Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (August 2002)

Science news and science current events archive August, 2002.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from August 2002

Newer design of close-up computer monitors increases ease of use
Eyeglasses with built-in computer monitors could soon be a reasonable alternative to reading text from a traditional computer screen, according to new research from Ohio State University. Participants in a recent study rated the comfort and performance of these so-called near-eye displays as comparable to that of traditional computer monitors. Near-eye displays are like eyeglasses with a monitor built into the lenses.

Important advances in the development of drug delivery vehicles
McGill chemistry professor Adi Eisenberg is publishing results of work on the science which could lead to the improvement of drug delivery to the body. The August 9 issue of Science includes an article entitled

Lazy snakes! Pythons can be couch potatoes, too
A team of California researchers have studied factors associated with pythons digestion, assimilation and execretion of certain foods. Study shows that their energy stores are based more on what they eat than how much they eat.

Lipid abnormalities linked to Lou Gehrig's disease
Abnormal accumulation of two common lipids in motor nerve cells could play a critical role in the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to investigators at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) in Baltimore. The finding could help scientists develop drugs and other treatments that might one day slow or arrest the disease's progression.

Satellites to profile weather, improve forecasts through GPS
A revolutionary, globe-spanning satellite network called COSMIC will furnish round-the-clock weather data, monitor climate change, and improve space weather forecasts by intercepting signals from the Global Positioning System (GPS). Nearly 100 scientists from over a dozen countries are meeting in Boulder on August 21-23 to help plan the use of data from this mission. Operations will begin in 2005.

Mayo Clinic Proceedings features primers on medical genomics
The August issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings features the first two parts of a series of primers on medical genomics. The primers will provide valuable background to help physicians and scientists understand the human genome and its implications for the practice of medicine.

Industrial fishing threatens sharks, dolphins, billfish
Industrial fishing poses the biggest threat to life and fin for sharks, dolphins and billfish that inhabit the tropical and northern Pacific Ocean, says a new study forecasting the effects of commercial fishing on ocean ecosystems.

Scientists discover chemical switch that determines muscle fiber type
A multi-institutional team of scientists led by researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have found a molecular switch in mice that can convert easily-fatigued

University of Florida engineers probe 'shape memory' alloy for better prostheses
UF researchers have built a nitinol device that can move the equivalent of more than 100 pounds. While the apparatus is merely a weight-lifting machine now, the hope is the research will one day lead to a nitinol

Sequence provides insights into a pathogen's virulence mechanism allowing for vaccine development
Scientists have analyzed the complete genome sequence of an emerging human pathogen, Streptococcus agalactiae (also known as group B streptococcus or

What determines consultation length?
Patients are satisfied with the care they receive from general practice, but often say that consultations are too short. A study in this week's BMJ finds that characteristics of patients have as much effect on consultation length as the characteristics of the doctor and the doctor's country.

Northwestern is testing experimental therapies for Crohn's disease
Researchers at the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Northwestern University are conducting clinical trials of several innovative approaches to the treatment of Crohn's disease, including experimental drugs and a new swallowable video camera that produces high-quality images of the small intestine. Research related to these Crohn's disease studies appears in the Aug. 8 issue of The New England Journal of Medine.

Combined kidney and bone marrow transplantation allows patients to discontinue anti-rejection drugs
An experimental treatment protocol involving combined kidney and bone marrow transplantation has enabled several patients to accept their transplanted kidney without immunosuppressive drugs, reports a researcher from Massachusetts General Hospital.

Cloning pigs and drug discovery among 'hot' topics
New developments in the areas of cloning and animal-to-human transplantation, and in drug discovery and transplant tolerance - the acceptance of the graft without the need for drugs - will have the most impact on transplant availability and outcomes, said researchers today who spoke at the International Congress of The Transplantation Society in a session aptly called

UMass geologist leads team probing Bering Land Bridge
A University of Massachusetts Amherst geoscientist is part of a team of researchers sailing the Bering and Chukchi seas this summer, searching for clues about the sea floor history and the land bridge that once existed between what is now Alaska and Russia. The team will also explore how the disappearance of the land bridge may have affected that region's climate.

