Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (August 2013)

Science news and science current events archive August, 2013.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from August 2013

New insight on vulnerability of public-supply wells to contamination
Key factors have been identified that help determine the vulnerability of public-supply wells to contamination. A new USGS report describes these factors, providing insight into which contaminants in an aquifer might reach a well and when, how and at what concentration they might arrive. About one-third of the US population gets their drinking water from public-supply wells.

Deep Earth heat surprise
Researchers have for the first time experimentally mimicked the pressure conditions of Earths' deep mantle to measure thermal conductivity using a new measurement technique on the mantle material magnesium oxide. They found that heat transfer is lower than other predictions, with total heat flow across the Earth of about 10.4 terawatts, about 60 percent of the power used today by civilization. They also found that conductivity has less dependence on pressure conditions than predicted.

2 wildfires in Idaho
NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of Idaho's two large fires on Aug. 10, 2013.

Researcher controls colleague's motions in first human brain-to-brain interface
University of Washington researchers have performed what they believe is the first noninvasive human-to-human brain interface, with one researcher able to send a brain signal via the Internet to control the hand motions of a fellow researcher.

New PRA gene identified in Phalenes and Papillons
Finnish researchers have identified a genetic mutation causing progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) in the Phalene and Papillon dog breeds. PRA is one of the most common causes of blindness in dogs and in human. This study highlights the shared genetic etiology of many canine and human genetic disorders, and provides new tools to investigate PRA mechanisms while the beloved dogs benefit from genetic testing.

As climate, disease links become clearer, study highlights need to forecast future shifts
Climate change is affecting the spread of infectious diseases worldwide, according to an international team of leading disease ecologists, with serious impacts to human health and biodiversity conservation. Writing in the journal Science, they propose that modeling the way disease systems respond to climate variables could help public health officials and environmental managers predict and mitigate the spread of lethal diseases.

Poor oral health linked to cancer-causing oral HPV infection
Poor oral health, including gum disease and dental problems, was found to be associated with oral human papillomavirus infection, which causes about 40 percent to 80 percent of oropharyngeal cancers, according to a study published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

First scientific method to authenticate world's costliest coffee
The world's most expensive coffee can cost $80 a cup, and scientists now are reporting development of the first way to verify authenticity of this crème de la crème, the beans of which come from the feces of a Southeast Asian animal called a palm civet. Their study appears in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Development of a therapeutic algorithm for optimal nosebleed management
Approximately 60 percent of people experience epistaxis, commonly known as nosebleed, at least once in their lifetime. Of those who experience nosebleed, six percent require medical treatment. A study in the September 2013 issue of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, explores which nosebleed treatment options demonstrate the best outcomes.

Chinese CDC and Aeras sign agreement to collaborate on TB vaccine R&D
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Aeras today signed a memorandum of understanding to advance research and development of new tuberculosis vaccines.

Even mild stress can make it difficult to control your emotions, NYU researchers find
Even mild stress can thwart therapeutic measures to control emotions, a team of neuroscientists at New York University has found. Their findings point to the limits of clinical techniques while also shedding new light on the barriers that must be overcome in addressing afflictions such as fear or anxiety.

Smokers who survive to 70 still lose 4 years of life
Smokers who survive to 70 still lose an average of four years of life, according to findings from the Whitehall study presented at ESC Congress 2013 today by Dr. Jonathan Emberson from the UK.

Novel drug shuts down master protein key to lymphoma
Researchers have discovered how an experimental drug is capable of completely eradicating human lymphoma in mice after just five doses. The study, led by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College, sets the stage for testing the drug in clinical trials of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, the most common subtype of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, itself the seventh most frequently diagnosed cancer in the US.

Emotional behavior of adults could be triggered in the womb
Adults could be at greater risk of becoming anxious and vulnerable to poor mental health if they were deprived of certain hormones while developing in the womb according to new research by scientists at Cardiff and Cambridge universities.

Middle-aged men, women not equal in heart attack risk
High cholesterol levels are much more risky for middle-aged men than middle-aged women when it comes to having a first heart attack, a new study of more than 40,000 Norwegian men and women has shown.

Oral nutritional supplements demonstrate significant health and cost benefits
A recent health economics and outcomes study, conducted by leading health economists and supported by Abbott, found that oral nutritional supplements provided to patients during hospitalization were associated with significant reductions in length of stay and hospitalization cost. Additionally, the 30-day readmission risk was significantly reduced for patients with at least one known subsequent readmission.

