Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (April 2002)

Science news and science current events archive April, 2002.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from April 2002

Pittsburgh chemist wins national award for tailor-making polymers
Krzysztof (Kris) Matyjaszewski of Pittsburgh will be honored April 9 by the world's largest scientific society for his innovative approach to making finely crafted polymers, compounds such as plastics, high-tech lubricants, even pharmaceuticals. He will receive the 2002 Award in Polymer Chemistry from the American Chemical Society at its national meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Rare rocks offer a unique glimpse of the Earth's core
Rare grains of metal from California and Oregon are providing new clues about the origin of the Hawaiian Islands - and fueling old controversies about the evolution of the Earth's core.

Tobacco industry strategies for influencing European community tobacco advertising legislation
A public-health article in this week's issue of THE LANCET highlights how the tobacco industry lobbied individual member states of the European Community to prevent the introduction of a total ban on tobacco advertising in 1998.

New power plant combustion model lowers pollutant emissions at affordable cost
Engineers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have developed a unique combustion method that results in lower power plant pollutant emissions by combining stage-combustion with nitrogen-enriched air.

Marijuana's impact on intelligence
Peter Fried and colleagues report that light and former use of marijuana does not appear to have a long-term effect on intelligence, while heavy use appears to be detrimental.

Other highlights in the April 17 issue of JNCI
Other highlights include a study suggesting that natural sex hormones may be associated with breast cancer risk, a study suggesting that a recombinant diptheria toxin fusion protein may be a potential therapy for brain cancer, and a study suggesting that increased expression and activation of the interleukin-6/STAT3 signaling pathway may be associated with ovarian cancer.

Mexican Americans more likely to die of heart disease than Caucasians
For years, scientists have been puzzled by reports that Mexican Americans, who have high rates of obesity and diabetes, are less likely than Caucasians to die from heart disease. Now a new study challenges the so-called

Young adults don't heed warning message of heart attack or stroke in family
A heart attack or stroke in a close family member should send a signal that one is at higher risk of suffering the same fate and provoke healthier, risk-reducing behaviors -- at least according to theory. Yet a new study reveals that the potentially lifesaving message may be lost on young adults.

Getting the facts on firearms straight
The assumption that bullets found at a crime scene can be chemically matched to those in a suspect's possession, is plain wrong, according to an American forensics consultant. Nobody knows how many verdicts have been based on such evidence but there are fears that the technique may have directly or indirectly led to numerous miscarriages of justice.

Narcolepsy more common in men, often originates in their 20s
A Mayo Clinic study reports that narcolepsy, a sleep disorder, is more common in men and originates in their 20s.

Ice coring team heads for Alaskan glaciers
Glaciologist Lonnie Thompson hopes that once his latest expedition ends in early summer, he will have one of the so-far missing pieces to the global climate change puzzle -- a record of ancient weather trapped inside ice from Alaskan glaciers that could date back thousands of years. Thompson, professor of geological sciences at Ohio State University, is leading the expedition -- his 44th -- next week to a rugged and remote region of the Wrangell-St. Elias Mountain range on the U.S.-Canadian Border.

Schenectady chemist wins national award for research with students
Thomas C. Werner of Schenectady, N.Y., will be honored April 9 by the world's largest scientific society for conducting notable research using undergraduate students as assistants, choosing projects that help them explore a wide range of chemistry. He will receive the 2002 Award for Research at an Undergraduate Institution from the American Chemical Society at its national meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Gender differences in math interest and performance
Contrary to widely held belief, girls are not under-performing in middle school and high school math; girls' and boys' achievement in math classes is virtually the same. But girls seem to have less interest in the subject.

Glutathione depletion in chronic alcohol abuse makes lungs vulnerable to life-threatening diseases
Chronic alcohol abuse causes a profound deficiency of the antioxidant glutathione in the lungs, generating a marked susceptibility to serious lung diseases, according to research at Emory University School of Medicine and the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

American Thoracic Society Journal news tips for April (first issue)
Newsworthy research includes studies showing a relationship between cat allergen concentrations in the home and asthmatic disease among sensitized women; how initially missed diagnoses and missed treatment for tuberculosis patients were common and strongly associated with in-hospital death, according to a 17-hospital Canadian study; and how bacterial infection in the lower respiratory tract is closely linked to both inflammation and abnormal pulmonary function in children with cystic fibrosis.

Emory researchers study low testosterone and Parkinson's disease in men
Emory University researchers may have found a common but heretofore unrecognized link between low testosterone levels and certain non-motor symptoms (fatigue, depression, anxiety or sexual dysfunction) in male Parkinson's disease (PD) patients.

