The Daily Texan

All content by Robert Starr
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After four years, writer has column down to a science

May 8, 2015

Editor’s note: A 30 column is a chance for departing senior staffers to say farewell and reflect on their time spent in The Daily Texan’s basement office. The term comes from the old typesetting...

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Science Buzz: Sexist reviewers, bullies, universal blood and smartphone pain relief

May 4, 2015

Editor’s note: In this recurring column, science writer Robert Starr rounds up the previous week’s top science stories. Have a suggestion? Send a tweet to @RobertKStarr, and your link...

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Science Scene: Vaping not as bad as smoking, but still raises health concerns

April 29, 2015

Cigarette use in teenagers fell by over 40 percent from 2011–2014, according to a survey the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and FDA released this past month. That’s the good news. The...

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Science Buzz: Invisibility, homeopathy hearings and bees

April 27, 2015

Editor’s note: In this recurring column, science writer Robert Starr rounds up the previous week’s top science stories. Have a suggestion? Send a tweet to @RobertKStarr, and your link might...

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Science Buzz: Dog bonding, dark matter interactions and eating crickets

April 20, 2015

Editor’s note: In this recurring column, science writer Robert Starr rounds up the previous week’s top science stories. Have a suggestion? Send a tweet to @RobertKStarr, and your link might...

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Science Scene: Scientists dream of understanding why we dream

April 15, 2015

You may not understand why you dreamed about riding Bevo naked down Sixth Street last night, but neither do the best scientists in the field of dream research. Scientists have several theories on why...

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Science Buzz: Brontosaurus revenge and Daspletosaurus bites, exercising spouses, fast-food recovery and eating out

April 13, 2015

Editor’s note: In this recurring column, science writer Robert Starr rounds up the previous week’s top science stories. Have a suggestion? Send a tweet to @RobertKStarr, and your link might...

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Science Buzz: The LHC is back, free apps aren’t free, rats and Texas tarantulas

April 7, 2015

Editor’s note: In this recurring column, science writer Robert Starr rounds up the previous week’s top science stories. Have a suggestion? Send a tweet to @RobertKStarr, and your link might...

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Science Scene: Sexual attraction based on cultural and individual preferences

April 1, 2015

With Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” hitting the top of the charts, it was only a matter of time before scientists looked into whether “boys like a little more booty to hold...

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Science Buzz: Twin astronauts, water shortages, Martian marathons and too much math homework

March 30, 2015

Editor’s note: In this recurring column, science writer Robert Starr rounds up the previous week’s top science stories. Have a suggestion? Send a tweet to @RobertKStarr, and your link might...

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Science Buzz: 3-D printers, untraditional tongues and very resilient beetles

March 23, 2015

Editor’s note: In this recurring column, science writer Robert Starr rounds up the previous week's top science stories. Have a suggestion? Send a tweet to @RobertKStarr, and your link...

Distractions in lecture lead to D-grades in class

March 5, 2015

1920s stage performer Harry Kahne, “The Man with the Multiple Mind,” had an act in which he would write five words on a chalkboard simultaneously, using chalk in both hands, both feet and his...

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Science Buzz: The dress that stopped the Internet, in vitro fertilization, p-values and video game AI

March 2, 2015

Editor’s note: In this recurring column, science writer Robert Starr rounds up the previous week’s top science stories. Have a suggestion? Send a tweet to @RobertKStarr, and your link might...

Science Buzz: HIV treatments and tasteless penguins

February 23, 2015

Editor’s note: In this new recurring column, science writer Robert Starr will round up the previous week's top science stories. Have a suggestion? Send a tweet to @RobertKStarr, and...

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Science Buzz: Droughts, Plastics, Vaccines and Lasers

February 16, 2015

Editor’s note: In this new recurring column, science writer Robert Starr will round up the previous week's top science stories. Have a suggestion? Send a tweet to @RobertKStarr, and your...

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Science Scene: Study sheds light on dark side of binge-watching

February 5, 2015

When the “Are you still watching ‘Glee’?” message pops up on your TV after 10 straight hours of powering through the second season, it’s hard not to think Netflix is judging...

