Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (April 2012)

Science news and science current events archive April, 2012.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from April 2012

Obesity epidemic in America found significantly worse than previously believed
The scope of the obesity epidemic in the United States has been greatly underestimated.

Where do the highest-energy cosmic rays come from? Probably not from gamma-ray bursts
Some rare cosmic rays pack an astonishing wallop, with energies prodigiously greater than particles in human-made accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider. Their sources are unknown, although scientists favor active galacti nuclei or gamma-ray bursts. If so, gamma-ray bursts should produce ultra-high-energy neutrinos, but scientists searching for these with IceCube, the giant neutrino telescope at the South Pole to which Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has made key contributions, have found exactly zero. The mystery deepens.

Gallbladder shown as potential stem cell source for regenerative liver and metabolic disease
A new study presented today at the International Liver Congress 2012 indicates the potential for gallbladder tissue (which is routinely discarded from organ donors and surgical interventions) to be a highly available candidate source for multipotential stem cells.

Longer breastfeeding with extended ART could reduce mother-to-child HIV transmission and improve infant survival
Giving antiretroviral drugs to HIV-infected mothers or their babies is highly effective at preventing HIV transmission through breast milk. However, stopping breastfeeding early (before six months) does not protect these children from HIV infection and significantly increases their likelihood of illness, growth problems, and death.

Animated characters keep it real in teen violence prevention videos
Briana and Damon could be the kids up the block. Briana does well in school and wants to follow in her sister's footsteps to college. Damon works hard at an after-school job in a local barbershop. They hang out with friends and try to stay out of trouble. But Briana and Damon have a mission. Voiced by Philadelphia teens, they are a pair of digitally animated street-smart characters with a Facebook page aimed at reducing urban youth violence.

UCSF artificial kidney project tapped for accelerated FDA program
A UCSF-led effort to create an implantable artificial kidney for dialysis patients has been selected as one of the first projects to undergo more timely and collaborative review at the Food and Drug Administration.

New form of Mars lava flow dicovered
High-resolution photos of lava flows on Mars reveal coiling spiral patterns that resemble snail or nautilus shells. Such patterns have been found in a few locations on Earth, but never before on Mars.

Study examines use of waist measures among overweight and obese adolescents
Waist measures (waist circumference, waist to height ratio) in conjunction with body mass index appear to be associated with lipid and blood pressure assessments among overweight and obese adolescents, according to a report published online first by Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, a JAMA Network publication.

Online tool can detect patterns in US election news coverage
Academics at the University of Bristol have developed an online tool, Election Watch, which analyzes the content of news about the US election by the international media.

Surprising results for use of dialysis for kidney failure in developing world
Researchers at Lawson Health Research Institute have discovered that developing countries have faster growing rates of use of home-based dialysis for kidney failure than the developed world. Despite home-based dialysis' reduced cost and better outcomes, developed countries are using this form of therapy less.

New study chronicles the rise of agriculture in Europe
An analysis of 5,000-year-old DNA taken from the Stone Age remains of four humans excavated in Sweden is helping researchers understand how agriculture spread throughout Europe long ago.

Kessler Foundation names Dr. John Whyte recipient of Foundation's 2nd Annual DeLisa Award
John Whyte, M.D., Ph.D., is the 2012 recipient of Kessler Foundation's Joel A. DeLisa, M.D., Award for Excellence in Research and Education in the Field of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. The award, which includes a $50,000 grant, was created by the Foundation to honor founding director Dr. DeLisa's many contributions to the field. Dr. Whyte was selected from an impressive pool of nominees for his significant contributions to advances in brain injury rehabilitation.

Sexually transmitted infections in adolescents in countries of all incomes remain a great concern, as does urbanization in low-income and middle-income countries
In a comment linked to the Lancet 'Series on Adolescent Health,' Professor Robert W Blum (Chair of the Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA) and colleagues highlight some of the major challenges facing adolescents today.

Unruly kids may have a mental disorder
Thomas R. Insel, MD, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, will discuss signs of mental illnesses in young children and the importance of early diagnosis and intervention in his presentation,

UC Davis researchers create molecule that blocks pathway leading to Alzheimer's disease
UC Davis researchers have found novel compounds that disrupt the formation of amyloid, the clumps of protein in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease believed to be important in causing the disease's characteristic mental decline. The so-called

New online portal, app provide information on tsunami zones in the Northwest
A new suite of online portal and smartphone apps is providing information on tsunami zones in the US Pacific Northwest. The Pacific Northwest Tsunami Evacuation Zones online portal and free apps provide an at-a-glance view of tsunami hazard zones along the coasts of Oregon and Washington.

