Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (December 1997)

Science news and science current events archive December, 1997.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from December 1997

'The Doctor Had No Time To Explain'
When the parents of children diagnosed with chronic illnesses were asked about non-supportive and hurtful behaviors from relatives, friends and health-care providers, they said more than a third of such incidents came from those they most expected to help -- doctors and other health professionals.

Air Could Be The Secret To Faster Computers
Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are creating and studying aerogels, substances so porous they are more air than solid material. When used as insulators on computer chips, these porous materials could more than double computing speeds.

UNC Scientists Find Key Mechanism By Which Cancer Cells Avoid Suicide
A natural, normally beneficial protein called NF-kappa B teams up with a cancer gene to prevent cells in the body from killing themselves as they are supposed to after turning cancerous, researchers have discovered.

Catalogs Can Increase Bottom Line By 50%, Reduce Risk, Say Authors Of Operations Research Study
BALTIMORE - Faced with the perils of misjudging what the public will purchase, catalogs can increase net cash by as much as 50% by perfecting a strategy for reducing risk, according to an article in a journal published by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).

Study Identifies Level Of Vision That Alters Child's Development
Researchers at the universities of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Colorado have discovered that development in children whose visual acuity was 20/500 or better was significantly better than the development of children whose visual acuity was 20/800 or worse.

New Cancer Vaccine Processing Facility Comes To Jefferson
A unique processing facility at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, promises to step up production of a potentially life-saving vaccine against a deadly skin cancer, malignant melanoma. It may be the only laboratory of its kind in the nation.

Harvard Medical School Researchers Map Prevalence Of Gambling Disorders In North America
A Harvard Medical School Division on Addictions study has found that the prevalence of gambling disorders among adults in the United States and Canada has increased during the past two decades.

Ice-Comet Debate Continues: Review Of Data Indicates That The Cause Is Noise
A constant rain of comets pelting the Earth probably is just noise common to many scientific instruments, according to a scientist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. In a paper to be presented today at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, Dr. James Spann says that images of comet impacts are random events common to instruments using image intensifiers like night-vision goggles.

Knee Replacement Patients Who Have Dental Work Susceptible To Infection Years After Surgery
People who have total knee replacements and later undergo extensive dental work may be susceptible to knee infections years after their initial surgery, according to a study by Johns Hopkins physicians.

Strange South American Fossil Mammals Found In Madagascar And India
A strange group of fossil mammals, heretofore only known in South America, has been discovered on the island of Madagascar and in India. The unexpected discoveries were announced in this week's issue of the journal Nature by an international team of researchers. The team was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and led by paleontologist David Krause of the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Hopkins Researchers Closing In On Manic-Depressive Gene
Johns Hopkins researchers have confirmed that a gene related to bipolar disorder in families is located in the

Landmark Discovery Achieved In Cardiovascular Gene Project
An international team of researchers has discovered most of the genes in the cardiovascular system. The results of the four-year research project led by Professor C. C. Liew of the University of Toronto are published in the Dec. 16 issue of Circulation.

Dendritic Cell Therapy For The Treatment Of Cancer
Dendritic cells help the body to switch on an immune response by seeking out foreign proteins and showing them to immune cells. Recent advances have made it possible to grow large numbers of dendritic cells in the lab, opening the way to their use in the treatment of cancer.

Atom By Atom Chemistry On A Catalytic Surface
A group of scientists at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin achieved to view the individual atoms and molecules during a chemical reaction and to measure reaction rates by analyzing the number of atoms reacting per time interval. This work directly relates atomic rates with the macroscopic quantities of ordinary chemistry.

New Book Dissects Mathematical Puzzles And Their History
A new book by Purdue University Professor Greg Frederickson may reshape the way you think about mathematical puzzles. In the book, Frederickson explores the challenges of geometric dissections, the mathematical art of cutting figures into the fewest number of pieces that can be rearranged to form other figures.

$3.5 Million Grant To Establish Unique Center
Researchers at Penn State have received a $3.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to establish the nation's only resource center for the development of ultrasonic transducer/array technology for medical diagnostic procedures. This technology is used in the probes doctors hold against a patient during an ultrasound scan.

Axons Regenerated In Adult Nerve Pathways In Rats
Transplanted adult nerve cells can regenerate their axons in the adult rat brain's nerve fiber pathways, challenging long-held beliefs that this is impossible. Neuroscientists from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine publish their results in the December 18-25

Anabolic Steroid Use Rising Among Teenage Girls; Stable Among Boys
Among teenage girls, anabolic steroid use has approximately doubled since 1991, whereas use among adolescent boys has remained nearly unchanged, according to a new study.

Criteria For Stroke-Preventing Surgery May Underestimate Women's Risk
Criteria commonly used to decide whether those at risk for stroke should have preventative surgery or drug therapy may underestimate the risk in women and overestimate it for men, acccording to Lisa Tartaglino, M.D., associate professor of radiology, Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia.

Imagination Can Enhance Visual Perception: Weizmann Scientists Reveal Windows On Your Mind
Bringing up images from short-term memory enhances our ability to see what's really there, Weizmann Institute scientists report in the current issue of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. In contrast, images from long-term memory may interfere with visual perception.

First Maryland Patient Gets New Device To Control Seizures
A 27-year-old Carroll County woman finally hopes to gain some control over her epileptic seizures with a new device implanted in her chest that sends electrical impulses to her brain via a nerve in her neck. In a surgical procedure at the University of Maryland Medical Center on December 15, Erinn Elizabeth Farver became the first person in Maryland to receive the new device, called a vagus nerve stimulator.

Regulator Of Fat Thermostat Found
Medical researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have identified the first factor to significantly boost human leptin concentrations. This substance also boosted leptin levels in some overweight individuals, suggesting that overweight people still have leptin reserves.

Four-Year, Nationwide Study Sharp Race andGender Differences in Incidence of ''AcademicDisidentification'
African American boys, compared with Whites, Hispanics and African American girls, are

Scientists Identify Strong Genetic Link To Allergies
Researchers have known for some time that allergies have a genetic link, but information about which genes are responsible has been limited. Now, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified a genetic mutation that appears to make people more susceptible to allergies.

Mental Stress Response Linked To Blood Vessel Blockages
For the first time, in a large study, researchers have linked an exaggerated response to mental stress to blood vessel blockages that can trigger heart attacks and strokes. The findings appear in today's American Heart Association journal Circulation.

3D Visualization Software To Help With Information Overload
Starlight, an advanced three-dimensional visualization technology, has been developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., to help solve the problem of information overload. Already in use by the U.S. intelligence community, Starlight can be applied to a variety of other fields, such as medical data analysis, environmental security and current events monitoring.

Earthquake News From The AGU Meeting
At the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, geologist Roland Burgmann of the University of California, Davis, will discuss several new studies of fault activity in the San Francisco Bay Area and around the world.

Virginia Tech Students Receive $250,000 Fuel Cell From DOE For The 1998-99 Futurecar Challenge
As participants in the 1998-99 FutureCar Challenge, Virginia Tech engineering students will receive a hydrogen-powered fuel cell worth $250,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and a new Chevrolet Lumina from General Motors.

President Clinton Honors Recipients Of The Nation's Highest Science And Technology Awards
President Clinton today presented the nation's most prestigious science and technology honors, awarding nine National Medals of Science and five National Medals of Technology.

Promising Fatty Acid Research Leads To MS Clinical Trial
Feeding with novel fatty acids has been shown to stop disease development in rodents with an experimental disease resembling multiple sclerosis. A clinical trial will start early in 1998.

90% Leukemia Cure Rate Said Possible As International Meeting Of Research Leaders Convenes
A pediatric leukemia cure rate of 90 percent should be possible early next century according to researchers at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital if success comes from research initiatives discussed at a meeting beginning today at St. Jude of 30 of the world's top specialists associated with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) treatment and research.

Cosmic Crumbs 'May Have The Numbers'
After analysing only 2% of the data from a new survey with the Parkes radiotelescope, CSIRO astronomers have found far more dwarf galaxies than they expected.

Results Of Phase 2 Hemorrhage Drug Reported
Researchers say a new drug has tested well for patients who have suffered a severe blood loss (hemorrhage) due to trauma. The drug is Neuprex (rBPI21) and is made by the XOMA Corporation of Berkeley, Calif.

Mysterious Wildlife Disease
A mysterious disease that has killed bald eagles and American coots in southwest Arkansas may now be present in two other states, according to wildlife disease specialists at the U.S. Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin.

Free Radicals Implicated In Impaired Lung Function; Damage May Be Mitigated By Certain Antioxidants
Epidemiologists at the University at Buffalo have found that a miniscule increase above an acceptable threshold of a substance in the blood that indicates cell damage caused by bombardment from free oxygen molecules (a condition defined as oxidative stress) reflects damage to the lungs equivalent to the effect of 3-5 years of aging, or of approximately 15- 20 pack years of smoking.