Osteoarthritis and genetic link
Findings based on hand radiographs point to regions of chromosomes associated with this common disease.

Gene study determines how humans are related to fruit flies and nematode worms
The most comprehensive genetic study to date concerning the evolutionary relationships among the three animal species whose genes have been completely sequenced--human, fruit fly, and nematode worm--has determined that the human species is more closely related to the fruit fly than to the nematode. The study, based on 100 genes, overturns a popular hypothesis, based primarily on the study of a single gene, with important implications for fields such as medicine and developmental biology.

High Hep C levels found among young low-income women
UCSF researchers have found that low-income women between the ages of 18 and 29 in San Francisco are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) at a level almost two and a half times higher than the HCV infection rate for the general population in the United States.

Fantastic Voyage -- Filled buckeyball now a step closer to becoming a drug-delivery device
Virginia Tech Ph.D. student Erick B. Iezzi has developed the first organic derivative of a metallofullerene. He has figured out how to make the metal-filled buckeyballs soluble, bringing them a step closer to biological applications, such as the delivery of medicine or radioactive material to a disease site.

Classroom management linked to lesser teen alienation from school
To an extent never reported before, schools that have classrooms where students get along with each other, pay attention, and hand in assignments on time could be a key to reducing teenagers' risk for violence, substance abuse, suicide, and pregnancy.

First discovery of an immune system counter attack in the virus wars
In their endless war against the immune system, viruses rapidly evolve new evasive strategies. But scientists have uncovered the first genetic evidence of counter attack by the beleaguered immune defenses: Immune proteins that viruses once exploited have apparently evolved the ability to call in attacks against their former exploiters.

Salamanders change spots: Was it environmental stress?
Salamanders with unusual, asymmetrical spots have been found in a pond adjacent to an Ithaca, NY golf course. Cornell University biologists who compared the amphibians with older, symmetric specimens gathered from the same pond 60 years ago believe this signals environmental stress.

Ultrasound senses 'feel' of breast lesions
New and promising ultrasound techniques devised at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering can

New research adds to evidence that acetaminophen may prevent colon cancer in lab animals
Research findings presented at the International Symposium on Antimutagenesis and Anticarcinogenesis at New York Medical College suggest that acetaminophen, the medicine in Tylenol, may have powerful protective effects on colon cells exposed to a cancer-causing agent.

Society for Women's Health Research sponsors 3rd Annual Conference on sex and gene expression
The Society for Women's Health Research will be sponsoring the third annual Conference on Sex and Gene Expression (SAGE III) from April 4-7, 2002, in San Jose, CA. A summary of talks given at the conference will be made available.

The indestructible sandwich
Survival on the battlefield is about to become more bearable with the military's latest invention: the indestructible sandwich. Capable of withstanding airdrops and extreme climates, the new

Parents recognise benefits of postmortems
Parents who have lost a baby view the postmortem examination as a useful and necessary tool in helping to discover the reasons why their baby died, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

Smithsonian calls for renewed international cooperation in sharing biodiversity information
The second annual Smithsonian Botanical Symposium on 5-6 April 2002 is entitled

Study of vision disorder leads to discovery of new family of ion channels
Efforts to understand the most common cause of vision loss in millions of elderly people have led to the discovery of an entirely new family of chloride ion channels that are found in animals from worms to humans. HHMI scientists have discovered the first new chloride ion channel since the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator was identified more than ten years ago.

Artificial organs
The man who grew a human ear on the back of a mouse may have brought the prospect of building an artificial liver a step closer. By using 3D computer modelling, he believes he has solved the problem of growing complex networks of blood vessels, which artificial organs need to survive within the body.

New patient survey puts a human face on overcoming depression
The ability to fully engage in and enjoy family, personal and community activities is a critical milestone on the way to overcoming depression, according to the first survey to define treatment success through the eyes of people with depression. Nearly one-third of people who achieved virtual elimination (remission) of their depression symptoms said the strongest indicator of living depression-free was the ability to re-engage in family life, followed by hobbies and community service.

Study finds widespread sympathetic nerve damage in Parkinson's disease
A new study shows that Parkinson's disease causes widespread damage to the sympathetic nervous system, which controls blood pressure, pulse rate, perspiration, and many other automatic responses to stress. Findings also show that this damage is unrelated to treatment with the most commonly used Parkinson's drug, levodopa. (Neurology, April 23, 2002.)

UPCI presents study on dendritic cells in prostate cancer
The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute is presenting findings at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in San Francisco, April 6-10. One finding relates to the discovery that prostate cancer tumors inhibit the growth of dendritic cells and induce apoptosis in dendritic cells. The study suggests that the generation and function of dendritic cells is significantly suppressed in prostate cancer.