Marine scientists urge government to reassess oil spill response
On the second anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon blowout, a national panel of researchers including University of Georgia marine scientist Samantha Joye is urging the federal government to reassess how it would respond to similar oil spills that might occur in the future.

First CAMLS fellowship sponsored by simulation partner Simbionix
Simbionix, a leading global provider of medical education and simulation training, has sponsored the first fellowship at the USF Health Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation.

Scripps research scientists find anticonvulsant drug helps marijuana smokers kick the habit
Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute have found clinical evidence that the drug gabapentin, currently on the market to treat neuropathic pain and epilepsy, helps people to quit smoking marijuana.

UCLA Brain Injury Research Center gets NCAA funding for research on sports concussions
in an effort to better understand the long-term consequences of sports-related concussions, the National Collegiate Athletic Association is funding a study by a consortium of researchers who will examine the effects of head injuries on student-athletes over the course of their college careers and beyond.

Eating more berries may reduce cognitive decline in the elderly
Blueberries and strawberries, which are high in flavonoids, appear to reduce cognitive decline in older adults according to a new study published today in Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society. The study results suggest that cognitive aging could be delayed by up to 2.5 years in elderly who consume greater amounts of the flavonoid-rich berries.

5 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships awarded to UH students, alumna
From cognitive neuroscience to theoretical physics, this year's National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellows from the University of Houston have their sights set on careers in fields ranging from medicine to energy. Recognizing outstanding students pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines, the three-year fellowships cover tuition and include a $30,000 annual stipend.

AGU journal highlights for April 16, 2012
Featured in this release are research papers on the following topics:

Many athletes with asthma may be using the wrong treatment
Many athletes with asthma may not be using the best treatment for their condition and could be putting their long term health at risk, according to a roundup by journalist Sophie Arie published by the BMJ today.

Watching neurons learn
Learning novel associations between sensory stimuli and adequate motor actions is key to many aspects of our daily lives. A study by a new member of the Medical Faculty of the University of Geneva and a group of American researchers opened a novel window on the neuronal circuits involved. The researchers followed optically the same group of neurons during many days of learning. The results are published in this week's edition of Nature magazine.

Climate change, biofuels mandate would cause corn price spikes
A study from Purdue and Stanford university researchers predicts that future climate scenarios may cause significantly greater volatility in corn prices, which would be intensified by the federal biofuels mandate.

Nature's billion-year-old battery key to storing energy
New research at Concordia University is bringing us one step closer to clean energy. It is possible to extend the length of time a battery-like enzyme can store energy from seconds to hours, a study published in the Journal of The American Chemical Society shows.

Global health priorities should shift to preventing risky behaviors in adolescence: UW professor
As childhood and adolescent deaths from infectious diseases have declined worldwide, policymakers are shifting attention to preventing deaths from noncommunicable causes, such as drug and alcohol use, mental health problems, obesity, traffic crashes, violence and unsafe sex practices.

OceanScope: Private-science collaboration to provide critical ocean information
A partnership between the ocean-observing community and the global shipping industry will create a systematic long-term study of the ocean water column from surface to depth. The Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research/International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Oceans Working Group 133, established the rationale for the project using information from a long-term program between University of Miami and Royal Caribbean.

Why are action stars more likely to be Republican?
Fighting ability, largely determined by upper body strength, continues to rule the minds of modern men, according to a new study by Aaron Sell from Griffith University in Australia and colleagues.

Water treatments alone not enough to combat fluorosis in Ethiopia
Increased intake of dietary calcium may be key to addressing widespread dental health problems faced by millions of rural residents in Ethiopia's remote, poverty-stricken Main Rift Valley, according to a new Duke University-led study.

Tree nut consumption associated with lower body weight and lower prevalence of health risks
In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, researchers compared risk factors for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome of nut consumers versus those who did not consume nuts.

Wider cleft width appears associated with hypernasal speech, nasal air escape
Patients with wider cleft palates appear more likely to postoperatively develop velopharyngeal insufficiency, a condition characterized by hypernasal speech and nasal air escape when speaking, according to a study published Online First by Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, a JAMA Network publication.

Study confirms anatomic existence of the elusive G-spot
For centuries, women have been reporting engorgement of the upper, anterior part of the vagina during the stage of sexual excitement, despite the fact the structure of this phenomenon had not been anatomically determined. A new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine documents that this elusive structure does exist anatomically.

Colitis in test mice responds to treatment with human umbilical cord-derived mensenchymal cells
In a study to determine if human umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal cells would be therapeutic when transplanted into test mice modeled with acute colitis, researchers found that the cells homed in on the inflamed colon and effectively ameliorated colitis. The cells were responsive to the cues sent by the injured colon tissues and also well tolerated, even in the xeno-transplantation setting. It is unknown, however, if the same effect would be seen in chronic inflammation.