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Science Scene: Donated blood goes on journey

January 22, 2015

Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series on blood donations. The first installment focused on what happens during the blood donation process. The second focuses on what happens to blood...

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Science Scene: Donating blood is A-Positive way to help others

January 21, 2015

Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series on blood donations. The second installment, which focuses on what happens to blood after it has been donated, will run in the paper tomorrow. Doctors...

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Science Scene: Condom failure could be attributed to incorrect application

November 20, 2014

A 2012 Huffington Post article named UT the number one “Most Sexually Liberated College” in the country. While this distinction has yet to make it into the Longhorn promotional materials for...

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Science Scene: UT postdoctoral student studies rapid evolution in lizards

November 6, 2014

As a child, Yoel Stuart played with snakes. Now as a postdoctoral researcher at UT, he plays with anole lizards as a scientist. A recent study he worked on has received a lot of attention after his...

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Ouija board illusion is a result of ideomotor effect

October 23, 2014

With the iOS 8 update this week, UT students can now use their new iPhones to purchase snacks at vending machines across campus, and this is in addition to the set of features that allows owners to communicate...

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Stradivarius violins don’t separate themselves in terms of sound from new violins

October 9, 2014

ACL kicked off with a bang last weekend and will conclude this weekend with its raucous embodiment of the “work hard, play hard” UT mentality. In our world of Spotify, earbuds and iPhones,...

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Researchers look for the best strategy to beat the class curve

September 25, 2014

When classes are graded on a curve, friends can turn to foes. Two students can study together, but there’s often still an element of distrust. When one of the students tells another a piece of information,...

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Science Scene: “Freshman 15” is closer to “Freshman Five”

September 18, 2014

Of all the myths that strike fear into incoming freshmen — hours of dry textbook reading, choosing the wrong major, ending up with a homicidal roommate — none inspire more terror than the dreaded “Freshman...

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Despite claims, handwriting is not a window to the soul

September 11, 2014

From love letters hesitantly passed across middle school classrooms to cryptic prescriptions scrawled by doctors, handwriting has long been overanalyzed. Statements like, “Look at the way he...

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Science Scene: Helping Others Increases Happiness

September 4, 2014

The average social media stream as of late has been overrun with people, across all ages, genders and backgrounds, taking the “ice bucket challenge.” The specifics of the challenge vary, but...

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Keyboards use QWERTY for historical reasons rather than practical

August 28, 2014

Back in 2010, Austin was home to the Ultimate Typing Championship, where the winner, Sean Wrona, typed an extremely difficult passage full of unusual symbols and punctuation with an average speed of 124...

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Science Scene: Need a shot of inspiration for that essay due tomorrow? Maybe try a shot of vodka

August 4, 2014

“Write drunk; edit sober” is often attributed to Ernest Hemingway, even though he never said it. Still, there may be something to the sentiment. Hemingway was certainly known for his indulgences...

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Science Scene: Sick of breathing air? Try fluorocarbons.

July 21, 2014

Science doesn’t need to justify itself. Much like climbing Mount Everest because it was there, there’s a solid amount of research that was done just because the scientists could. A stand out...

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Summer has finally started in Austin; here’s how to not get burned.

July 14, 2014

After a tough winter full of snow, ice, thunder, sleet and other weather phenomena we didn’t know existed, Austin has finally made it to summertime. With day after day of 90+ degree weather...

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Study: sexual arousal may lower the disgust impulse

July 7, 2014

“Be careful what you click” — so begins the first lesson of Internet browsing. That link from a friend could very well be exactly what she says it is, but, then again, it might not be....

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Preventing Star-Spangled Barkers

June 30, 2014

While we, the humans, may sit in awe on Fourth of July, admiring the rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air, many dogs don’t feel the same patriotism. It’s not difficult to see...

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Good friends share laughs, tears and possibly yawns, too

June 16, 2014

Babies yawn. Animals yawn. In a way, fish yawn, and so do fetuses, though there’s some debate on the subject. You yawn when you’re bored in class or when you’re tired at the end of a...

