Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (2003)

Science news and science current events archive 2003.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from 2003

PET scans show cigarette smoke affects peripheral organs
Smoking cigarettes can directly and often fatally damage the lungs. But new research shows that cigarette smoke also decreases levels of a critical enzyme (MAO B) in the kidneys, heart, lungs, and spleen.

Immune alarm system can both amplify and silence alerts, scientists find
The immune system mobilizes one of the body's most important defensive systems -- the immune system cells known as T lymphocytes -- when T cells bump against another type of immune system cell, the antigen-presenting cell. Proteins on the surface of both cells reorganize and interact at the point of contact.

Use eggs, not embryos, to derive stem cells, say researchers
Concerns about the ethics of using embryos created to treat infertile couples for stem cell research is discussed by researchers at St Mary's Hospital, Manchester in this week's BMJ.

'Spintronics' could enable a new generation of electronic devices, physicists say
Physicists have discovered the equivalent of a new 'Ohm's Law' for spintronics - the emerging science of manipulating the spin of electrons for useful purposes. Unlike the Ohm's Law for electronics, the new 'Ohm's Law' says that the spin of the electron can be transported without any loss of energy, or dissipation. This effect occurs at room temperature in materials widely used in the semiconductor industry and could enable a new generation of computing devices.

Time flies
With fresh approaches to quantum gravity, the big questions about the beginning of the universe and the possibility of time and space as particles--once thought

Risk of sexually abused children becoming adult abusers lower than once thought
Authors of a UK study in this week's issue of The Lancet suggest that most male victims of child sexual abuse do not abuse children later in life-however there are specific factors that increase the chances of sexually abused children becoming abusers.

Surgery better than drugs for serious lack of blood flow to the heart
Surgery or angioplasty to improve blood flow in patients with moderate to severe levels of blood flow restriction to the heart reduces the risk of cardiac death more than medication alone, researchers report in today's rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Improved molecular beacons show promise for cancer detection, rapid viral diagnosis
Diagnosing cancer may one day involve introducing

NREL and company researchers team up on thin film solar cells
An Austin, Texas-based company is moving toward commercial production of advanced solar cells by using unique facilities and capabilities of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Short gaps between pregnancies linked to complications
Women with a very short interval between pregnancies are at an increased risk of complications such as premature birth, neonatal death, and low birth weight, say researchers in this week's BMJ.

Weizmann Institute Prof. Moshe Oren named winner of NIH MERIT Award
Prof. Moshe Oren, a cancer researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, was named a 2003 winner of the highly selective MERIT (Method to Extend Research in Time) Award. The award is granted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for

OneWorld Health licenses compounds from Yale, U of Washington to treat major parasitic diseases
The Institute for OneWorld Health has licensed highly potent azole compounds from Yale and the University of Washington that could result in new medicines for parasitic diseases, initially for Chagas, in the developing world, and new antifungals for the developed world. The compounds broaden OneWorld Health's product portfolio for Chagas disease, which afflicts up to 18 million people in Latin America, and at least 50,000 to 100,000 in the U.S. The license also creates a unique dual market opportunity.

Repeal of estate tax to increase tax burden and widen wealth gap
The federal government's most effective tool for reducing wealth inequality is the estate tax, but the tax is being phased out so that by 2010, the government will no longer collect taxes on the estates of the rich. Eliminating this important source of federal revenue, researcher Lisa A. Keister says, simply will create an economic burden for 98 percent of Americans to allow a tax break to the wealthiest 2 percent of the U.S. population.

BRCA2 mutations may be associated with some hereditary pancreatic cancers
Mutations in the breast cancer susceptibility gene BRCA2 may be associated with a predisposition to hereditary pancreatic cancer, suggests a new study in the February 5 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Cleaning up contaminated soil, groundwater
Geologists are helping scientists better understand how to keep contaminants from reaching groundwater during the clean up process. The problem requires many different approaches because there are hundreds of different types of contaminants and the soils and geology differ from place to place. One approach that has shown promise for some situations can be viewed as

Rutgers scientists post a genetic road map to sources of disease
Geneticist Tara Matise and colleagues have produced a map that will help pinpoint the genes linked to such serious diseases as diabetes, high blood pressure and schizophrenia. This linkage map is based on the amount of the interaction or recombination taking place among nearly 3,000 genetic markers whose positions are known. The markers used are single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).

Swedish researchers link endometriosis with increased risk of some cancers
Women with endometriosis have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, endocrine and brain cancers, according to Swedish research - report to European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology annual conference Wednesday 2 July.

Tiny protein prevents disease-related cell death
Researchers at The Burnham Institute found that humanin, a small, 24-amino acid protein recently discovered in studies of Alzheimer's, suppresses activation of the protein Bax. Bax triggers pathologic cell death in a number of diseases, including Parkinson's, stroke, heart attack and degeneration of ovaries during menopause. These results suggest a novel target for therapeutic design based on inhibiting the cell destructive activity of Bax.

