Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (2001)

Science news and science current events archive 2001.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from 2001

NASA second generation reusable rocket program opens its doors at Marshall Center
NASA has created a new program office to lead its effort to enable development of a new reusable launch vehicle for flight in 2010 that will be dramatically safer and less expensive than today's rockets.

Researchers build on discovery of potent potential antibiotic
Building on recent discovery of a potent potential antibiotic, University of Michigan College of Pharmacy researchers have found a previously unknown family of metal- requiring enzymes in bacteria. They have also demonstrated that the antibiotic compound they are studying effectively inhibits enzymes in this family.

The first cuneiform digital library on the internet
Researchers see new possibilities in reconstructing knowledge of early cultures / Cooperation among the Berlin Vorderasiatisches Museum, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and the University of California at Los Angeles.

Gamma-ray bursts may originate in star-forming regions
New findings from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Italian Space Agency's BeppoSAX satellite suggest that gamma- ray bursts, some of the most intense blasts in the universe, may be created in the same area where stars are born.

Gene therapy for muscular dystrophy
In a study of Muscular Dystrophy, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have found that a common delivery system used in treating the disease through gene therapy may trigger an immune response in mice unless it is used in combination with a muscle-specific promoter that localizes the expression of genetic material. In their published findings, the Penn researchers state that it is

Geophysicist studies life in the early solar system
Between the cataclysmic impact that created the Moon around 4.5 billion years ago and the first evidence of life 3.8 billion years ago, there may have been long periods during which life repeatedly spread across the globe, only to be nearly annihilated by the impact of large asteroids. The early Earth, in other words, may have been an interrupted Eden.

First report on sublethal effects of smoke available from NIST
Smoke inhalation is the leading cause of U.S. fire deaths, but smoke doesn't have to kill you to cause problems during a fire emergency. NIST and the National Fire Protection Association have unveiled the first progress report of a multi-year initiative to define what is known about the sublethal effects of smoke. In this story from the NIST UPDATE newsletter, find out what the researchers learned and how to get a copy of their report.

Short legs associated with precursor of diabetes and heart disease
Short-legged men have an increased risk of heart disease and a condition that leads to diabetes, insulin resistance syndrome, shows research in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Do-it-yourself tooth bleaching kits may cause problems without supervision
People who want to brighten their smiles are opting for over-the-counter bleaching kits instead of visiting their dentist's office. While generally safe, these products have the potential to cause an infection or nerve damage, say UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas oral surgeons.

Manufacturers, researchers urged to monitor polymer synthesis as it occurs
Polymer chemists will speed discovery, improve quality control, and reduce waste and byproduct production if they observe what they are doing as they do it. Researchers who use in-situ infrared spectroscopy during the synthesis of materials, rather than doing the spectroscopy afterwards, can see the new molecular structures form in real-time.

Experts discuss recommendations of NY state task force on genetic testing
A symposium on May 30 at NYU School of Medicine will discuss the NY State Task Force's recent recommendations for safe and effective genetic testing. Sponsors are: The Master Scholars Program at NYU School of Medicine, New York Academy of Medicine, and the NY State Task Force on Life and the Law.

Global Nursing Partnerships conference addresses international nursing shortage
International nursing experts and healthcare planners from around the globe will meet at The Carter Center in Atlanta to tackle the global nursing workforce crisis. The conference is the first ever global invitational forum involving representatives from both governments and nursing associations, including government chief nursing officers, national and international nursing association leaders, and human resource directors/health planners.Representatives from more than 50 countries will attend. Former President Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu will speak.

Island study suggests predators key to healthy ecosystem
A study of animals and plants isolated since 1986 on small islands in Venezuela has yielded strong evidence that predators play a key role in perpetuating the diversity of plants and animals.

INEEL requests design proposals for new subsurface geosciences laboratory
The Subsurface Geosciences Laboratory (SGL) at an estimated total project cost of $140 million to $170 million, will offer unique research capabilities needed to address the Department of Energy's environmental missions. The new facility will enable researchers to advance the fundamental understanding of biological, geological, chemical, and physical processes that affect contaminant behavior in the subsurface. INEEL plans to select the architects for conceptual design in June 2001.

Doubling of deaths from liver cancer in last 30 years
Deaths from liver cancer have almost doubled in the past 30 years, shows research in Gut. A relatively rare type of liver cancer arising from the bile ducts-intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma-accounts for virtually all of the increase.

University of Pittsburgh leads major national study on treating patients who have diabetes and heart disease
Recruitment has begun for a national, 40-center study that will determine the best way to treat patients who have coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes. CAD is the top killer of people with type 2 diabetes. The University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health is coordinating the study.

