Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (December 2003)

Science news and science current events archive December, 2003.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from December 2003

Origin of multiple myeloma found in rare stem cell
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center scientists have identified the cell likely to be responsible for the development of multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow that destroys bone tissue. The research, published in Blood online, suggests that therapies designed for long-term cure of the disease should target this stem cell, which, unlike other cells, can copy itself and differentiate into one or more specialized cell types.

Metabolic syndrome strongly linked to heart attack and stroke
Four hallmarks of the metabolic syndrome - high blood pressure, high blood triglycerides, low blood HDL cholesterol and insulin resistance - are independently and significantly linked to heart attack and stroke, data from a national survey indicates.

Northwestern receives $10 million for cancer prevention trials
Northwestern University has been named one of six leading research institutions to conduct early-phase cancer prevention clinical trials. Of the total $42 million award from National Cancer Institute, Northwestern will receive $10 million.

Kids exposed to violence have more behavioral problems
Children who observe violence or are victims of it show more behavior problems than other children, according to a study of 175 children aged 9 to 12.

The NCOA and The Epilepsy Foundation launch initiative to educate about epilepsy in the elderly
Today at a media briefing in Boston, The National Council on the Aging (NCOA), The Epilepsy Foundation and UCB Pharma, Inc. announced an initiative to raise awareness of the national concern of epilepsy in the elderly and highlight the increasing incidence of the disorder in this population. The groups will address the challenges of treating elderly patients with epilepsy and improving their quality of life.

Black soot and snow: A warmer combination
New research from NASA scientists suggests emissions of black soot alter the way sunlight reflects off snow. According to a computer simulation, black soot may be responsible for 25 percent of observed global warming over the past century.

'Musical fruit' rich source of healthy antioxidants; black beans highest
Although researchers haven't come up with a foolproof way to avoid the indelicate side effect of beans, they have found yet another reason why you should eat more of them. In addition to their high fiber and protein content, a new study finds that beans, particularly black ones, are a rich but overlooked source of antioxidants and may provide health benefits similar to some common fruits, including grapes, apples and cranberries.

Researchers develop nanoscale fibers that are thinner than the wavelengths of light they carry
Researchers have developed a process to create wires only 50 nanometers (billionths of a meter) thick. Made from silica, the same mineral found in quartz, the wires carry light in an unusual way. Because the wires are thinner than the wavelengths of light they transport, the material serves as a guide around which light waves flow.

Study finds evidence for global methane release about 600 million years ago
Scientists at the University of California, Riverside and Columbia University have found evidence of the release of an enormous quantity of methane gas as ice sheets melted at the end of a global ice age about 600 million years ago, possibly altering the ocean's chemistry, influencing oxygen levels in the ocean and atmosphere, and enhancing climate warming because methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. The study was published in today's issue of the journal Nature.

December Geology and GSA Today media highlights
The December issue of Geology covers a wide variety of subjects and includes several newsworthy items. Topics include: new evidence regarding thermal power of the K-T boundary impact event; causes of selective extinction in the early Jurassic; controversy over mammalian dispersal when India and Eurasia first collided; and evidence of wildfire impacts on dating of rocks. Two possible greenhouse events in the late Cretaceous are the subject of the GSA Today science article.

Emotional stress contributes to oral health problems
Anxiety disorders, which include phobias, panic attacks, generalized anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), are serious conditions that have oral health implications such as dental caries, periodontal disease, and bruxism, but can be treated with a variety of methods, according to a report published in the November/December 2003 issue of General Dentistry, the clinical, peer-reviewed journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).

Americans speak out on cancer
Most Americans are far more afraid of cancer than getting into a serious car accident, or being victim of a violent crime or a terrorist attack. A large majority also favors increasing government funding for cancer research, with 63 percent saying they would be willing to double the current federal cancer budget. These are among the striking results of a nationwide survey that measured public attitudes and opinions about the country's efforts to eliminate cancer.

Estrogen promotes gender differences in brain's response to stress
Depression and other stress-related disorders are far more prevalent in young women than men. Mild stress exposure impairs the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that malfunctions in depression. Researchers from Yale University School of Medicine report that female rats with high estrogen levels are more impaired by mild stress exposure than males or females with low estrogen. Studies of how estrogen amplifies the stress response may help to reveal the neurobiological bases of depression.

Map of genes in plant root yields new tool for exploring tissue development
Researchers have created the first detailed map of when and where some 22,000 genes are expressed in each cell of the growing root of the small flowering plant Arabidopsis.

To see the message, just add noise
Paradoxical as it seems, a team of University of Southern California researchers has built a signal detector that only works when noise is added.