Checking how cells grow
Research published today in Journal of Biology challenges an assumption about cell growth that underpins modern cellular biology. Ian Conlon and Martin Raff, of University College London, show that mammalian cells do not regulate their size in the way scientists have assumed they do since the 1970s.

Does television news turn people off politics?
Television news may be contributing to current political apathy, according to research at Cardiff University, UK. An in-depth study of more than 5600 TV news reports in both Britain and the USA between September 2001 and February 2002 reveals that the news media may be encouraging a disengaged citizenry by representing the public as generally passive and apolitical.

December Geology and GSA Today media highlights
The December issue of Geology covers a wide variety of subjects and includes several newsworthy items. Topics include: new evidence regarding thermal power of the K-T boundary impact event; causes of selective extinction in the early Jurassic; controversy over mammalian dispersal when India and Eurasia first collided; and evidence of wildfire impacts on dating of rocks. Two possible greenhouse events in the late Cretaceous are the subject of the GSA Today science article.

US air transportation system 'in peril' - report
A report released yesterday by the National Research Council found that the nation's air transportation system is

Study finds evidence for global methane release about 600 million years ago
Scientists at the University of California, Riverside and Columbia University have found evidence of the release of an enormous quantity of methane gas as ice sheets melted at the end of a global ice age about 600 million years ago, possibly altering the ocean's chemistry, influencing oxygen levels in the ocean and atmosphere, and enhancing climate warming because methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. The study was published in today's issue of the journal Nature.

ITA to AMA: Taxing tanning sends wrong health message to teens
The editorial in today's issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine calling for a 'teen indoor tanning tax' sends absolutely the wrong message to teenagers and their parents. We could not disagree more,

Pitt researchers find genes for depression; Play role in mood disorders, shorter lifespan
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have completed the first survey of the entire human genome for genes that affect the susceptibility of individuals to developing clinical depression, locating a number of chromosomal regions they say hold the genetic keys to a variety of mental illnesses, including major depression, certain addictions and even longevity.

EHelp donates RoboDemo software worth $75,000 at retail to UC San Diego
eHelp Corporation, the makers of RoboHelp, and University of California, San Diego (USCD) announced today a $75,000 donation in retail value of eHelp's RoboDemo eLearning Edition software to the university through the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology [Cal-(IT)²].

The mechanics of anti-tumor activity outlined
Inhibiting the growth and the angiogenic properties of cancer is an important modality for cancer treatment and research. In an article published today in the April issue of Cancer Cell (Vol. 3, No. 4, pg. 363), Winship Cancer Institute (WCI) researchers report that 2-methoxyestradiol (2ME2) inhibits tumor growth and angiogenesis by suppressing hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF).

Cancer could be caught before it develops
An article published in the journal BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making describes the creation of the first comprehensive listing and classification of precancers, drawn from the medical literature. Using this classification, the precancers have been organized into groups that share similar biologic profiles and, hopefully, similar treatments.

Researchers develop nanoscale fibers that are thinner than the wavelengths of light they carry
Researchers have developed a process to create wires only 50 nanometers (billionths of a meter) thick. Made from silica, the same mineral found in quartz, the wires carry light in an unusual way. Because the wires are thinner than the wavelengths of light they transport, the material serves as a guide around which light waves flow.

'Musical fruit' rich source of healthy antioxidants; black beans highest
Although researchers haven't come up with a foolproof way to avoid the indelicate side effect of beans, they have found yet another reason why you should eat more of them. In addition to their high fiber and protein content, a new study finds that beans, particularly black ones, are a rich but overlooked source of antioxidants and may provide health benefits similar to some common fruits, including grapes, apples and cranberries.

TSRI professor named industry pioneer in one of the top ten technologies that will change future
The Scripps Research Institute today announced that Professor James Paulson, Ph.D., has been chosen as a global leader in the field of glycomics by Technology Review, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's magazine of innovation. The magazine's February 2003 issue identifies ten emerging technologies it says will change the world. It is on newsstands January 21 and online now at

Other highlights in the August 20 issue of JNCI
Other highlights of the August 20 issue of JNCI include three articles on body mass index and risk of cancer, a study of Finnish immigrants suggesting that risk of testicular cancer may be determined early in life, a study reexamining the role of a carcinogen-activating enzyme in bladder cancer, and an analysis that doubles previous percentage estimates of hereditary adrenal gland tumors.

Rich, poor, the wait is the same
A new study in CMAJ reports that Canada's health system does a good job of providing equitable service in terms of waiting times for elective surgery.