Concerns over commerical control of medical research
In response to concerns about the increasing influence of sponsors in medical research, several international medical journals, including the BMJ, have taken steps to restrict the publication of research that is not independent.

Mutant proteins may be key to defeat chemical warfare
Enzymes -proteins commonly used to speed up chemical reactions - can render chemical warfare agents and insecticides harmless by breaking them apart. A group of chemists at Texas A&M University is now genetically modifying one of these enzymes, phosphotriesterase, to make it both faster and more selective.

Energy density: a new way to look at food
Just in time for New Year's resolutions, a new book from Mayo Clinic is available to help potential dieters stay on track. The book, Mayo Clinic on Healthy Weight, recommends paying close attention to the

INEEL uses ethanol to reduce petroleum consumption, cut exhaust emissions
A different blend of gasoline is being pumped into government vehicles at the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory. It's reducing petroleum consumption and helping the INEEL cut air emissions without additional fuel costs.

Genome project finds the 'triggers' for E. coli illness
The newly completed genomic sequence of E. coli O157:H7 reveals how these potentially deadly bacteria are armed with a surprisingly wide range of genes that may trigger illness.

Benefits from Alzheimer's plaque-producing reaction? Science study proposes role in gene expression
The molecule that spawns

Synthetic clay could assist radioactive waste cleanup
Researchers from Pennsylvania State University supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) have performed an important step in the drive to remove environmentally harmful materials from waste streams and drinking water.

Neuroscientist at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center
The Michael J. Fox Foundation awarded a researcher from Rush- Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago a grant to study whether gene therapy can be used to treat neurological diseases, including Parkinson's Disease.

Medication prevents osteoporosis in men treated for prostate cancer
One of the fastest-growing osteoporosis risk groups consists of men with prostate cancer who receive androgen-deprivation therapy to lower testosterone levels. In the Sept. 27 issue of New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital describe how the drug pamidronate prevented bone loss in prostate cancer patients treated with what are called GnRH agonists.

Phased-out Bt corn variety dramatically cut growth rate of black swallowtail caterpillars
Pollen from a Bt corn variety carrying a now-phased-out genetically inserted pesticide known as event 176 dramatically reduced growth rates among black swallowtail caterpillars in University of Illinois field tests, researchers report. The UI findings are in one of six related papers being releasd early by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Emerging trends: Scientific evidence in the courtroom
A dialogue between criminal justice professionals including prosecutors, judges, and forensic scientists, and the academic community including psychologists, molecular biologists, and biotechnologists, to foster and develop questions for future research on the role of science and scientists in the criminal justice system.

Improving industrial prospects for new superconductor MgB2
The industrial prospects for Magnesium Diboride (MgB2), the common laboratory chemical turned superconductor 'discovered' in January this year, appear to be more encouraging following the demonstration that introducing internal structural defects could improve its performance in practical applications such as hospital Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners.

Sky survey lowers estimate of asteroid impact risk
The odds of earth suffering a catastrophic collision with an asteroid over the next century are about one in 5,000, which is less likely than previously believed, according to research published this month. Astronomers using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey found that the solar system contains about 700,000 asteroids big enough to destroy civilization. That figure is about one-third the size of earlier estimates.

Seventy-year quest for galactic dark matter ends with discovery of population of cool white dwarfs in the halo of our galaxy
Astronomers from UC Berkeley, Edinburgh, Cambridge and Vanderbilt report the first direct detection of dark matter in the halo of our galaxy, in the form of ancient cool white dwarfs. The discovery opens a window onto the early history of our galaxy, said UC Berkeley post-doc Ben Oppenheimer.

Many law enforcement officers leave loaded guns unlocked
While publicly promoting firearm safety, some law enforcement officers do not store their guns safely at home. A new study of officers at one Southern law enforcement agency found 44 percent store their weapons both unlocked and loaded.

August media highlights - GEOLOGY and GSA TODAY
August GEOLOGY Highlighted Articles: -Demonstration of significant abiotic iron isotope fractionation in nature. -How many Pacific hotspots are fed by deep-mantle plumes? -Metal leaching and inorganic sulfate reduction in volcanic-hosted massive sulfide mineral systems -Paleoclimatic significance of Phanerozoic reefs -Low seismic-wave speeds and enhanced fluid pressure beneath the Southern Alps of New Zealand -New evidence for the geological origins of the ancient Delphic oracle (Greece). August GSA TODAY Highlight: Rock Varnish: Record of desert wetness?