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Second Season of “Orange” First Rate

June 16, 2014

For whatever flaws “Orange Is the New Black” may have had during the first season — and there weren’t many — the diversity and energy of the cast weren’t among them....

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Science Scene: Could Z’s lead to A’s?

May 1, 2014

Final exams are almost here, which means it’s time to choose between sacrificing either sleep or study time, unless there’s some way to combine the two. Maybe, just maybe, if you listen to...

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Evidence doesn’t support roommate menstrual cycle synchronization

April 24, 2014

In 1971, Martha McClintock published a pilot study in Nature science journal as a sole author. This is an impressive feat, even for tenured professors, but she pulled it off as an undergraduate. The...

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Science Scene: Cell phone users oblivious to unicycling clown

April 17, 2014

If you walked around Western Washington University during the spring of 2009, you might have noticed a clown unicycling around the plaza.  But, then again, you might not have. The clown was...

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Science Scene: Practice makes roughly 30 percent of perfect

April 3, 2014

The jazz legend Charlie “Bird” Parker once told an interviewer that he put in at least 11 to 15 hours a day on his saxophone for more than three years. That is more than the 10,000 hours writer...

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Science Scene: Dead fish reveal bad math

March 20, 2014

A study published in the now defunct Journal of Serendipitous and Unexpected Results featured researchers showing several pictures of people interacting to a subject who sat inside an fMRI machine that...

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Trolley problem reveals moral inconsistencies

February 27, 2014

A runaway trolley heads down the tracks, aimed at five innocent bystanders. In front of you lies a switch. Pulling it diverts the trolley to another track, where it will only hit one person. You have five...

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Science Scene: Researching Coriolis effect leaves scientists drained

February 20, 2014

Everything in Australia is backward: Its winter is our summer, cars drive on the left side of the road, mammals lay eggs and toilets flush in the opposite direction. Well, not quite on that last...

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Science Scene: Praying mantis won’t offer head to mates

February 13, 2014

Feb. 12 of every year marks Darwin Day, a holiday celebrating the anniversary of the birth of the famous scientist who offered what is, arguably, the single greatest theory of modern times. Natural selection...

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Science Scene: Babies and their toys shed light on gender differences

January 30, 2014

The triplewart seadevil can grow to 44 centimeters long, according to FishBase, but no male of the species exceeds 7.3 centimeters. The male finds a female seadevil, attaches himself to her and impregnates...

James Magnuson’s ‘Famous Writers’ entertains despite familiarity

January 21, 2014

Upon first arrival, Austin can be something of a shock. A pleasant one, but not one without its little quirks that we put up with, like strange roads that never lead where one wants them to and intense...

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Science Scene: Decision to circumcise is far from clear cut

January 16, 2014

The AIDS epidemic continues to devastate the world, particularly in Southern Africa, where the World Health Organization estimates that some countries have infection rates as high as 26 percent. Without...

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What to get for your techie friend:

December 6, 2013

Maybe these gifts are better asked for than given on a college budget.    Google Chromecast, Amazon.com, $35 When you’re spending time with your family, you might be stuck having...

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Science Scene: Gifts come with obligation

December 5, 2013

In a 1971 study, experimenters asked a subject to rate paintings alongside a confederate who pretended to be part of the study. During a break, the confederate would leave and come back with two sodas,...

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Science Scene: JFK assassination a conspiracy of one

November 21, 2013

Fifty years ago, Lee Harvey Oswald, a 24-year-old high school dropout, brought a high-powered rifle up to the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository and with three shots, changed the course of...

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Science with a little help from your friends

October 31, 2013

Comparing yourself to others is a recipe for low self-esteem. There’s an illusion that comes from comparing ourselves to those around us and it’s not just psychological: It’s mathematical. In...

“Now I Know” both interesting and addictive

October 21, 2013

The problem with most factoids is that they aren’t true. No, people don’t swallow eight spiders per year, NASA didn’t spend millions of dollars developing a pen that worked in space while...