UC scientists discover plant gene that promotes production of ozone-destroying methyl halides
A team of University of California scientists has identified a gene that controls the production by terrestrial plants of methyl halides, gaseous compounds that contribute to the destruction of ozone in the stratosphere.

Promising West Nile virus vaccine protects monkeys
Scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) have created a promising vaccine against West Nile virus by replacing parts of a distantly related virus with proteins from the West Nile virus. The NIAID research team replaced proteins in a virus known as dengue type 4 with the corresponding West Nile virus proteins, creating a hybrid virus vaccine that protects monkeys from West Nile infection.

Government regulations contribute to medical debt of uninsured and underinsured
A new Commonwealth Fund report, Unintended Consequences: How Federal Regulations and Hospital Policies Can Leave Patients in Debt, reveals some patients face unmanageable medical bills because unclear federal fraud laws and Medicare regulations may encourage providers to bill the uninsured more than those with insurance for the same service. To address this problem, CMS could clarify rules to address providers' concerns, and hospitals could establish standard criteria and simplify applications for free or reduced-cost care.

NPR's 'Living on Earth' series launches new segments on environmental research
Starting the week of May 9, NPR's environment program,

Should drug companies be allowed to talk to patients?
If people are to become more involved in their own health care, they must be able to gain access to high quality, balanced, accurate, and up to date information, but should this information come from drug companies?

Whale study links genetics and reproductive success
A recent study focusing on the humpback whales of the Gulf of Maine revealed that differences in reproductive success of whale mothers may play a significant role in changing genetic variation in the population, according to scientists. Specifically, certain maternal lines of whales have produced more calves than other lines in the past decade, a finding that uncovers the often-complex role of genetics and environment in the makeup of this population of long-lived mammals.

Symposium to investigate environmental health threats to children
A public meeting will be held to examine environmental health risks to children; address ways to translate science into action to protect children; and identify research gaps and developing plans to fill them and to discuss ways to better communicate risk through strengthened media relations .

New drug for non-small cell lung cancer shows efficacy
A new anti-cancer agent designed to block the signals responsible for telling cancer cells to grow has shown promising results for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

Jefferson lab staff develop and teach safety class at particle accelerator school
Attendees from across the Department of Energy complex, the Department of Defense, Rutherford Lab in the UK, and CERN in Switzerland attended this first-of-its-kind class. USPAS is a DOE sponsored program designed to teach basic and advanced accelerator engineering and physics subjects in an intense two-week curriculum. The school is based at Fermilab in Chicago. Classes are offered semiannually with the next set planned for Santa Barbara, Calif., in June 2003.

Researcher invents new graphing method
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have developed a new Diamond Graph method to replace the inaccurate and misleading three-dimensional bar graph, which is used in computer programs, scientific journals and newspapers to display financial, medical and other information. The new Diamond Graph could replace the traditional 3-D bar graph in software commonly used in business and science. A study is published in the August 2003 of The American Statistician.

Black soot and snow: A warmer combination
New research from NASA scientists suggests emissions of black soot alter the way sunlight reflects off snow. According to a computer simulation, black soot may be responsible for 25 percent of observed global warming over the past century.

July GSA BULLETIN highlights
The July issue of the Geological Society of America BULLETIN includes a number of potentially newsworthy items. Topics of particular interest include: development of Florida's coral reefs over the past 6000-7000 years; and evidence for an oceanic plate, now completely subducted, that stretched from Oregon to Alaska more than 50 million years ago.

The pressures of working at home
The quality of home life for homeworkers is the theme of an absorbing study carried out by Dr. Jeanne Moore and Tracey Crosbie of the University of Teesside, for the Economic and Social Research Council. Her work is likely to have widespread resonance among those who already work from home, and offers valuable insights to anyone considering the radical shift from workplace to homeworking.

Engineers take new look at strength of industrial glass
An Ohio State University engineer and his colleagues have discovered something new about a 50-year-old type of fiberglass: it may be more than one and a half times stronger than previously thought. That conclusion, and the techniques engineers used to reach it, could help expand applications for glass fibers.

Researchers challenge belief of how macrophage activity is controlled by biochemical brake pedal
A team of investigators at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has challenged a currently held belief about how immune system cells called macrophages control their biochemical activity after being stimulated by signaling proteins called cytokines. The researchers showed that a molecular

The NCOA and The Epilepsy Foundation launch initiative to educate about epilepsy in the elderly
Today at a media briefing in Boston, The National Council on the Aging (NCOA), The Epilepsy Foundation and UCB Pharma, Inc. announced an initiative to raise awareness of the national concern of epilepsy in the elderly and highlight the increasing incidence of the disorder in this population. The groups will address the challenges of treating elderly patients with epilepsy and improving their quality of life.

Kids exposed to violence have more behavioral problems
Children who observe violence or are victims of it show more behavior problems than other children, according to a study of 175 children aged 9 to 12. 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