Ancient mammal relatives cast light on recovery after mass extinction
In the aftermath of the largest mass extinction in Earth history, anomodonts -- ancient relatives of mammals -- did not evolve any fundamentally new features, according to new research published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. This suggests that the evolutionary bottleneck they passed through during the extinction constrained their evolution during the recovery.

Protein involved in nerve-cell migration implicated in spread of brain cancer
The invasion of brain-tumor cells into surrounding tissue requires the same protein molecule that neurons need to migrate into position as they differentiate and mature, according to new research from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine and published Aug. 7 in the online journal PLOS ONE.

Moderate physical activity does not increase risk of knee osteoarthritis
Adults age 45 and older who engaged in moderate physical activity up to two and a half hours a week did not increase their risk of developing knee osteoarthritis over a six-year follow-up period, a new study finds.

Tool kit answers mental health and epilepsy questions for parents
Researchers from Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic have created

Combined therapy could repair and prevent damage in Duchenne muscular dystrophy
New research on two promising gene therapies suggests that combining them into one treatment not only repairs muscle damage caused by Duchenne muscular dystrophy, but also prevents future injury from the muscle-wasting disease. The work, led by a team at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, is the first to look at the approach in aged mice, a key step toward clinical trials in patients.

SAGE and Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs launch new journal Drug Science, Policy and Law
SAGE and the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs today announced the launch of Drug Science, Policy and Law, an online journal supporting the ICSD's goals of providing accessible information on drugs to the public and professionals.

Geoscientists unearth mineral-making secrets potentially useful for new technologies
Proteins have gotten most of the attention in studies of how organic materials control the initial step of making the first tiny crystals that organisms use to build structures that help them move and protect themselves. Virginia Tech researchers have discovered that certain types of sugars, known as polysaccharides, may also control the timing and placement of minerals that animals use to produce hard structures.

Study finds physicians need to better recognize use of herbal supplements while breastfeeding
In an article published in this month's issue of Pediatrics In Review, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine stress the importance of physicians recognizing that many mothers use herbal supplements while breastfeeding in order to make accurate health assessments for both mother and child.

UCSB study examines heavy metal pollutants in fish at oil platforms and natural sites
A recent study by UC Santa Barbara scientists analyzed whole-body fish samples taken from oil-and-gas production platforms and natural sites for heavy metal pollutants. The results showed all but four elements were relatively consistent at both types of location. The findings were published in the Bulletin of Marine Science.

Sericin can alleviate diabetic hippocampal injury
Preliminary studies by Dr. Zhihong Chen and colleagues from Chengde Medical College have shown that sericin might improve aberrant Akt signaling, decrease heme oxygenase-1 expression in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex, and reduce the apoptosis of hippocampal neurons in diabetic rats, thus protecting the nervous system.

Whole-genome sequencing uncovers the mysteries of the endangered Chinese alligator
In a study published in Cell Research, Chinese scientists from Zhejiang University and BGI have completed the genome sequencing and analysis of the endangered Chinese alligator (Alligator sinensis). This is the first published crocodilian genome, providing a good explanation of how terrestrial-style reptiles adapt to aquatic environments and temperature-dependent sex determination.

Infectious diseases and climate change intersect with no simple answers
Climate change is already affecting the spread of infectious diseases -- and human health and biodiversity worldwide -- according to disease ecologists reporting research results in this week's issue of the journal Science.

New tool enhances the search for genetic mutations
Reed Cartwright, a researcher at Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute, along with colleagues at ASU, Washington University and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK, report on a new software tool known as DeNovoGear, which uses statistical probabilities to help identify mutations and more accurately pinpoint their source and their possible significance for health.

CRISPR/Cas genome engineering system generates valuable conditional mouse models
Whitehead Institute researchers have used the gene regulation system CRISPR/Cas (for

Newly found pulsar helps astronomers explore Milky Way's mysterious core
The new discovery of a pulsar that is the closest yet found to the Milky Way's central supermassive black hole has provided an important measurement of the magnetic field produced by a rotating disk surrounding the black hole.

ADHD and texting found to significantly impair teenage driving
ADHD and texting both significantly impair driving performance among teenagers, according to a study published online today in JAMA Pediatrics. Researchers from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center used a driving simulator to test the driving performance of 16- and 17-year-old drivers; approximately half of the study's 61 participants had been diagnosed with ADHD, the other half had not.

First pre-clinical gene therapy study to reverse Rett symptoms
The concept behind gene therapy is simple: Deliver a healthy gene to compensate for one that is mutated. New research published today in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests this approach may eventually be a feasible option to treat Rett Syndrome, the most disabling of the autism spectrum disorders. Gail Mandel, Ph.D., a Howard Hughes Investigator at Oregon Health and Sciences University, led the study.

