Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (August 2001)

Science news and science current events archive August, 2001.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from August 2001

Internet taxes could weave a tangled web for e-business
The taxing of Internet purchases and services could create confusion in an e-business environment already in upheaval.

Adolescents who engage in delinquent behaviors more likely to contemplate suicide, according to new study
About 21 percent of adolescents surveyed in middle school in Oakland, California reported being depressed enough to consider suicide. The majority of these youths also used drugs and engaged in illegal activities. Over half were female, according to this study on how demographics and relationships affect the likelihood of delinquency, depression and suicide contemplation.

Two Rensselaer scholars receive Fulbright Student Awards
Two Rensselaer graduate students, Dean Nieusma and Elizabeth Press, have been awarded prestigious Fulbright student grants to do research and to study abroad. They are the first Rensselaer students to receive the awards, which were recently announced by the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Mayo Clinic study: Echocardiogram spots risk of valve narrowing, stroke
Standard echocardiograms which image the heart using ultrasound waves -- much like the ultrasound images used during pregnancy to monitor fetal development -- can be used as a screening tool to spot aortic valve abnormalities and to identify people at high risk for stroke and heart valve disease, according to a Mayo Clinic study published in September's Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Many law enforcement officers leave loaded guns unlocked
While publicly promoting firearm safety, some law enforcement officers do not store their guns safely at home. A new study of officers at one Southern law enforcement agency found 44 percent store their weapons both unlocked and loaded.

Do-it-yourself tooth bleaching kits may cause problems without supervision
People who want to brighten their smiles are opting for over-the-counter bleaching kits instead of visiting their dentist's office. While generally safe, these products have the potential to cause an infection or nerve damage, say UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas oral surgeons.

Dust from Africa leads to large toxic algae blooms in Gulf of Mexico, study finds
Saharan dust clouds travel thousands of miles and fertilize the water off the West Florida coast with iron, which kicks off blooms of toxic algae, according to a new study.

September media highlights - Geology and GSA Today
September GEOLOGY's newsworthy items include a new discovery of an extraterrestrial impact that caused End-Permian mass extinction; a biomineralization sunscreen for Archean life; a unique climate record from upstate New York--1000 yr of winter jet stream variability, its associated influence on northeastern US storms, and the jet stream position's

Scientific symposium focuses on nutritional beverages, August 26-28
Scientists report increasing insight into the potential health benefits of beverages ranging from tropical fruit juices to soy-based drinks. More than refreshing, such nutritional beverages often deliver antioxidants and other compounds that fight cancer, lower cholesterol and help keep heart disease at bay, according to research presented in Chicago at the 222nd national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, during a special three-day symposium, August 26-28.

New source of natural fertilizer discovered in oceans
New findings suggest that the deep ocean is teeming with organisms that produce essential natural fertilizers. A National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research team led by Jonathan Zehr, a marine scientist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has discovered a previously unknown type of photosynthetic bacteria that fixes nitrogen, converting nitrogen from the atmosphere into a form other organisms can use. The researchers reported their findings in the August 9 issue of the journal Nature.

Scientists weigh costs of mycotoxin-contaminated crops
Certain crops are susceptible to molds and fungi that produce what scientists call mycotoxins. Considered carcinogenic, these particular food invaders are closely watched by the U.S., but standards around the world vary and in many countries people routinely consume mycotoxins in their daily diets. Now scientists want to know the worldwide impact of mycotoxins. On August 28, the world's largest group of plant health scientists will hold a symposium to discuss these issues in depth.

Novel surface analyzer effective in detecting chemical warfare agents
Researchers at the Department of Energy's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory can detect part-per-million levels of chemical warfare agents such as the blister agent HD or the nerve agent VX using a novel ion-trap secondary ion mass spectrometer (IT-SIMS). INEEL researchers are developing surface analysis instrumentation specifically for environmental samples such as soil or plant surfaces. Chemical warfare agent detection is just one possible application of IT-SIMS. Results are published in the International Journal of Mass Spectrometry, volume 208.

New NASA satellite sensor and field experiment shows aerosols cool the surface but warm the atmosphere
New research based upon NASA satellite data and a multi-national field experiment shows that black carbon aerosol pollution produced by humans can impact global climate as well as seasonal cycles of rainfall. Because aerosols that contain black carbon both absorb and reflect incoming sunlight, these particles can exert a regional cooling influence on Earth's surface that is about 3 times greater than the warming effect of greenhouse gases.

Folic acid, Vitamin B12 show potential as heart disease treatments
Red wine and garlic aren't the only dietary supplements that keep our hearts healthy. Folic acid and vitamin B12 also appear to offer cost-effective treatments for heart disease and the reduction of associated deaths among the adult U.S. population, according to projections in a new University of California, San Francisco study published in the August 22 edition of the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA).

