Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (April 2014)

Science news and science current events archive April, 2014.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from April 2014

Tiny power generator runs on spit
Saliva-powered micro-sized microbial fuel cells can produce minute amounts of energy sufficient to run on-chip applications, according to an international team of engineers.

Scale model WWII craft takes flight with fuel from the sea concept
Navy researchers demonstrate proof-of-concept in the first flight of an internal combustion powered model aircraft fueled by a novel gas-to-liquid process, using seawater as carbon feedstock.

Carnegie's Stephen Shectman elected to the National Academy of Sciences
Astronomer and instrumentation expert Stephen Shectman of the Carnegie Observatories has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Carnegie Mellon system lets iPad users explore data with their fingers
Spreadsheets may have been the original killer app for personal computers, but data tables don't play to the strengths of multi-touch devices such as tablets. So researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a visualization approach that allows people to explore complex data with their fingers. Called Kinetica, the proof-of-concept system for the Apple iPad converts tabular data, such as Excel spreadsheets, into colored spheres that respond to touch.

Feinstein Institute researcher publishes new perspective on sepsis
In a review published in the April issue of Immunity, Kevin J. Tracey, M.D., president of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, says it's time to take a fresh look at the medical community's approach to treating sepsis, which kills millions worldwide every year, including more than 200,000 Americans.

Solving the mystery of a superluminous supernova
Scientists have explained why an exceptionally bright supernova reported in 2013 was so luminous; it is because a lens in the sky amplified its light. The discovery of the lens settles an important controversy in the field of astronomy.

Amazon rainforest survey could improve carbon offset schemes
Carbon offsetting initiatives could be improved with new insights into the make-up of tropical forests, a study suggests.

Pocket-sized anthrax detector aids global agriculture
A credit-card-sized anthrax detection cartridge developed at Sandia National Laboratories and recently licensed to a small business makes testing safer, easier, faster and cheaper.

Star is discovered to be a close neighbor of the sun and the coldest of its kind
A 'brown dwarf' star that appears to be the coldest of its kind -- as frosty as Earth's North Pole -- has been discovered by a Penn State University astronomer using NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer and Spitzer Space Telescopes. Images from the space telescopes also pinpointed the object's distance at 7.2 light-years away, making it the fourth closest system to our sun.

Phase II trial of efatutazone shows challenge of matching treatment to population
Work at the University of Colorado Cancer Center led to phase II trial of efatutazone with erlotinib in patients with refractory non-small cell lung cancer. Results are reported today at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2014. While efatutazone did not improve the efficacy of erlotinib in this trial, researchers hope lessons from the trial will allow them to make better future use of the drug or other drugs in its class.

The human food connection: A new study reveals more about our relationship to food
Tucked away in Hartford, Conn., a Puerto Rican community is creating a tropical home away from home through cuisine that is so authentic it has caught the attention of scientists. David W. Taylor (University of Portland) and Gregory J. Anderson (University of Connecticut) took a close look at the fresh crops in the Puerto Rican markets of Hartford and uncovered evidence that gives new meaning to a phrase that food lovers have been using for years: home is in the kitchen.

Study: Tart cherry juice increases sleep time in adults with insomnia
Researchers from Louisiana State University found that drinking Montmorency tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks helped increase sleep time by nearly 90 minutes among older adults with insomnia.

Applying lessons from NASA helps manage threats and errors in pediatric cardiac surgery
Investigators propose that NASA's 'threat and error model' -- derived from analyzing >30,000 commercial flights and which explains >90 percent of crashes -- is directly applicable to pediatric cardiac surgery.

Researchers manipulate tiny objects with ultrasound
Utilizing the physical effects of ultrasonic waves provides effective strategies to handle micro/nano objects, which has huge potential applications in micro/nano fabrication, biomedical analyses and manipulations, nano measurement and assembling, high-end material production, etc.

Study examines patient care patterns in Medicare accountable care organizations
A third of Medicare beneficiaries assigned to accountable care organizations (ACOs) in 2010 or 2011 were not assigned to the same ACO in both years and much of the specialty care received was provided outside the patients' assigned ACO, suggesting challenges to achieving organizational accountability in Medicare.

IOF President's Award presented to notable osteoporosis advocates from 6 regions
At a ceremony held during the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases in Seville, Spain, the International Osteoporosis Foundation awarded the IOF President's Award in recognition of outstanding contributions and dedication to the work of IOF and to osteoporosis awareness and education worldwide.

Turning harmful gas into valuable fuels, chemicals
A University of California, Riverside researcher is leading a team that won a nearly $500,000 grant to study a process that transforms harmful greenhouse gas emissions into valuable fuels and chemicals by using a unique catalyst.

