Science

Fall is finally here. What does that mean for Texas’ drought?

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan has faced increasing pressure to resign since Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial – and a special session of the Legislature starts next week.

El Paso, a city with a reputation as welcoming to migrants, is now at a breaking point, according to its mayor. Angela Kocherga of KTEP El Paso has details.

About 24 million Texans are living through some level of drought right now, according to data from the U.S. Drought Monitor. What’s on the horizon as fall weather moves in?

The former Texas Memorial Museum on UT Austin’s campus, shuttered in March due to COVID and cutbacks, returns in grand style with a new name and focus.

The McDonald Observatory

(AKA the stars at night)

This Typewriter Rodeo poems celebrates one of Texas’ most beloved scientific treasures.

Adversarial Collaboration

It takes a lot of confidence and humility to admit when we’re wrong, and that is especially true when it comes to science. So in the edition of  Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman, Dr. Bob Duke, and  Rebecca McInroy are taking a moment to highlight one “Adversarial Collaboration” that could change the way we look at the relationship between money and happiness.

“Income and emotional well-being: A conflict resolved” by Matthew Killingsworth, Daniel Khaneman, and Barbara Mellers

A look back at the stories that shaped Texas in 2022

New laws that took effect, decisions from the courts that made history, the fight for social justice and more; it’s 2022 in review. With the Texas Legislature set to reconvene in just days, it’s worth looking back at how much Texas changed over the past 12 months, and what those changes may tell us about what’s to come in the new year. We’ll turn a spotlight on politics and a campaign season that didn’t turn out as expected, the economy, technology and much more as we reconsider the year that was across miles and miles of the Texas, today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: May 5, 2022

With the Supreme Court now widely expected to overturn Roe vs. Wade, new numbers of where Texans stand on the issue of Abortion. From abortion to border security, the state’s population growth and the economy, Texans weigh in on a range of issues that could have a profound effect at the polls come November. Jim Henson with the results of a new survey by the Texas Politics Project. Also, Texas’ attempt to treat gender-affirming care as “Child Abuse”. A new report examines the underlying scientific claims being made by officials leading the push. Plus, say cheese, Texas: why a place better known for its beef is challenging dominant states in the dairy business. All this and then some today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: June 23, 2021

Health experts are closely watching the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19. We’ll unpack the risk and the concern about further variants. Also, Texas Governor Greg Abbott latest moves are looking to some like a concerted effort ahead of the 2024 presidential race. The view from outside of Texas. And as America continues to re-examine monuments and building names honoring leaders in the Confederacy. Some everyday people are also reexamining their family histories. Plus we’ll fact-check a claim about how much border wall was built under the Trump Administration. And we’ll explore the impact of the pandemic on the therapists who’ve been walking us through the past year. All of that and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: June 22, 2021

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has multiple legal challenges and now multiple challengers for his seat within his party. We’ll take a look at who. Also, Texas college sports bring in big money. What’s an unanimous Supreme Court decision yesterday mean for athlete compensation? And Texas has lost more rural hospitals recently than any other state. So what’s that mean in an emergency? Plus dozens of Texas prisoners set for release or parole have died behind bars in the past year or so. A new study gets behind delays. And one Texas prison is cleared out to hold migrants. We’ll examine what issues might arise. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: March 3, 2021

A lifting of mask mandates and a 100% reopening of business effective a week from today. But many warn this is too much, too soon. Coming up details of the governor’s rollback of regulations on masks and occupancy levels in businesses. Plus reaction from the mayor of San Antonio and from listeners reaching out to us on social media at Texas Standard. Also, 50 Texas scientists pen an open letter to lawmakers urging them to think of the winter storm as a warning about climate change and what Texas needs to do to get ready. Plus a new documentary on regional cuisine digs deep into what it means to be Truly Texas Mexican. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Vaccines

The distribution of a vaccine is providing some light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. While that light is still in the distance and what we’ll find when we get to it is still unknown, this Typewriter Rodeo poem is focused on the hope of drawing nearer to it.

How Madame Curie’s Philanthropy Continues To Inspire

By W. F. Strong

A couple of years ago, there was a photograph published on Twitter of a group of radiation oncologists in the radiation treatment room at MD Anderson, all women, under the hashtag, “Women Who Curie.” They were celebrating the legacy of Madame Marie Curie and her pioneering work in radiology that daily inspires their mission. 

As I looked at the photograph of the nine doctors at MD Anderson, I realized that Madame Curie’s legacy was far greater than Nobel Prizes and scientific advancement.  She added the benefit of opening previously closed doors in science and medicine to women. Madame Curie was not just perceived as a female interloper seeking equality in disciplines generally reserved for men, but she was also an immigrant, a double minority at the Sorbonne. She was ignored and pushed aside and denied lab space and vital equipment. She succeeded by virtue of an iron will and unrelenting genius.  

Few people realize she passed up Bill Gates-type wealth by not seeking a would-be priceless patent for radium, the element she and her husband Pierre discovered. She said the element “belongs to the people.” That act of philanthropy paved the way for institutes like M.D. Anderson, and her pioneering work for women served to staff them with brilliant professionals, too. Sometimes I wonder how much further along the human race would be now had we not denied education to half of us for most of recorded time.  

One little known story about Madame Curie is that she feared at one point that she would not be able to complete her degree at the Sorbonne for lack of funds. She had resigned herself to the idea that she would have to remain in Poland and live a life as a tutor or a governess. 

Then came the miracle. She received, unexpectedly, the Alexandrovitch Scholarship of 600 rubles – about $300. She calculated that it was enough, if she lived meagerly, with little heat and less food, to complete her master’s degree. She did, graduating first in her class. And that was just the beginning. She would graduate a little over a year later with another degree in Mathematics. As soon as she took her first job, from her first paychecks, she pulled out 600 rubles and paid back the Alexandrovitch Foundation for the scholarship they had given her. This had never happened before. The foundation was shocked, but as Madame Curie’s daughter said of her mother: “In her uncompromising soul she would have judged herself dishonest if she had kept, for one unnecessary moment the money which now could serve as life buoy to another young girl.” Now, that’s paying back AND forward.  

Madame Curie went on to be the first female Ph.D. at the Sorbonne and the first female professor as well. In addition, she was awarded not one, but two Nobel Prizes, in different sciences – the first person, male or female, ever to achieve that distinction.  

So as I looked at the photograph of the women she inspired at MD Anderson, I thought of Madame Curie’s influential reach across a century, across vast oceans. MD Anderson doctors have received the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award from the American Association for Women in Radiology four times in twenty years.  MD Anderson also maintains a sister institutional relationship with the Maria Sklodowska-Curie Cancer Center in Warsaw. Marie is still enlightening minds, inspiring the academically marginalized and healing the sick, even here in Texas. 

Texas Standard: May 22, 2020

Potter County in the Texas Panhandle is seeing more than its share of Coronavirus cases, at least population-wise. We’ll get a look on the ground. Also, what’s voting going to look like in Texas come November? Turns out folks have very strong opinions about this. We’ll hear from some. And we’ll hear again from our go-to doctor for questions about the Coronavirus. One question for today? The risk of sending kids back to childcare. We’ll explore. And if your thumb has become a little greener during this pandemic, you’re not alone not now, and not historically. Those stories and more on today’s Texas Standard: