Researchers, scholars and experts from The University of Texas at Austin are sought by news outlets every week for their knowledge, expertise and insights. Here’s a selection of recent media hits.
The Myth of Race in the Age of President Barack Obama
U.S. News and World Report
The concept of race is a myth, says history professor Jacqueline Jones. Jones’ book, “A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race from the Colonial Era to Obama’s America,” chronicles the lives of six Americans, over four centuries, to demonstrate the application of the concept. Last month, she sat down with U.S. News to discuss her new book and the origins of the myth that race is a biologically determined characteristic.
Malpractice reform, a decades-long debate, may be ripe for compromise with the current changes in the health care system. Often known as medical tort reform, malpractice reform has seen changes in states like California and Texas, but attempts to pass similar federal regulations have failed since the 1970s.
Professor Bill Sage published an essay in the journal Health Affairs calling for the government to now step in. Specifically, Sage proposes doctors and the federal government strike a deal that would appease physicians, while physicians would agree to larger health care system changes like bundling services instead of fee-for-service. Sage believes it will pave the way for more affordable health care.
PBS NewsHour spoke with Sage to learn more about his proposal. Read the interview.
UT Law Magazine: William Sage
5 Predictions for the Year Ahead in Energy and the Environment
NPR’s State Impact
Earlier this month at the annual Webber Energy Group research symposium, professor Michael Webber, deputy director of the Energy Institute, provided his five energy and environment predictions for 2014, acknowledging that “Predictions are often wrong.”
Webber’s five predictions, as reported by State Impact Texas, are: exploding trains; less flaring; a sunny forecast for solar; more gas, less coal; and a cage match over exports.
Longer term, Webber says water will become more valuable. “I think water will join petroleum as one of the world’s great strategic resources,” Webber said. “Oil and gas companies will become Oil, Gas and Water companies.”
Could life exist elsewhere in the universe? The odds are getting better all the time. Water and carbon, two of the essentials for life, can be found almost everywhere. How abundant life actually is is still a 50-50 proposition. But, UT scientist Andrew Ellington remains upbeat. Ellington and his colleagues hope to create a proto-cell in the lab that could represent the earliest life forms.
More Religiously Conservative Protestants? More Divorce, Study Finds
Los Angeles Times
In a study to be published in the American Journal of Sociology, sociology professor Jennifer Glass finds a “puzzling paradox” of why divorce is more common in religiously conservative states. Glass and another researcher “discovered that people living in areas with lots of conservative Protestants were at higher risk of getting divorced, even if they weren’t conservative Protestants themselves.”
Glass also found that it was not poverty nor higher rates of marriage that drove up divorce in “red” counties.
Love Struck: Bats Attack Frogs after Eavesdropping on Their Serenade
Nature World News
A team of researchers, including biologist Mike Ryan, have recently discovered frogs singing love songs to potential mates end up prime targets for hungry bats. The newly published study reports bats can detect ripples created by the frog when serenading, even after it stops “singing.”
“A general theme of this research is that the way we communicate with any kind of a signal is by creating a disturbance in the environment,” said Ryan. “When we vocalize, we’re causing changes in the air pressure around us and that’s what our ears hear. When we use visual signals, light bounces off whatever pigments we’re using and is transmitted to the receiver. Anything we do disturbs the environment, whether it’s intended as a communication signal or not.”
Front page image by Ryan Taylor, Salisbury University.