Recurrent head and neck tumors have gene mutations that could be vulnerable to cancer drug
An examination of the genetic landscape of head and neck cancers indicates that while metastatic and primary tumor cells share similar mutations, recurrent disease is associated with gene alterations that could be exquisitely sensitive to an existing cancer drug. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and Yale University School of Medicine will share their findings during a mini-symposium Sunday at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2014.

Albertans support perinatal mental health screening
A UAlberta study shows that 63 percent of Albertans favor screening during pregnancy; support jumps to 72.7 percent postpartum.

ASA selects Premier Inc. to develop Perioperative Surgical Home collaborative
The American Society of Anesthesiologists today announced it has chosen Premier Inc., a leading health care improvement company, to develop a first-of-its-kind learning collaborative for the ASA's Perioperative Surgical Home model of care.

SDSC resources, expertise used in genomic analysis of 115 year-old woman
A team of researchers investigating the genome of a healthy supercentenarian since 2011 has found many somatic mutations -- permanent changes in cells other than reproductive ones -- that arose during the woman's lifetime. Led by Erik Sistermans and Henne Holstege from the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, the team recently published its findings in the journal Genome Research as reported by GenomeWeb.

Kinesin-5 structure opens cancer drug targets
The structure of a key part of the machinery that allows cells to divide has been identified by researchers at UC Davis -- opening new possibilities for throwing a wrench in the machine and blocking runaway cell division in cancer.

AGU: Odds of storm waters overflowing Manhattan seawall up 20-fold, new study shows
Maximum water levels in New York harbor during major storms have risen by nearly two and a half feet since the mid-1800s, making the chances of water overtopping the Manhattan seawall now at least 20 times greater than they were 170 years ago, according to a new study.

The Lancet: Functional brain imaging reliably predicts which vegetative patients have potential to recover consciousness
A functional brain imaging technique known as positron emission tomography is a promising tool for determining which severely brain damaged individuals in vegetative states have the potential to recover consciousness, according to new research published in The Lancet.

Knowledge, use of IUDs increases when women are offered counseling and 'same-day' service
Health care clinics should routinely offer same-day placement of intrauterine devices (IUDs) to women seeking emergency contraception, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The study findings, published online in the journal Contraception, demonstrate that providing patient education along with same-day placement service increases both knowledge and use of IUDs three months and a year after women seek emergency contraception.

Multitarget TB drug could treat other diseases, evade resistance
A drug under clinical trials to treat tuberculosis could be the basis for a class of broad-spectrum drugs that act against various bacteria, fungal infections and parasites, yet evade resistance, according to a study by University of Illinois chemists and collaborators. The team determined the different ways the drug SQ109 attacks the tuberculosis bacterium, how the drug can be tweaked to target other pathogens from yeast to malaria -- and how targeting multiple pathways reduces the probability of pathogens becoming resistant.

Fires in the Yucatan Peninsula in April 2014
April is in the middle of the dry season, which runs from January through May in this region, and naturally coincides with fire season.

Astronomers discover Earth-sized planet in habitable zone
Notre Dame astrophysicist Justin R. Crepp and researchers from NASA working with the Kepler space mission have detected an Earth-like planet orbiting the habitable zone of a cool star. The planet which was found using the Kepler Space Telescope has been identified as Kepler-186f and is 1.11 times the radius of the Earth. Their research titled, 'An Earth-sized Planet in the Habitable Zone of a Cool Star' will be published in the journal Science today.

Long-term predictions for Miami sea level rise could be available relatively soon
Miami could know as early as 2020 how high sea levels will rise into the next century, according to a team of researchers including Florida International University scientist Rene Price.

UCI study finds modified stem cells offer potential pathway to treat Alzheimer's disease
UC Irvine neurobiologists have found that genetically modified neural stem cells show positive results when transplanted into the brains of mice with the symptoms and pathology of Alzheimer's disease. The pre-clinical trial is published in the journal Stem Cells Research and Therapy, and the approach has been shown to work in two different mouse models.

New towns going up in developing nations pose major risk to the poor
Satellite city projects across the developing world are putting an increasing number of poor people at risk to natural hazards and climate change, according to a new study from the University of Colorado Denver.

Study of gut microbes, antibiotics: Clues to improving immunity in premature infants
Mothers give a newborn baby a gift of germs -- germs that help to kick-start the infant's immune system. But antibiotics, used to fight bacterial infection, may paradoxically interrupt a newborn's own immune responses, leaving already-vulnerable premature babies more susceptible to dangerous pathogens

Fruitfly study: Epilepsy drug target implications for sleep disruption in brain disorders
A study using the mutant fruitfly sleepless confirmed that the enzyme GABA transaminase, a target of some epilepsy drugs, contributes to sleep loss. The findings shed light on mechanisms that may be shared between sleep disruption and some neurological disorders.

