Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (April 1998)

Science news and science current events archive April, 1998.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from April 1998

Asthma Patients' Histories Can Predict Future Risk
Johns Hopkins researchers have uncovered a simple way to predict which adult asthma patients are likely to run into asthma problems within the next year and possibly could benefit from different strategies to manage their disease.

This Year, Earth Day Is All Wet
Almost three-quarters of the planet is covered by water, and that water's vital importance to daily life is the focus of this year's Earth Day, which comes during the International Year of the Ocean.

Emphasis On The Need To Win Not The Key To Long-Term Success
Most American children know that winning is important. But coaches and parents can do more for young athletes by reducing the pressure to win and giving them other ways to define success, say two sport psychologists who have advised youth, college and Olympic programs.

K-State Professor Earns Award To Study Power Systems' Control
Now that the government has flipped the switch on utility regulation, the character of the entire power system could change. Shelli K. Starrett, engineering professor at Kansas State University, is the single investigator in charge of a project focusing on power systems stability and control, her area of emphasis.

Television, Movies Help Children Picture Germs
When asked to explain their conceptions of germs, bacteria and viruses, children participating in a new University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study relied on television advertisements for toothpaste and household cleaners. The study, which compared children's and adults' beliefs about disease, found discrepancies between medical facts and participants' knowledge.

UCSF Researchers Identify Mutations In Gene Causing Hereditary Form Of Childhood Rickets
Last fall, researchers at UC San Francisco announced that they had identified an elusive gene critical for vitamin D metabolism. Now they have identified mutations in that gene, paving the way for genetic diagnosis of a hereditary form of childhood rickets.

U-M Engineers Win Army Grant To Build Artificial Eye
The University of Michigan College of Engineering has been awarded a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Army to design an artificial eye on a microchip---a first-of-its-kind optoelectronic device capable of sensing and processing light. The research could help the military conduct the most accurate remote visual sensing yet.

Increased Public Access To Defibrillation Could Prove Potentially Cost-Effective And Life-Saving
DALLAS, April 7 -- When the heart stops, help is needed immediately. But in many states, legislative barriers that restrict the use of medical devices to re-start the heart may inadvertently lead to thousands of deaths each year, according to a

Rockefeller University Researchers Hunt For Type 2 Diabetes Susceptibility Genes
The Rockefeller University is looking for people with type 2 diabetes to participate in a study aimed at determining the genetic causes of early- and late-onset forms of the disease. The study is part of the research program of the university's Starr Center for Human Genetics.

Structure Of Tumor Necrosis Factor-Alpha-Converting Enzyme Solved - Milestone Toward Rational Drug Design For Rheumatoid Arthritis And Endotoxic Shock
The crystal structure of the catalytic domain of human necrosis factor-alpha-converting enzyme was solved by scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried/Germany, in cooperation with researchers from Immunex/Seattle, Wyeth-Ayerst/New York, and the Max Planck Research Unit for Proteindynamics at DESY/Hamburg. The results were published in PNAS (1998), 95 (7), 3408-3412.

Successful Cancer Therapy May Doom Later Treatments To Failure
Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School researchers have found that as solid tumors shrink, so do the pores in the blood vessels surrounding the tumors. This prevents some therapies from reaching their targets. The findings suggest a fundamental change in the approach to designing chemotherapy agents.

UCSF Psychologist Ignites Darwinian Renaissance
Is a dog's wagging tail or a cat's purring a sign of affection? Can animals experience emotions? Are expressions universal? Find out the answers in Charles Darwin's, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, edited by Paul Ekman, PhD, UCSF professor of psychology.

Weizmann Scientist Receives Grant From Ovarian Cancer Research Fund
A grant has been awarded to Weizmann Institute scientist, Prof. Yosef Yarden, by the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund to seek genetic markers for early detection of ovarian cancer.

To The South Pole On MBone: First Live Multicast Connection
The first multicast video and audio link to the South Pole officially has opened for business, linking the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and scientists at the U.S. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. The Internet's Multicast Backbone technology -- MBone for short -- allowed the link, a method far less expensive than any other for exchanging live sound and pictures between remote locations.

Nearly Half Of Nation's Teachers Worry About Children Entering Kindergarten
Nearly half the nation's teachers are concerned about children now entering kindergarten, according to a new survey by the National Center for Early Development and Learning. Teachers most frequently say children's ability to follow directions and academic skills are inadequate.

NIH AIDS Researcher Receives Immunology Award
William E. Paul, Chief, Laboratory of Immunology and former Director of AIDS Research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health, has been awarded the 1998 Abbott Laboratories Award in Clinical and Diagnostic Immunology. This award honors a scientist in the field of clinical or diagnostic immunology who has made significant contributions to understanding the immune system.