Autistic kids who best peers at math show different brain organization, Stanford/Packard study shows
hildren with autism and average IQs consistently demonstrated superior math skills compared with nonautistic children in the same IQ range, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.

UTHealth, Swedish researchers uncover mystery in blood clotting disorder
Fifteen years ago, a hematologist came to Dianna Milewicz, M.D., Ph.D., with a puzzle: Multiple generations of an East Texas family suffered from a moderately severe bleeding disorder, but it wasn't hemophilia.

New approach to celiac testing identifies more Australians at risk
Australian researchers have developed a new approach to detecting celiac disease, revealing this immune disorder is far more common than previously recognized.

NIH funds research to explore a cell communication process
The National Institutes of Health announced it will award $17 million this year for 24 research projects designed to improve scientists' understanding of a newly discovered type of cell-to-cell communication based on extracellular RNA. Through these awards, scientists will explore basic exRNA biology and develop tools and technologies that apply new knowledge about exRNA to the research, diagnosis and treatment of many types of cancer, bone marrow disorders, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and multiple sclerosis.

Architecture of chromosomes: A key for success or failure
In a pioneer study published in the latest issue of the scientific journal Nature Communications, a research team at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC; Portugal), led by Miguel Godinho Ferreira in collaboration with Isabel Gordo, show for the first time that chromosomes rearrangements (such as inversions or translocations) can provide advantages to the cells that harbor them depending on the environment they are exposed.

Thyroid cancer biopsy guidelines should be simplified, researchers say
A team led by UC San Francisco researchers has called for simplified guidelines on when to biopsy thyroid nodules for cancer, which they say would result in fewer unnecessary biopsies.

Gene makes some HIV-infected patients more at risk for fungal disease
HIV-infected people who carry a gene for a specific protein face a 20-fold greater risk of contracting cryptococcal disease, according to a study published in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

First hundred thousand years of our universe
Berkeley Lab researchers have taken the furthest look back through time yet -- 100 years to 300,000 years after the Big Bang -- and found tantalizing new hints of clues as to what might have happened.

Flexible throughout life by varying numbers of chromosome copies
Baker's yeast is a popular test organism in biology. Yeasts are able to duplicate single chromosomes reversibly and thereby adapt flexibly to environmental conditions. Scientists from the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicineof the University of Luxembourg, in collaboration with colleagues from the US Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, have now systematically studied the genetics of this process, which biologists refer to as aneuploidy.

Researchers slow light to a crawl in liquid crystal matrix
Light traveling in a vacuum is the Universe's ultimate speed demon, racing along at approximately 300,000 kilometers/second. Now scientists have found an effective new way to put a speed bump in light's path. Reported today in The Optical Society's open-access journal Optics Express, researchers from France and China embedded dye molecules in a liquid crystal matrix to throttle the group velocity of light back to less than one billionth of its top speed.

Gentemann to receive Falkenberg Award
Chelle L. Gentemann, Ph.D., senior principal scientist at Remote Sensing Systems is the recipient of this year's Falkenberg Award. The award is given to a scientist under age 45 who has contributed to the quality of life, economic opportunities and stewardship of the planet through the use of Earth science information. Gentemann is an alumna of the University of Miami and will be honored at a banquet on Dec. 11, as part of the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco.

Cocaine's effect on mice may explain drug-seeking behavior
Cocaine can speedily rewire high-level brain circuits that support learning, memory and decision-making, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley, and UCSF. The findings shed new light on the frontal brain's role in drug-seeking behavior and may be key to tackling addiction.

Discovering a diamondback moth: Overlooked diversity in a global pest
A new species of diamondback moth has been discovered in Australia. It was previously overlooked because of its similarity with typical diamondback moths. Description of the new species was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

Breastfeeding may reduce Alzheimer's risk
Mothers who breastfeed their children may have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease, with longer periods of breastfeeding also lowering the overall risk, a new study suggests.

A magnetar at the heart of our Milky Way
Radio astronomers use a pulsar with a strong magnetic field to investigate a supermassive black hole.

New surgical tool may help sleep apnea sufferers, Wayne State research finds
A Wayne State University researcher's innovative use of a new tool may make surgery a more viable option for sufferers of obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome.

New explanation for key step in anthrax infection proposed by NIST and USAMRIID
A new hypothesis concerning a crucial step in the anthrax infection process has been advanced by scientists at NIST and the US Army Medical Research Institute for infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland. 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