DARPA to support development of human brain-machine interfaces
Devices including

Prospects for Electronic Democracy
More than two dozen scholars and e-democracy practitioners from four countries will assemble at Carnegie Mellon University on September 20-21, 2002, to assess how the growth of electronic networks is likely to shape the future of democracy.

Public health report stresses worker protection as key component of homeland security
The report

Teens today are children of renaissance, scholar believes
A University of Toronto professor has his own theory about teenagers, and he's going way back in time to prove it.

Real time health records reduce clinical errors, enhance time with patients
Queen's researchers have developed a new, seamless system of electronically recording and tracking a patient's health record that will reduce the chance of clinical errors, and make better use of limited hosptial staff. For the first time in North America, all components of the wireless, mobile technology have been brought together into one, integrated system.

New Geocentrifuge Research Laboratory coming online
The Department of Energy's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory in collaboration with Bechtel National are launching a new user facility dedicated to environmental and geo-engineering research. The heart of the facility is a 2-meter geocentrifuge that subjects test specimens to a high-gravity field, causing gravity-drive processes such as fluid flow to occur much faster than normal. Using this technique researchers can study in a few days or weeks the effects of tens of years of gravity-induced fluid movement.

New England's missing male workers and the region's limited labor force growth
New research from Northeastern reveals that women made up the bulk of labor force growth during the 1990s in the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions

New drugs, cancer and diabetes treatments top ACS Boston meeting in August
Developments in new treatments for cancer, diabetes and joint replacements are among the research to be presented at the 224th national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston August 18-22. Several sessions will also highlight the role of the chemist and the biochemist in homeland security and countering terrorism.

Investigators use guilt-by-association strategy to track potential cancer causing genes
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center scientists identified 21 potential cancer genes, and as many as 14 of these genes may have not been previously implicated in the development of cancer. The achievement-made possible by the recent completion of the mouse and human genomes-represents a key step toward the quest by cancer biologists to characterize the cellular pathways that distinguish one type of cancer from another.

Musical interlude helps sleep quality, research shows
Sleep scientists at the University of Toronto are pursuing research that's music to insomniacs' ears.

Islet cell transplantation for diabetes turns corner
More diabetic patients are coming off insulin following pancreatic islet cell transplantation than ever before, according to multiple studies presented today at the International Congress of The Transplantation Society. New international data shows 80 percent of patients are insulin free one year after receiving infusions of the insulin-producing cells, a success rate on a par with whole pancreas transplantation. One-year, insulin-free status also was achieved in a child who received pig cells.

Gaskell awarded the 2001 SURA Thesis Prize
The 2001 Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA) Thesis Prize was awarded to David Gaskell, author of

FDA clears for market new diagnostic test for lupus
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared for market a new screening test for lupus, developed by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, which is considered the first significant diagnostic breakthrough for systemic lupus erythematosis, or SLE, in more than four decades.

Infection with toxoplasmososis increases the risk of being involved in a road traffic accident
A new study published in BMC Infectious Diseases reveals that people with latent toxoplasmosis (a harmless form of the disease) are more likely to be involved in a road traffic accident. These findings may well be due to the presence of cysts formed in nerves and muscle tissue, which may reduce the ability of infected individuals to concentrate.

USDA symposium on natural resource management to offset greenhouse gas emissions
Hosted by the SRS Southern Global Change Program (SGCP), the symposium will present the latest research on management options for increasing carbon storage in terrestrial ecosystems.

Media advisory 1 - 2002 Fall Meeting
The 2002 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union takes place Friday morning through Tuesday afternoon, December 6 to 10, in San Francisco, California. We expect over 9,000 scientists to participate. Media representatives and PIOs are encouraged to register in advance, using the form at the end of this message. Hotel rooms at advantageous rates and discounted air fares are available.

All Hajj pilgrims should get meningitis jab
Seventeen per cent of those returning from the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina (Hajj) are carrying meningococcal bacteria, finds a study in this week's BMJ. As such, vaccination should become mandatory for all Hajj pilgrims, and should also be considered for their families, say the researchers.

