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From the College of Natural Sciences

This is the Point of Discovery Podcast brought to you by the College of Natural Sciences Communications Office.

Jekyll and Hyde Bacteria (Audio)

To study diseases, biologists often make models, for example, a rat with a disorder similar to Alzheimer's. With a good model, they can tinker with different variables and see if anything halts the disease, without the ethical limits of experimenting on actual humans. But scientists studying an especially nasty bacterium that tends to invade and breed out of control in the lungs of people with cystic fibrosis (CF) kept hitting dead ends in their search for a good model.

Saving the Bees, Two Perspectives (Audio)

As bees sharply decline around the world, two researchers are taking very different approaches to understand -- and potentially reverse -- this troubling trend. One is studying the microbes that live inside bees and help protect them against infections. The other is studying the links between changing landscapes and bee health. Learn more about the two professors of integrative biology featured in today's show: Shalene Jha and Nancy Moran.

Pyramid Probe (Audio)

What would you do if you had Superman's x-ray vision? In today's episode of the Point of Discovery Podcast, we talk to a physicist about how he's using his superhuman powers to explore the insides of ancient Mayan pyramids without digging.

The Race for Dark Energy (Audio)

This is the second of a three-part series on general relativity.

Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, which describes how gravity works, turns 100 this month. The theory has successfully explained a lot of what we observe out in the universe; but there are signs that it's incomplete. In the 1990s, astronomers observed that the expansion of the universe is speeding up, as if some mysterious force is pushing everything apart faster and faster. Nearly 20 years later, one of the biggest unanswered questions in science is: what is this dark energy? Not only was dark energy not predicted by general relativity, but its mere existence might mean that the theory needs to be tweaked or even replaced.

The Case of the Missing Folate (Audio)

When Richard Finnell first met her, Rachel was a nine-year-old girl with severe developmental delays. Her condition seemed to be caused by a deficiency in a critical B vitamin called folate. Yet she had plenty of folate circulating in her blood. Somehow it was vanishing before it got to her brain and spine. Eventually Finnell made a surprising discovery. He's now using new genetic tools like CRISPR to better understand her condition and test possible therapies.

Cocktail Party Effect (Audio)

How do we manage to follow a conversation with a friend in the middle of a noisy room? Neuroscientists, like Nace Golding, are still working out the details—but what they've learned so far is pretty amazing.

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Fun With Chemistry (Audio)

Meet chemistry faculty member Kate Biberdorf, founder of the wildly popular outreach program Fun With Chemistry. Learn more at: Fun With Chemistry

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Beauty and the Yeast (Audio)

Despite a billion years of evolution separating us from the baker's yeast in our refrigerators, hundreds of genes from an ancestor that we share live on nearly unchanged in us both, say biologists at The University of Texas at Austin. Read more about Edward Marcotte and his team's research: Partly Human Yeast Show A Common Ancestor's Lasting Legacy

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Behind every scientific discovery is a scientist (or 12) and a story. “Point of Discovery” takes you on a journey beyond WHAT we know to HOW we know it. Along the way, listeners will meet the sometimes quirky, always passionate people whose curiosity unlocks hidden worlds.

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Marc Airhart
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Point of Discovery is part of the Texas Podcast Network, brought to you by The University of Texas at Austin. Podcasts are produced by faculty members and staffers at UT Austin who work with University Communications to craft content that adheres to journalistic best practices. The University of Texas at Austin offers these podcasts at no charge. Podcasts appearing on the network and this webpage represent the views of the hosts, not of The University of Texas at Austin.