Even positive stereotypes can hinder performance, researchers report
Does hearing that you are a member of an elite group -- of chess players, say, or scholars -- enhance your performance on tasks related to your alleged area of expertise? Not necessarily, say researchers who tested how sweeping pronouncements about the skills or likely success of social groups can influence children's performance. The researchers found that broad generalizations about the likely success of a social group -- of boys or girls, for example -- actually undermined both boys' and girls' performance on a challenging activity.

Smart bridges
Iowa State University engineers are working with the Iowa Department of Transportation to develop and test a comprehensive monitoring system on a new bridge. The system will take continuous, real-time measurements of corrosion, strain, surface conditions, moisture within the bridge's steel arch and structure movements over time.

Coral reef winners and losers in a warmer world
In the world's first large-scale investigation of how climate affects the composition of coral reefs, an international team of marine scientists concludes that the picture is far more complicated than previously thought -- but that total reef losses due to climate change are unlikely.

Does technique that removes additional toxins benefit dialysis patients?
A technique that removes additional toxins during dialysis does not improve kidney failure patients' survival or heart health, but intense treatments may provide a benefit, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology.

Aesthetic appeal may have neurological link to contemplation and self-assessment, NYU researchers find
A network of brain regions which is activated during intense aesthetic experience overlaps with the brain network associated with inward contemplation and self-assessment, NYU researchers have found. Their study sheds new light on the nature of the aesthetic experience, which appears to integrate sensory and emotional reactions in a manner linked with their personal relevance.

Contact networks have no influence on cooperation among individuals
Researchers at Carlos III University of Madrid and the University of Zaragoza theoretically predict, in a scientific study, that contact networks have no influence on cooperation among individuals.

Molecular probes identify changes in fibronectin that may lead to disease
Researchers have identified molecular probes capable of selectively attaching to fibronectin fibers under different strain states, enabling the detection and examination of fibronectin strain events that have been linked to pathological conditions including cancer and fibrosis.

Radiology department develops smartcard to communicate radiation risks of adult radiologic exams
According to a study in the April issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology, the department of radiology at the University of Colorado in Denver has developed a convenient, pocket-sized reference card to communicate the effective doses and radiation risks of common adult radiologic exams to referring physicians and patients. The Adult Dose-Risk Smartcard is part of the department's ongoing efforts to ensure safe medical imaging.

Miniature Sandia sensors may advance climate studies
An air sampler the size of an ear plug is expected to cheaply and easily collect atmospheric samples to improve computer climate models. The inexpensive tool collects pristine vapor samples in the field. It can be used in medicine and to diagnose pollution sources.

Food insecurity linked to reduced odds of condom use for women in Brazil
In PLoS Medicine, Alexander Tsai of Harvard University, Cambridge, USA, and colleagues show that in sexually active women in Brazil severe food insecurity was positively associated with symptoms potentially indicative of sexually transmitted infection and with reduced odds of condom use.

UMass Amherst computer scientist leads the way to the next revolution in artificial intelligence
Hava Siegelmann, an expert in neural networks, has taken Alan Turing's work to its next logical step, translating her 1993 discovery into an adaptable computational system that learns and evolves way much more like our brains do.

DNA origami puts a smart lid on solid-state nanopore sensors
The latest advance in solid-state nanopore sensors -- devices that are made with standard tools of the semiconductor industry yet can offer single-molecule sensitivity for label-free protein screening -- expands their bag of tricks through bionanotechnology. Researchers at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen have enhanced the capabilities of solid-state nanopores by fitting them with cover plates made of DNA. These nanoscale cover plates, with central apertures tailored to various

Radiologists play key role in successful bariatric procedures
With the increase of obesity in the last 50 years, bariatric surgeries are becoming a common solution for tackling this epidemic. A new exhibit shows how radiologists play a key role in ensuring the success of these procedures.

Supplement use predicts folate status in Canadian women
Researchers have gained new insight into why 22 percent of Canadian women of childbearing age are still not achieving a folate concentration considered optimal for reducing the risk of having babies with neural tube defects, despite a virtual absence of folate deficiency in the general Canadian population.

Global effort launched to save turtles from extinction
The Wildlife Conservation Society announced today a new strategy that draws on all of the resources and expertise across the institution - from its Zoos and Aquarium, Global Health Program, and Global Conservation Programs - to take direct responsibility for the continued survival of some of the world's most endangered tortoises and freshwater turtles.

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