Race affects older Americans' likelihood of getting flu shot
As America battles the first wave of influenza this season, a new Duke University Medical Center study reveals a major gap in vaccination rates between older African-Americans and whites of the same age. The researchers also found that while vaccination rates in older Americans are on the rise, the elderly as a whole are still under-vaccinated.

Moderate alcohol use may be associated with brain shrinkage
Consuming low to moderate amounts of alcohol may be linked to decreased brain size in middle-aged adults, according to a new study published in today's rapid access issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Université de Montréal receives US$11.7 million grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
The Université de Montréal announced today a commitment of US$11.7 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build capacity for population and health research and policy in French-speaking sub-Saharan Africa. This program, lasting ten years and run in partnership with the Université de Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, will support reproductive health in the region by providing advanced training programs, developing a regional policy research leadership center, and establishing a network of specialists in the field.

Beyond beer, fags and chips
Over 200 health researchers and practitioners from across the UK will gather at the University of Warwick on 15th December 2003 to examine health inequalities and look at where Government policy and health practice need to be improved. Following an approach by Sir Donald Acheson to hold a review of progress since the 1998 Acheson Inquiry the event is set to debate health inequalities and to identify ways forward in terms of policy and practice.

Researchers say hybrid pick and place robots could be a third cheaper
Robot researchers have long looked at the science of Kinematics and particularly how it applies to parallel robotics as providing novel solutions to robotic problems. But now researchers at the University of Warwick and China's Tianjin University have used kinematic theory to produce a hybrid

NHGRI launches Social and Behavioral Research Branch
The new branch will develop cutting-edge approaches to translating the discoveries from the recently completed Human Genome Project into interventions for health promotion and disease prevention, and for counseling patients and families dealing with the impact of devastating genetic disorders.

World's biggest 'virtual supercomputer' given the go-ahead
The Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council has today announced GBP 16 million to create a massive computing Grid, equivalent to the world's second largest supercomputer after Japan's Earth Simulator computer.

Experimental Biology 2004 meets in Washington, D.C. April 17-21
Experimental Biology 2004 will bring together more than 12,000 independent scientists, representing 32 different biological and biomedical societies from the United States and other nations. Now in its 14th year, Experimental Biology has become one of the world's largest and most significant interdisciplinary scientific meetings.

University of Chicago instruments to reach comet, Mars in same busy week
University of Chicago scientists will start the new year at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., with a heavy agenda of extraterrestrial activities. They are participating in NASA missions that are scheduled to visit a comet Jan. 2 and land on Mars Jan. 3.

High school merit scholarship programs have potential flaws
Broad-based merit scholarship programs designed to create incentives for underperforming high school students have two potential flaws, according to Penn State researchers.

Moderate alcohol consumption linked to brain shrinkage
Low to moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a decrease in the brain size of middle-aged adults, according to a study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and other institutions. Brain atrophy is associated with impaired cognition and motor functions. The researchers also found that low or moderate consumption did not reduce the risk of stroke, which contradicts the findings of some previous studies.

Emory researchers develop model to track the evolution of emerging infectious diseases
A novel mathematical model developed at Emory University now gives public health leaders another tool to assess the risk of new infectious disease emergence that emphasizes the potentially perilous role of pathogen evolution.

Scientists say new mercury rules could mean continued risk for loons
Researchers from the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and other organizations conducting an ongoing study of common loons in the Adirondacks, say that the newly proposed regulations on mercury emissions could adversely affect these beloved birds, known for their haunting yodel-like calls.

'Panning for gold' in the maize genome
Decoding of a variety of plant genomes could accelerate due to two complementary methods that remove from analysis vast stretches of DNA that do not contain genes.

Small and deadly
Researchers at USC's Southern California Particle Center and Supersite launch an airborne investigation, using novel technologies, to find the missing link between smog and cardio-respiratory disease.

Third set of awards are announced under interagency biodiversity program
A consortium of Federal agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), have announced 12 new grants in the third set of awards in the International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups (ICBG) program. Support for the program will total approximately $5 million per year over the next five years, shared among NIH, NSF and USDA, and administered by NIH's Fogarty International Center (FIC).

Aspirin use safe and effective in patients with abnormal red cell counts (or with polycythemia)
The use of low-dose aspirin significantly reduces the risk of thrombosis in patients with polycythemia vera, an abnormal increase in blood cells resulting from excess production by the bone marrow, according to a study presented today during the 45th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology. Thrombosis is the formation or presence of a blood clot within a vessel that may cause a stroke or heart attack.

NYU Child Study Center to honor Larry Summers, President of Harvard and Ann Tenenbaum and Tom Lee
On Wednesday, December 3, 2003, The NYU Child Study Center will host its sixth annual dinner at the Regent Wall Street. Honorees include Lawrence H.. Summers, President of Harvard University and Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee for their commitment to children and adolescents.