GLUT4 in membrane ruffles
In normal myocytes, insulin treatment activates glucose uptake to the muscle by promoting the cell surface delivery of cytoplasmic storage vesicles that contain the glucose transporter GLUT4. Like other examples of regulated membrane dynamics, this process involves the local rearrangement of the cortical actin cytoskeleton. Tong et al. have applied sophisticated microscopic imaging to follow the intracellular events that mediate this physiologically important response.

New protein may play role in preventing malignant change in cells
A protein discovered by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine plays a key role in regulating the cell's cycle and preventing it from replicating erratically, which increases its chance of becoming malignant.

Congratulations, it's a soy!: Penn researchers take a long-term look at the safety of soy-based infant formula
Can phytoestrogens in soy infant formula cause physical and sexual developmental problems in children later in life? In a follow-up to a study begun 30 years ago, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology have found that soy formula does not appear to lead to any more health or reproductive problems than cow milk formula.

Mercury at bottom of central park lake linked to coal burning in NYC
- While the debate rages over the future of the nation's energy resources, including the potential increase in the number of coal-burning power plants, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have linked coal plant emissions to toxic levels of mercury.

Alzheimer's patients taking drug maintain daily activities longer
The Alzheimer's drug donepezil can help patients maintain their functioning in everyday activities such as shopping and fixing meals, according to a study published in the August 14 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

European authorities overlook cancer screening guidelines
European recommendations for cancer screening have yet to be officially validated, despite a consensus agreement by experts from all EU member states back in November 1999, according to a letter in this week's BMJ.

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine establishes residency training program in Japan
The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC Health System have signed an agreement to assist Teine Keijinkai Hospital in Sapporo, Japan, to establish and operate a U.S.-style residency training program in internal medicine.

Air pollutants on the job may affect heart function
Exposure to occupational and environmental air pollutants can alter heart rates in young, seemingly healthy hearts, researchers report in today's Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. These altered heart rates may play a role in the development of cardiovascular disease.

Cognitive processing speed is best way to assess risk factors in older drivers and can improve ability, says new study
Current measures of driving ability and risk factors, like visual acuity tests that are used for most driving tests are not always accurate in determining who is at risk for accidents. Cognitive researchers can now recommend a tool that can keep older drivers on the road longer and safer by measuring and even improving their visual information processing, an important measure of driving ability.

Researchers at UT Southwestern discover link between gene in rare disorder and growth factor
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas in collaboration with scientists at the University of Helsinki, Finland, have discovered a previously unknown connection between Lkb1, a tumor-suppressor gene associated with a rare genetic disorder called Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a key regulator of blood vessels.

First light: astronomers use distant quasar to probe cosmic 'dark age,' universe origins
Using light from the most distant object known, astronomers have found traces of the first generation of atoms in the universe, 14 billion light years from Earth. The observations are the first of the cosmic

Fuel cell materials studied for many kinds of environments
Hydrogen is the key ingredient in fuels for fuel cells, but today's fuels -- diesel or regular gasoline, natural gas, or methanol -- can be used as the source of hydrogen protons to pass through a membrane to the oxygen side of the fuel cell, where electrochemical energy, water and heat are produced.

Fatal thrombotic disease in designer mice lacking vascular thrombomodulin
The protein C pathway, which is initiated by the interaction of thrombin with the vascular surface protein thrombomodulin (TM), provides an important brake on blood clotting. Although defects in protein C, protein S, and clotting factor V, other players in this pathway, are known causes of thrombosis, the physiological role of TM in adult hemostasis has proved difficult to pin down

Adversaries would find other attack methods, game theory shows
As Congress ponders a $3 billion increase in funding for a national missile defense system, University of Illinois professor Julian Palmore is looking at the program's prospects for success from a mathematician's perspective.

Celebrex under study for lung cancer prevention
UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center is seeking volunteers for two new research studies to determine if Celebrex, a common anti-inflammatory drug, can help prevent lung cancer. For the first time, the studies will investigate whether the drug can prevent lung cancer in people at high risk of developing the disease.

Genes passed from crops to weeds persist for generations
Genetic traits passed from crops to their weedy relatives can persist for at least six generations, and probably much longer. This means genetic traits developed in crops - such as resistance to insect pests - can become a permanent part of the weed population, in turn, posing possible risks to crops. These results suggest that biotech companies should steer clear of developing transgenic radish varieties with beneficial traits that could be passed on to weeds.

Weird chemistry: Researchers study unique radiation-driven reactions in extreme cold and high vacuum of Jupiter's moons
By his own admission, Thomas Orlando deals with

Uninsured, medicaid patients more likely to die from heart attack
A new study finds that patients with public health insurance are more likely to die from a heart attack than patients with private insurance, pointing to a seeming inequity in the delivery of costly life-saving procedures.