Scientific Report Gives Food Irradiation Two Thumbs Up
Irradiation can effectively eliminate pathogens and reduce spoilage microorganisms while maintaining the wholesomeness and fresh quality of food, according to the Institute of Food Technologists' Scientific Status Summary

Increased Amount Of Enzyme In Brain May Be Marker Of Alzheimer's Disease
An enzyme present in extremely low quantities in normal brains has been found to be greatly increased in the brain of patients with Alzheimer's disease. Northwestern University researchers found that the enzyme, butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), increases at the stage when beta-amyloid plaques in the brain become compact and insoluble.

Society Of Actuaries Surveys Experts On Longer Life Spans And Forecasting Mortality For Social Security
Forecasting methods with greater heed to uncertainty are necessary if financing needs for social security are to be more accurately projected, says a survey of experts. The survey was conducted by the Society of Actuaries during a multidisiplinary seminar on mortality improvement in the NAFTA countries.

Calm Alternative To Heated Debate On Crime Given By Operations Research, Says Rand Analyst
Emotional decisions about how to fight crime can be made with the help of operations research, mathematical modeling, and sensitivity analysis according to an article published by INFORMS and written by Dr. Jonathan Caulkins, the principal author of a report on mandatory minimum sentencing released earlier this year by RAND.

Draft Of Video Standard Includes University Of Rochester Animation Technology
Computer experts recently agreed on the final draft of MPEG- 4, a potential new multimedia standard that brings together and standardizes audio, video, and animation technology from about 25 companies and universities around the world for applications like the Web, television, and digital video disks.

Imaging Reveals Whether Breast Cancer Treatment Is Working
Using positron emission tomography (PET), researchers have discovered a way to quickly tell if women with advanced breast cancer will likely respond to hormone therapy. This finding could reduce the need for harsher chemotherapy.

Seafood On The Menu For Rheumatoid Arthritis Sufferers
The type of polyunsaturated fat in your diet could be important if you suffer from an inflammatory disease like rheumatoid arthritis. American research suggests that the types of fat found in seafood can have a calming effect on neutrophils, a type of white blood cell which promote inflammation.

Exercise Cuts Rate Of Diabetes In Pregnancy Among Morbidly Obese Women
Extremely overweight women who become pregnant can cut their risk of developing gestational diabetes by taking part in moderate physical activity, a new study has shown.

AAAS Honors Pfiesteria Researcher With 1998 Scientific Freedom And Responsibility Award
Despite receiving anonymous death threats and being poisoned by the very microorganism that she was studying, JoAnn Burkholder refused to abandon what she considered her scientific duty. For her unflagging dedication in focusing public attention on how U.S. rivers and fish could be devastated by a specific aquatic microbe, Pfiesteria piscicida, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has bestowed on Burkholder its 1998 Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award.

Greenhouse Gas Options For Developing Countries Under Study
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists are helping the world's developing and transitioning nations explore ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A new report by this group examines the trend toward increasing GHG emissions in 14 developing nations, and how these nations may control the increases.

Studies Shed New Light On HIV Epidemic In India
Two NIAID-supported studies provide important new information about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in India, the country with the single largest number of HIV-infected persons in the world. One study identifies risk factors and describes clinical symptoms associated with newly acquired HIV infections. The other sheds light on how the virus is transmitted from high- risk to low-risk populations in India.

Underwater Habitat, Aquarius 2000, Returns To Sea Floor Off Key Largo; Science Missions To Resume In Spring 1998
Aquarius, the world's only underwater laboratory, was today reinstalled on the sea floor at a depth of 63 feet at Conch Reef in the Florida National Marine Sanctuary. After a series of systems tests, certification and dive training, science missions in Aquarius will resume in March or April 1998.

Natural Variability Is Key To River Restoration
The key to managing river ecosystems is to return them to their natural flow patterns, as much as possible. That is the conclusion of a six-university panel of river experts whose report,

School Teachers To Train In Energy Labs
The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy (DoE) have joined forces in an unprecedented program to make accessible DoE's extensive complex of 15 national labs and science facilities to train K-12 math and science teachers.

Artificial Viruses Key To Corneal Transplant Gene Therapy
Corneal grafts restore sight to around 60,000 people worldwide each year, but approximately a quarter fail within 4 years. London researchers are hoping to improve the success rate of this operation using gene therapy, and are developing man-made viruses to deliver the genes. 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