Key chocolate ingredients could help prevent obesity, diabetes
Improved thinking. Decreased appetite. Lowered blood pressure. The potential health benefits of dark chocolate keep piling up, and scientists are now homing in on what ingredients in chocolate might help prevent obesity, as well as type 2 diabetes. They found that one particular type of antioxidant in cocoa prevented laboratory mice from gaining excess weight and lowered their blood sugar levels. The report appears in ACS' Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry.

FDA approves first targeted drug for advanced stomach cancer
Based on results of a clinical trial led by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute scientists, the US Food and Drug Administration approved first targeted drug as treatment for advanced stomach cancer.

Tamiflu & Relenza: How effective are they?
The BMJ and Cochrane call on government and health policy decision makers to review guidance on use of Tamiflu in light of the most recent evidence.

Man landing on Madeira could be 4 centuries prior to its colonization by the Portuguese
Four centuries before its colonization by the Portuguese, man may have landed on Madeira Island. This can be deduced from a study led by the Spanish National Research Council, based on the dating of some ancient mice bones found in a fossiliferous site in Ponta de São Lourenço.

Researchers show fruit flies have latent bioluminescence
A synthetic luciferin developed by scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School shows that fruit flies are secretly harboring the biochemistry needed to glow in the dark -- otherwise known as bioluminescence. This discovery expands the scope of bioluminescence imaging for research, and adds new tools for the noninvasive studying of ongoing biological processes.

A screening process for early identification of infants at risk of autism
The aim of this study was to develop a screening tool to identify infants prior to 12 months at risk for autism spectrum disorder and developmental learning delay and provide immediate determination of risk for autism spectrum disorder.

German Research Foundation approves new priority program in the life sciences
The German Research Foundation has agreed to fund a new priority program 'Chemical Biology of Native Nucleic Acid Modifications,' which is coordinated by Mainz University.

More effective kidney stone treatment, from the macroscopic to the nanoscale
Researchers in France have hit on a novel method to help kidney stone sufferers ensure they receive the correct and most effective treatment possible.

Pioneering findings on the dual role of carbon dioxide in photosynthesis
Scientists at Umea University in Sweden have found that carbon dioxide, in its ionic form bicarbonate, has a regulating function in the splitting of water in photosynthesis. This means that carbon dioxide has an additional role to being reduced to sugar. The pioneering work is published in the latest issue of the scientific journal PNAS.

World's largest global bone, muscle and joint congress opens in Seville, Spain
Investigators and clinicians from more than 60 countries will gather today in Seville, Spain for the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases. The joint congress of the International Osteoporosis Foundation and the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis is regarded as the premier annual forum for the presentation of bone, joint and muscle related clinical research.

Refrigerant in cars: Refreshingly cool, potentially toxic
The refrigerant R1234yf is being considered for use in air conditioning systems in cars. Chemists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet in Munich now show that, in the event of a fire, it releases the highly poisonous carbonyl fluoride, and urge that its safety be reassessed.

BUSM researchers find anti-seizure drug may reduce alcohol consumption
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine have discovered that the anti-seizure drug ezogabine, reduced alcohol consumption in an experimental model. The findings, reported in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, may lead to more effective treatments for alcoholism.

Scripps Florida scientists find connection between gene mutation, key symptoms of autism
Scientists have known that abnormal brain growth is associated with autism spectrum disorder. However, the relationship between the two has not been well understood.

Well-known cancer gene NRAS produces 5 variants, study finds
A new study shows that the NRAS gene, known to play a fundamental role in cancer development, produces five gene variants, or isoforms, rather than just one form, as thought. The study identified four previously unknown variants that the NRAS gene produces. The finding might help improve drugs for cancers in which NRAS plays a crucial role. It also suggests that NRAS might affect additional target molecules in cells.

High doses of antidepressants appear to increase risk of self-harm in children young adult
Children and young adults who start antidepressant therapy at high doses, rather than the 'modal' -- average or typical -- prescribed doses, appear to be at greater risk for suicidal behavior during the first 90 days of treatment.

Chrono, the last piece of the circadian clock puzzle?
In an article published today in PLOS Biology, researchers from the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan report the identification of Chrono, a gene involved in the regulation of the body clock in mammals and that might be a key component of the body?s response to stress.

Airport security officers at TSA gaining insight from Sandia human behavior studies
A recent Sandia National Laboratories study offers insight into how a federal transportation security officer's thought process can influence decisions made during airport baggage screening, findings that are helping the Transportation Security Administration improve the performance of its security officers.

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