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University of Texas

  1. Science Says Moderate Alcohol Consumption May Help You Live Longer

    So then heavy alcohol consumption leads to immortality? That's how that works, right?

    Cheers! A new study published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that drinking may help you live longer! Don't get too excited. It seems that only moderate drinking has this effect, so you can't just start chugging grain alcohol to become immortal. Yeah, we were disappointed, too.

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  2. Caffeine-Junkie Bacteria Discovered, Could Help Clean Up Water Pollution, Decaffeinate Drinks

    Fun fact: As much as I love to cook, and it's a lot, I would trade all food in a second if I could live by just drinking coffee, which is what I functionally do most days anyway. Now, researchers have used a breed of bacteria that lives that dream and is able to subsist on caffeine alone and unlocked the genetic mechanism that lets the microbes pull off that impressive feat. They've even  managed to transplant it into other organisms, which could one day lead to bacteria that can clean up caffeine that pollutes water supplies and even decaffeinates coffee for us. That is a wrong thing to do to coffee, of course, but it's still might impressive.

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  3. Watch This Animation of How a Virus Finds the Best Place to Infect a Cell [Video]

    The process that the viruses use to infect cells has been observed in new detail for the first time by researchers at the University of Texas, and as you might expect, it is super creepy. Keep reading for a video simluation of the process, in which the virus unfolds six hairlike feelers from its body -- like some terrible, invading War of the Worlds mech -- as it attaches to a cell, and then uses them to walk along the cell surface, probing and prodding until it finds the perfect site to deliver its infectious payload, turning an unsuspecting cell into a living nightmare death machine built only to create more viruses. On the plus side, this is strangely comforting, as it means that viruses work pretty much exactly like they do in our heads -- in the most troubling manner possible. On the minus side? EUUUUUUGGGGHHHH.

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  4. High School Gamers Better At Operating Robotic Surgical Equipment Than Surgeons

    Robotic surgical tools are giving doctors more insight and precision into the surgeries they perform than ever before, but with the technology still in its infancy, many surgeons are still struggling to master the skills they need to make the most of robotic surgery equipment. It turns out that surgeons using robots could take a pointer or two from video gamers, who, in a recent study, proved as good or better than their MD bearing counterparts in tests of the skills involved in robot-assisted surgery.

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  5. New Pain Relief Method Could Mean No Pizza Is Too Hot To Eat Ever Again

    In a stunning blow to the very heart of first world problems, a team of researchers from the University of Texas will present their latest development: An oral strip that dissolves in the mouth and numbs the pain brought on by eating, for example, a piece of pizza on which the cheese was still too hot. With this announcement, all of the important ailments of our world have been officially addressed by science. I guess we'll have to put these guys to work doing something boring like curing cancer, now.

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  6. Science Finds Smoking Really is Cool

    Remember in middle school when you tried smoking for the first time behind the gym in P.E. because your friend stole some of his older brother's cigarettes? Do you remember how, though you coughed a lot and it was mainly an uncomfortable experience, that kid you had a crush on walked by and you felt like the coolest middle schooler in the world? Well, you probably were pretty cool smoking that cigarette, because new studies show that the popular kids in the U.S. and Mexico are more likely to smoke cigarettes.

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  7. College Professor Hacks UAV Guidance System With Under $1,000 Worth of Equipment

    If you've been worried about the number of law enforcement agencies that want to use drones to surveil the domestic populace, then here's one more thing to freak out about: They are pathetically easy to hijack. In fact, a determined individual can do it with less than $1,000 worth of equipment.

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  8. Scientists Attempt to Induce Schizophrenia on a Computer

    A recent study by researchers at the University of Texas in Austin and Yale University sought to create the thinking of a schizophrenic mind on a computer using a virtual neural network. Their work is based on the so-called hyperlearning theory of schizophrenia, which holds that the disease springs from an inability to forget or ignore non-essential information. In their work, the research team taught a series of stories to a computer model they call DISCERN. Using natural language processing, the computer maps out the stories in a manner similar to the human brain. In their model, a simulated dopamine release is used to mark significant information as DISCERN learns the stories. To model hyperlearning, the team increased the dopamine releases. This meant DISCERN "forgot" less, and perceived more information as "important." When asked to recount the stories, the hyperlearning DISCERN produced bizarre and delusional narratives from the input information.

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  9. Eye-Tracking Projector Keeps Your Eye on the Game

    The best way to get really visually sucked into the game you're playing is to increase screen real estate; get a giant HDTV or a series of monitors. But a team from the University of Texas, Austin has unveiled a clever solution that uses a tiny projector to provide a huge viewing experience. In their demo, presented last week, they combined a tiny, motorized pico projector and an eye-ball tracking system with a parabolic screen. This keeps gamers' eyes on the action no matter where they look, and incorporates some unique Kinect-like controls to the game. Head on past the jump to see the demo in action.

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  10. Acheologists Uncover Five-Foot-Tall Ancient Penguin

    What's grey and white and brownish-red all over? This recently discovered extinct Peruvian penguin. Inkayacu paracasensis (a name that means 'water king,' how cool is that) lived during the late Eocene period, and was probably a very deep diver. Says Dr. Julia Clarke, leader of the University of Texas' study on the animal:
    One thing that's interesting in living penguins is that how deep they dive correlates with body size... The heavier the penguin, the deeper it dives. If that holds true for any penguins, then the dive depths achieved by these giant forms would've been very different.
    Paleontologists were able to figure out the color of the enormous bird because its feathers were fossilized along with its bones.

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