Texas A&M chemist wins national award for new ways to analyze molecules
D. Wayne Goodman of College Station, Texas, will be honored April 9 by the world's largest scientific society for developing techniques to scrutinize catalysts -- chemistry's orchestrators, which help make everything from gasoline to pharmaceuticals -- in ever greater detail. He will receive the 2002 Arthur W. Adamson Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Surface Chemistry from the American Chemical Society at its national meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Clinical depression may have negative effect on periodontal treatment
Researchers found depressed patients have twice the odds of sub-optimal outcomes from periodontal treatment over one year compared to patients without depression, according to a recent study in the April Journal of Periodontology.

Leptin linked to obesity and blood clots
High levels of leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells in the body, could explain why obese people develop dangerous blood clots -- which can cause heart attacks and strokes - more often than people who are not overweight.

Chicago chemist wins national award for new research methods
Bipin V. Vora of Des Plaines, Ill., will be honored April 9 by the world's largest scientific society for exploring new, more efficient ways to make chemicals from petroleum, such as laundry detergent that breaks down into harmless substances in the environment. He will receive the 2002 Award in Industrial Chemistry from the American Chemical Society at its national meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Super-fast flashes could help scientists see into a nucleus
By using an ultra-powerful laser to set off energy bursts lasting a tiny fraction of a second, scientists may soon be able to see -- and perhaps control -- what happens in the heart of an atom, its nucleus.

Of 101 neonates at a New Jersey hospital, 40 percent test positive for drugs of abuse
Results argue for more funding of rapid-screening technology for infants and better educational outreach for mothers-to-be, say researchers.

Cells in patients' noses hold potential to restore function in spinal cord injury
Implanting olfactory ensheathing glial cells into the spinal cords of paralyzed adult rats has been shown to promote neuronal cell repair and restore function.

Researchers identify compounds that might help in spinal cord repair
Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have identified a set of compounds that appear to overcome an important barrier to regenerating damaged nerves. Their findings could lead to new treatments for spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis and other neurological conditions.

CONTOUR ships to the Cape
All ready for its long-awaited trip, NASA's CONTOUR spacecraft left home in Maryland today for Cape Canaveral,site of its scheduled July 1 launch toward an unprecedented comet study.

Most distant group of galaxies known in the universe
Using the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT), a team of astronomers from The Netherlands, Germany, France and the USA have discovered the most distant group of galaxies ever seen, about 13.5 billion light-years away. This structure provides the best opportunity so far for studying when and how galaxies began to form clusters after the initial Big Bang, one of the greatest puzzles in modern cosmology.

Duke leads studies to detect hidden targets with robotic sensors
A vision of futuristic robotic aircraft and land vehicles that can sense and close in on targets hidden in trees, caves or bunkers is being explored by a new four-university research initiative led by Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering.

New report explains ice-age mystery
University of California researchers have solved a longstanding mystery for scientists trying to understand how Earth's climate can quickly shift between cold and warm modes. The mystery revolves around the source of a rapid change in the geochemistry of oceanic carbon that occurred just as the last ice age ended, between 16,000 and 20,000 years ago.

UCSD high-speed internet enabled bus
Engineers at UCSD have unveiled the world's first bus that enables its passengers to access the Internet and download files at a peak speed of 2.4 Megabits per second--even while the bus is moving. The broadband wireless bus dubbed the 'CyberShuttle' combines a fully mobile 802.11b wireless local area network inside the bus, with Web access through QUALCOMM's CDMA2000 1xEV wireless wide area data network installed on the campus.

Amphibians and crippling parasites
In recent years, the frequency of malformed frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians found with missing limbs, extra limbs, and skin webbings has increased. The shrinking populations of many North American amphibian populations underscore the need to understand the causes and implications of this phenomenon. Now a new study suggests that a parasite may be to blame for many of the abnormalities found in amphibians of the western United States.

Finding tiny particles in hurricanes may help with predictions
NASA-funded scientists are looking at microscopic ice particles inside hurricanes to determine if they contribute to the storm's strengthening or weakening. Researchers have discovered that greater numbers of ice particles higher up in a hurricane reflect more energy from the Sun out to space, creating a temperature difference that helps power the hurricane. The particles could also indicate a loss of energy into the surrounding atmosphere.

Castro, baseball and chemistry: nurturing Cuban-American scientific partnerships
Cuban scientists, working at some 230 research centers nationwide, have developed a meningitis vaccine, improved therapies for speech- and hearing-impaired children and enhanced treatments for sleep apnea and psychiatric disorders. Cuban scientists and scientists with Cuban connections will discuss topics ranging from chemical education to fostering Cuban-American research partnerships.

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