SMCM professor discovers cattle hormones that leak into streams and alter fish reproduction
A study shows that hormones leaking into streams from cattle feedlots are altering the sexual characteristics of wild fish. Edward Orlando, assistant professor of biology at St. Mary's College of Maryland (SMCM), was the leading author in the study. Their report states that the findings

Carnegie Mellon rovers let museum visitors explore Mars as NASA rovers land
As NASA's twin rovers land on Mars next month, a cadre of 20 smart robots developed at Carnegie Mellon University will be deployed at some of the nation's most prestigious science museums so visitors can experience the thrill of exploring the red planet. The autonomous rovers will reside in Mars yards at the Smithsonian, Dulles Airport, National Science Center, San Francisco Exploratorium and NASA's Ames Research Center. where they will look for signs of life.

Concord grape juice improved memory and neuro-motor skills in animal study
Consuming Concord grape juice significantly improved laboratory animals' short-term memory in a water maze test as well as their neuro-motor skills in certain of the coordination, balance and strength tests, according to preliminary research presented at the 1st International Conference on Polyphenols and Health recently held in Vichy, France.

Yeast model yields insights into Parkinson's disease
Scientists who developed the first yeast model of Parkinson's disease (PD) have been able to describe the mechanisms of an important gene's role in the disease. The study, which appears in the December 5, 2003, issue of the journal Science, was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (a part of the National Institutes of Health).

The 4th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-4)
The European Breast Cancer Conference is the only forum in Europe that involves all the major players in breast cancer. The conference is unique in encouraging interaction between clinicians and patients in a partnership of equals. EBCC-4 is expected to attract a record 4,000 delegates from around 80 countries worldwide.

Obesity risks add to complications of gastric bypass
The same health risks that make morbidly obese patients eligible for gastric bypass surgery also leave them susceptible to complications during and after the procedure, according to a five-year imaging study led by a Duke University Medical Center radiologist.

New ultrafast MRI benefits stroke patients
A new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology reduces brain-imaging time from 20 minutes to three minutes while maintaining accuracy and decreasing patient discomfort.

Tiny nanowire could be next big diagnostic tool for doctors
A tiny nanowire sensor -- smaller than the width of a human hair, 1,000 times more sensitive than conventional DNA tests, and capable of producing results in minutes rather than days or weeks -- could pave the way for faster, more accurate medical diagnostic tests for countless conditions and may ultimately save lives by allowing earlier disease detection and intervention, Harvard scientists say.

Three dusty beauties
Three new fine colour images of spiral galaxies have been obtained with the ESO Very Large Telescope.

American Society for Microbiology publication provides guidance for shipping biological agents
The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) announces the release of a new publication designed to help scientists understand and comply with the rules and regulations governing the shipment of biological and infectious substances.

Crucial moments on the way to Mars
Mars Express, ESA's first probe to Mars, still has some challenges to face.

New drug may help cancer patients in need of stem cell transplants, Jefferson trial shows
A new drug may help patients restore their blood-forming system after high-dose chemotherapy, a recent clinical trial shows. Patients with multiple myeloma or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma who received the drug AMD-3100 and the standard drug G-CSF had more stem cells available for transplantation than did those who received G-CSF alone. Such stem cells help restore the blood-forming system within the bone marrow - and the immune system, which is severely damaged or destroyed by chemotherapy and/or radiation.

Forensic radiology makes virtual autopsy a reality
Swiss investigators are partnering the latest in radiologic imaging technology with forensic science to provide a bloodless, minimally invasive method to examine victims for causes of accidental deaths and murders.

Pest control breakthrough - from a spider's stomach
DNA found in a spider's stomach could herald a breakthrough in the fight against farm pests, which cause millions of dollars of damage to crops. Cardiff University, UK, scientists, led by Dr Bill Symondson in the School of Biosciences, have become the first to use DNA-based techniques to analyse the content of spiders' guts to identify the prey they have eaten in the field.

Dr. Walter Reich, Ph.D., receives prestigious AAAS 2003 Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award
For his advocacy against crimes against humanity and for his work promoting the responsible conduct of science, Walter Reich, champion of human rights and the Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Professor of International Affairs, Ethics and Human Behavior at George Washington University, has been named to receive the highly coveted American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 2003 Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award.

Ten percent of employees experience work-family conflict
Dutch researcher Nicole Jansen has established that more than ten percent of employees experience a conflict between their work and their home situation. This means that employees have too little time or energy to effectively combine their work and home roles. Work time arrangements are a starting point for avoiding or reducing such conflicts.

January 2004 Ophthalmology journal
Studies from the January 2004 issue of Ophthalmology, the clinical journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, are now available. 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