Moulds increase severity of asthma
Severe asthma in adults may be associated with sensitivity to airborne moulds rather than pollens, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

Men are faster than women. but does that mean bets should always be placed on colts?
Men are readily acknowledged as faster runners than women. Can the same assumption be made about gender in horses and dogs? A study conduct at Northern Arizona University sought to answer this question.

Out of the ashes come invasive species
With fires racing across the West and Southwest of the United States, heat and flame scorch the landscape causing thousands of acres to undergo a dramatic change. Yet, the troubles created may not end with the extinguishing of the flames. According to the organizers of the symposium, studies

Research shows that male smokers who want a long life should get married
New research by economists at the University of Warwick reveals that men who smoke but who want a long life should marry without delay as marriage reduces the risk of death by even more than the act of smoking increases the risk of dying.

Shark fin soup: Scientists now can tell which kind of shark
Scientists have developed a new test to determine which species of sharks are being used for shark fin soup, a popular Asian delicacy that may be responsible for rapid depletion of many shark species. The researchers' study is published in the journal issue of the journal Conservation Biology, and sheds new light on the impact the global fin trade is having on shark populations.

Gene may protect abused kids against behavior problems
New research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison identifies a genetic variation that might protect abused children from developing antisocial behavior.

Whole grains reduce long-term risk of type 2 diabetes in men
Fung et al. found that middle-aged men who ate several servings of whole grains per day over a period of years had a substantially reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Computational geneticists revisit a mystery in evolution
Why, biologists first asked 60 years ago, do members of the same species have such similar traits, or phenotypes, despite the fact that they have such diverse genes, or genotypes? They couldn't fully explore that question until now - when, aided by computers, they can sift through mountains of experimental data. In the June 24 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Stanford researchers provide a surprisingly simple answer.

A most unusual superconductor and how it works
Magnesium diboride (MgB2) becomes superconducting at 39 degrees Kelvin, one of the highest known transition temperatures (Tc) of any superconductor. What's more, its puzzling characteristics include more than one superconducting energy gap, a state of affairs anticipated in theory but never before seen experimentally. Now theorists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley have calculated the properties of this unique superconductor from first principles, revealing the secrets of its anomalous behavior.

Peptide suppresses multiple sclerosis-like disease
A peptide that blocks interactions between cells critical to the immune response can inhibit and suppress a disease used for the study of multiple sclerosis in humans. The finding reported in mice suggests a possible new approach for treating this chronic human disease.

Karnal bunt struggles to spread without large numbers
Airborne spores from Karnal bunt fungus, which damages wheat crops, are limited in how well they can start new infections over long distances, according to the findings from a Kansas State University project.

UCSD study finds women's attitudes can influence drop-out rates among female engineering students
Female engineering students who believe competence in engineering and math is something a person is born with tend to drop out of classes when faced with difficulty, according to a study conducted at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

Detectors soon will be no match for NIST-tuned radar guns
Across-the-road

Twenty-years of long-term ecological research: National Science Foundation releases review report
The National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program must forge ahead to a bold decade of synthesis science that will lead to a better understanding of complex environmental problems, and result in knowledge that serves science and society, according to the authors of the just released NSF report,

Three dimensional structure of a protein transport machine
Protein traffic is an essential process in all cells. Certain proteins are secreted or targeted to a specific compartment by membrane translocation or insertion. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics have determined the structure of a ubiquitous protein-transport machine. The structure provides us with new ideas about this fundamental biological process.

Complex physical learning may compensate for prenatal alcohol exposure, study shows
Complex physical learning may help children overcome some mental disabilities that result from prenatal alcohol consumption by their mothers, say researchers whose experiments led to increased wiring in the brains of young rats.

Dietary change may prevent the most serious form of prostate cancer
While high intake of dietary fat and calcium is associated with increased risk of clinically significant, advanced prostate cancer, it has no apparent impact on risk of early-stage disease, according to new findings from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Wash.

Dartmouth researchers identify multi-tasking circadian protein
Dartmouth Medical School geneticists have found a molecular shortcut from light reception to gene activation in their work to understand biological clocks. Their research has revealed that the protein called White Collar-1 does double duty: it perceives light and then, in response to light, directly turns on a key gene called frequency, which is a central component of the clock.

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