Human Development and Family Sciences senior Elvira Marquez.

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Students from The University of Texas at Austin won $100,000 in seed funding for developing an idea for a smart phone app that would use artificial intelligence to help Texas residents get information about health care, food assistance and other social services in partnership with the United Way for Greater Austin’s 2-1-1 Navigation Center.

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Experiential learning in the College of Natural Sciences includes the nation's largest effort to involve first-year students in meaningful research, the Freshman Research Initiative (FRI). In the spring, hundreds of first-year students join one of 27 unique research streams for real, hands-on encounters with meaningful research questions that need answering.

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Meet Spencer Wells (B.S., '88), National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and founder of the Genographic Project.

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Have you ever been working on a document on your computer and it suddenly crashes? Maybe the power goes out or there's a software glitch that causes it to freeze and you lose everything you've been working on for the past hour. New research published today in the journal Nature Communications might eventually lead to computers and other electronic devices that don't have this vulnerability.

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Were still at the beginning of 2015, but this is when its hardest for a lot of people to stick to to their New Years resolutions. The good news is recent work by UT Austin researchers studying human development, biology, nutrition, and the brain can help you make the scientific case for following through on plans you made to change this year. 

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Harrington Fellowship Supports Three Natural Sciences Graduate Students

Three winners of the university's most prestigious fellowship program, the Donald D. Harrington Fellows Program, are currently working in the College of Natural Sciences. The three graduate students—from California Institute of Technology, Georgia State and The University of Texas at Austin—are researching how planets form beyond our solar system, how our brains make associations between rewards and the environments in which we get them, and how corals respond and adapt to changes in their environment.

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Physicist Peter Onyisi, assistant professor in the College of Natural Sciences, was part of a team at CERN working with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) that discovered something that looked like the Higgs boson particle.