Chocolate Treats Can Land Racehorse Trainers In Trouble
Chocolate could land a competitive racehorse into trouble with officials. Researchers here found that three horses fed a vending-pack of M&M¹s® chocolate-coated peanuts every day for eight days showed detectable concentrations of the stimulants caffeine and theobromine -- substances that are banned for horses that compete in races.

A Cloud Of Water In Interstellar Space
A team of U.S. astronomers, led by Cornell University astrophysicist Martin Harwit, has discovered a massive concentration of water vapor within a cloud of insterstellar gas close to the Orion nebula. The amount of water measured is so high -- enough to fill the Earth's oceans 60 times a day -- that the researchers believe it provides an important clue to the origin of water in the solar system.

Lower Meat And Butter Intake Linked To Sharp Fall In Deaths From Heart Disease
Social and economic transformation in Poland has been unusually rapid. Zatonski et al suggest that the consequent changes in eating habits may be responsible for the strikingly sharp decline in deaths from heart disease since 1991.

From Scientific Discovery To Practice-What Does It Take To Bring About Changes In Health Care?
The effective translation of research findings into health care practice is an issue of great interest to the public and the Congress. This process is a challenge not only to researchers, but also to the health care system and those working with it.

Smoking's Effects On Pregnancy Not Mitigated By Prenatal Vitamins, UB Study Finds
Pregnant women who continue to smoke, thinking their prenatal vitamins will offset the known adverse effects of smoking on the developing fetus, are deluding themselves, a new study by University at Buffalo researchers shows. Risk of adverse outcomes was higher among smokers than non-smokers and the risk for smokers was similar, whether or not they took vitamins.

Nanoscience Building Dedication Brings NSF's Lane To Rice
Neal Lane, director of the National Science Foundation and White House science adviser, will deliver a lecture,

Environmental Statistics
One Day open meeting following Novartis Foundation Symposium. An international, interdisciplinary group of professional and academic statistitians will present papers on: a)the gathering of data on environmental effects and b) the impact of this data on the formulation of environmental policy by government agencies.

Researchers Track Cause Of Energy Loss In Superconducting
High-temperature superconducting materials have almost limitless potential but are often less

CDC Lab Chief Receives Award In Clinical Microbiology
Richard R. Facklam, Chief, Laboratory Section, Childhood and Vaccine Preventable Disease Branch, Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has been awarded the 1998 Becton Dickinson and Company Award in clinical microbiology. This award honors a distinguished microbiologist identified with clinical microbiology.

Anti-Clotting Drug May Cause Potentially Fatal Platelet Disorder
Ticlopidine, a drug widely used to prevent stroke as well as blood clot formation following placement of cardiac stents, can cause thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, a rare but potentially deadly circulatory disease.

New Sunspot Cycle To Be Bigger Than Average
The current sunspot cycle will be above average but no record setter, according to NASA research to be published in the Journal of Geophysical Research. Although the level of activity in space may not be a record, it still may be quite disruptive on Earth because of our increased dependency on satellite communications, cellular phones, and power systems - each of which can be adversely affected by solar storms.

Childhood Disability Policies Should Focus On Low-Income Children, According To UCSF Study
Policies to prevent and rehabilitate childhood disabilities should target disadvantaged children -- children below the poverty level -- according to an analysis by health policy experts at the University of California San Francisco and the University of California Los Angeles.

Automation In The Court: Court Officials Fight Crime With Information Technology
Officials in Georgia's state, superior and juvenile courts are using the latest in information technology to help put a lid on crime. Several counties this summer will gain online access to a new management information system that will for the first time allow counties to systematically pool information about criminal activity and other courts-related matters.

Heart Laser Surgery: An Alternative To Transplantation
Heart laser surgery replaces transplantation in patients with severe coronary artery disease. Patients receiving Transmyocardial Revascularization (TMR) experienced survival rates of 85% which compares favorably with survival at 1 year post transplant. TMR offers an alternative to transplant patients without the side effects of immunosuppression therapy and mortality associated with waiting for a transplant.

How Do Bacterial Cells Respond To pH?
One day open meeting following Novartis Foundation Symposium. An international and interdisciplinary group of experts will give papers on topics including: how human pathogens withstand the acidity of the stomach; the role of bacteria in soil pH and hence crop production; and microbial degradation of alkaline industrial waste

Naturally Produced Enzyme May Be Useful In Inflammatory Arthritis
Researchers have discovered a potential method to help treat inflammatory forms of arthritis by using an enzyme naturally produced by the human body. Researchers found that the enzyme neutral endopeptidase (NEP) could reduce some of the effects of inflammatory arthritis.

Jefferson Scientists Devise Way To Treat Animals Chronically Infected With Hepatitis B
Scientists may have helped devise a new way to fight chronic hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) virus infections in humans. By interfering with a specific step in the life cycle of the woodchuck hepatitis virus, the virus can't reproduce, shutting down its ability to infect a cell.