New O.R. model tackles conflicting demands of Section 8 housing, communities
A new operations research model helps planners resolve the conflicting demands of Section 8 housing families and host communities by developing a variety of alternate relocation plans, according to a study published in a journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMSĀ®).

Have DNA lab, will travel: mobile unit first of its kind
In a facility believed to be the first of its kind, a mobile laboratory used to collect DNA material from endangered species is now in operation at Texas A&M University. The 28- foot long moving facility is being used to gather genetic materials from animals that could ultimately face extinction.

World's largest scientific society receives presidential honor
President Bush today presents the American Chemical Society with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. The Society is one of ten institutions receiving this prestigious award Wednesday, December 12 at the St. Regis Hotel.

Epimmune scientists report positive pre-clinical data on vaccine designed to combat HIV's ability to mutate
Epimmune Inc. announced positive pre-clinical data on its HIV vaccine that is designed to directly address the problem of viral mutation. At the Keystone Symposium:

European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology international conference
Over 4,000 international fertility experts meet in Lausanne, Switzerland, 1-4 July 2001 to present the latest research findngs in reproductive medicine and debate the scientific, clinical and ethical issues.

Experiments indicate normal visual experience necessary for proper brain development
Duke University Medical Center researchers have developed evidence in animal experiments indicating that - while the brain's structures are prewired to enable development of the visual system - normal visual experience is required for complete maturation. Without such visual experience, the scientists' experiments indicated, the visual system fails to establish proper connections and is incapable of normal function.

Chronic Lyme disease symptoms not helped by intensive antibiotic treatment
The New England Journal of Medicine reports findings that an intensive 90-day course of intravenous and oral antibiotics was no better than placebo at helping patients with chronic symptoms of Lyme disease. The findings will appear online and in July 12th print editions.

Mayo Clinic study: Echocardiogram spots risk of valve narrowing, stroke
Standard echocardiograms which image the heart using ultrasound waves -- much like the ultrasound images used during pregnancy to monitor fetal development -- can be used as a screening tool to spot aortic valve abnormalities and to identify people at high risk for stroke and heart valve disease, according to a Mayo Clinic study published in September's Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Research to fine tune studies of geologic time
Research by a Virginia Tech geological-sciences graduate student has more closely defined the environmental effect on organisms over time, a step that will help in such fields as evolutionary biology, paleontology, paleoecology, and paleo-environmental interpretation. It can, for example, help oil companies with mapping.

Back to Sleep campaign not as successful for African-Americans
The national Back to Sleep campaign has been credited with recent declines in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. But a new study from the University of Michigan shows that the campaign has been more successful for some racial and ethnic groups than for others.

Organic Letters' impact factor speaks volumes
Organic Letters, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, is one of the top 10 journals in organic chemistry, according to the 2000 Institute for Scientific Information Journal Citation Reports.

Two Rensselaer scholars receive Fulbright Student Awards
Two Rensselaer graduate students, Dean Nieusma and Elizabeth Press, have been awarded prestigious Fulbright student grants to do research and to study abroad. They are the first Rensselaer students to receive the awards, which were recently announced by the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

A blueprint for better cholesterol-lowering drugs
A better strategy for developing more effective cholesterol- lowering drugs may come from the work of HHMI researchers who have produced the first studies of the structural mechanism by which the widely prescribed statin drugs, such as Lipitor and Zocor, lower cholesterol.

Effective acne treatments remain elusive, Hopkins researchers find
After a half-century of looking at everything from Accutane to zinc, dermatologists still can't prove which acne treatments and drugs work best, a team at Johns Hopkins Children's Center finds after combing the scientific literature.

Substantial increase in childhood obesity since 1984
The prevalence of obesity in children is low, but it has increased substantially since 1984, according to a study in this week's BMJ.

Heart treatment gap closes with standardized care
A pilot in-hospital program helped close a treatment gap in heart disease prevention by significantly increasing the number of heart attack patients who followed American Heart Association secondary prevention guidelines.

Babies' hands move to the rhythm of language
Babbling is thought to mark the developmental moment when a young child embarks on the road to spoken language. Now, new insight into why this behavior occurs can be found in the hands of hearing babies as they acquire a natural signed language. A Dartmouth researcher has found that babies are born with sensitivity to highly specific rhythmic patterns so powerful that they display the rhythms of language with their hands even without vocal input.

Do the effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol differ by culture?
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a preventable neurodevelopmental disorder.
  • Most studies of FAS have been conducted in western countries and cultures.
  • A first-of-its-kind study has examined FAS children in a South African community. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to