Trouble in paradise? 'Natural' pest control requires careful planning, Science authors conclude
Parasitic wasps and flies have been introduced to Hawaii at least 122 times over the last 100 years as

Researchers generate new approach to working with laser light
A team of researchers in Boulder, Colo., has generated a new and flexible approach to working with laser light in the world of ultrafast science by successfully combining extremely short pulses of light generated by two independent lasers into a single pulse of light. The researchers were able to synchronize two independent lasers that generate light pulses with durations as short as 100 trillionth of a second.

First HIV rat seen as best model for human studies
Scientists at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (UMBI) have engineered laboratory rats for the first time to contain the genome of the AIDS virus HIV-1..-- With more people living with AIDS than ever before, a new rat model will benefit researchers studying the pathogenesis and the development of new drugs to treating AIDS and related diseases.

U-M scientists reveal prostate cancer's molecular fingerprint. Study links proteins to patient prognosis.
Like most killers, prostate cancer leaves fingerprints. Every malignant cell has a unique pattern of active genes and proteins that spells the difference between benign, localized or metastatic tumors. Until now, physicians have been unable to decode these fingerprints. But a new University of Michigan study, published in the Aug. 23 issue of Nature, offers scientists their first look at the genetic and molecular profile of prostate cancer.

Biomolecule studied for medical uses
Duke University Chemistry Department researchers are creating unique polymers out of naturally occurring building blocks that don't provoke immune reactions and in some cases also biodegrade in the body. The tree-like, globular-shaped substances are being evaluated for a variety of medical uses.

Scientists look for genetic clues on why drugs' effects vary
Researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have united in a multimillion-dollar mission to uncover how genes influence the effectiveness of drugs from person to person

Depression more common during pregnancy than after childbirth
Depression during pregnancy is more common than postnatal depression, finds a study in this week's BMJ. As mood during pregnancy may affect the unborn child, more efforts need to be directed towards recognising and treating antenatal depression, report the authors.

Symposium celebrates the accomplishments of chemistry's latest Nobel laureates
A special symposium to honor the accomplishments of the year 2000's Nobel laureates in chemistry will take place during the American Chemical Society's 222nd national meeting in Chicago, August 26-30. The symposium will celebrate their work in polymer chemistry and the importance of interdisciplinary research in scientific breakthroughs.

Synthetic antifreeze could prevent ice growth
A way to make large amounts of artificial antifreeze safe enough to use in living organisms has been developed by researchers looking at the

Widespread 'superbug' is expert at acquiring drug-resistance
One of the most widely disseminated strains of an antibiotic-resistant bacterium responsible for hundreds of infections in European hospitals can be traced back to the 1950s, according to researchers at The Rockefeller University. Using the molecular tool called DNA fingerprinting, they have shown that this persistent lineage of Staphylococcus aureus is an expert at acquiring resistance to antibiotics.

Singlehanded doctors are not underperforming
Singlehanded general practitioners in the United Kingdom are not underperforming clinically, despite government concerns about professional isolation and quality standards, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

UCLA/UCSF researchers predict future of drug-resistant HIV epidemic
The number of drug-resistant HIV cases has already reached epidemic proportions in San Francisco, but sexual transmission of drug-resistant strains is not to blame, reports a new UCLA/UCSF study in the September issue of Nature Medicine.

AAAS urges immediate public release of sources of embryonic stem cell lines
Washington D.C. - The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has urged the Bush Administration to publicly disclose the sources of the existing embryonic stem cell lines that constitute the centerpiece of the President's stem cell policy, noting that only by such disclosure can scientists assess the potential value of the cells for research and potential medical advances.

Harbor Branch scientists to study predation habits of jellyfish-like animals in Gulf Of Maine
The R/V Seward Johnson departs for the Gulf of Maine, where HARBOR BRANCH Senior Scientist Dr. Marsh Youngbluth and a team of collaborators will study the predation habits of colonial, jellyfish-like animals that can have an impact on commercial fish operations.

Celebrity cloning
Should stars like Britney Spears be seriously worrying about leaving a few cells behind on a glass in case besotted fans want to use it to make clones of them? Those celebrities concerned about unwanted cloning can turn to a Californian company who is offering copyright protection on a person's unique DNA.

Can email help doctors use their time more productively?
In almost every era doctors have perceived themselves as

Like a balloon: Study supports buoyancy explanation for how volcanic rock rises through the Earth's mantle
A new study of the Earth's mantle beneath the ocean near Iceland provides the most convincing evidence yet that simple buoyancy of hot, partially molten rocks can play an important role in causing them to rise and erupt through the surface at mid-ocean ridges.

In the line of fire
Nuclear missiles targeted at US cities and intercepted by Bush's proposed missile defence shield could still explode over Europe, Canada or middle America instead. American arms experts say that the defence system can destroy the rocket booster minutes after launch - but still leaves the warhead zinging across the sky. 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