Lewis Thomas Prize Honors Ernst Mayr: Award From The Rockefeller University Recognizes Scientists As Poets
Evolutionary biologist and author Ernst Mayr, Ph.D., is the recipient of the 1998 Lewis Thomas Prize: Honoring the Scientist as Poet. The prize, which honors scientists for their literary achievements, is awarded by The Rockefeller University.

NSF Scientist Receives Award In Research Training Of Minorities In Microbiology
Luther S. Williams, Assistant Director for Education and Human Resources, National Science Foundation, is the first recipient of the William A. Hinton Research Training Award. The Hinton Award, which honors an individual who has made outstanding contributions toward fostering the research training of underrepresented minorities in microbiology, will be presented at the General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), May 17-21, 1998 in Atlanta, Georgia.

National Research Project Focuses On Nuclear Reactors
Purdue University researchers are leading a national effort to ensure the safety and efficiency of the next generation of nuclear power plants. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has established the Institute of Thermal-Hydraulics at Purdue's School of Nuclear Engineering.

Mammography Quality Law Has National Implications
According to a new analysis, Michigan's strict mammography regulations, enacted in 1989 and beefed up in 1994, improved the quality of mammograms and did not limit access to the cancer-screening procedure. These findings are significant beyond Michigan's borders, because federal mammography standards have been enacted which closely mirror the Michigan model.

Penn Researchers Strike Post-Surgical Pain Before It Starts With Preemptive Medication
Reducing post-operative pain can be as easy as taking pain medication before surgery. Dr. Allan Gottschalk and his colleagues have found that administering preemptive analgesia in patients prior to surgery decreases pain afterward. Their findings could potentially change the standard of care for some surgical patients.

Quirky Outburst Has MIT Researchers Hot On The Trail Of A Black Hole
An MIT physics professor leads a team of international researchers who have first dibs on a quirky outburst of x- rays seen April 1 -- the first possible new black hole detected by the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) since its launch in December 1995. RXTE for the first time gives scientists almost complete coverage of x-ray sources in the sky.

Possible Trigger For Heart Failure Identified In Lab Animal Studies
DALLAS, April 14 -- Researchers have demonstrated in laboratory animals that tumor necrosis factor alpha, a protein produced in the heart, can lead to congestive heart failure. The finding may pave the way for a new treatment for the nation's fastest-growing heart disease. The studies, from two different research teams, appear in today's Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Taller Does Not Necessarily Mean Happier, A New UB Study Of Growth-Hormone Patients Shows
Although popular culture continues to presume that height is a measure of personal satisfaction in life, a new study by a team of psychologists and endocrinologists at the University at Buffalo refutes the idea that taller is necessarily better. The study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Extra Choline During Pregnancy Enhances Memory In Offspring
Pregnant rats fed extra doses of an essential nutrient called choline produced offspring whose brain circuits were

Researchers Help NASA Unite Computers, People In Mission Control
Researchers at Ohio State are helping NASA scientists develop computer systems that communicate important information as flexibly and efficiently as people do. The study examines how space shuttle flight controllers in NASA mission control in Houston gather important information from computers and from each other.

Starry Dream In Chile To Become High-Tech Telescope Reality
When officials in Cerro Pachon, Chile, ceremonially break ground for the new SOAR telescope Friday (April 17), a 12- year-old dream among research astronomers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will become a reality.

Poison-Eating Bugs Strike Gold
Australian scientists have discovered indigenous microbes capable of devouring toxic effluent from gold extraction.

Higher Prices Won't Stop Teenage Smokers
Boosting taxes on cigarettes will have a far less dramatic impact on rates of teen-age smoking than politicians are hoping, a new Cornell University study finds. In fact, say the researchers, higher taxes will have

Two UT Southwestern-Trained Payload Specialists To Study The Nervous System Aboard Space Shuttle Columbia
When the next flight of space shuttle Columbia goes into orbit April 16 on board will be two payload specialists who trained in space medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. They will conduct experiments aboard Spacelab, the shuttle's scientific laboratory, on a flight dedicated to the study of the nervous system in space.

Brown To Speak At Minorities-In-Bioscience Luncheon
Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr. will be the guest speaker at a minority student luncheon designed to draw minority college students into careers in biomedical research, Wednesday, April 22, at noon at the ANA Hotel, Metropolitan III in San Francisco.

Before It's Off The Ground: Better Analyzing Proposed Technologies In Aviation, Aerospace; Preview At Montreal Convention
LINTHICUM, MD, April 22 - The Aviation System Analysis Capability (ASAC) , which helps aerospace and aviation companies better understand the economic impact of proposed projects, will be previewed at the Montreal conference of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) and the Canadian Operations Research Society (CORS).

Cambodia - After The Killing Fields
Nathanson recounts her recent visit to the minefields of Cambodia and recalls some of the scenes that she witnessed. She juxtaposes the positive images of the excellent rehabilitation work carried out by international agencies with the desperate realities of a struggling healthcare system. 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