Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (February 1997)

Science news and science current events archive February, 1997.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from February 1997

First Smoke-Free Day Crucial To Success Quitting Smoking, Duke Researchers Find
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center and the Durham V.A. Medical Center say the psychological impact of taking even a single puff of a cigarette on a pre-set

Communication Skills Diminish Malpractice Risk
A JAMA study suggests that the most important reason patients with bad outcomes sue their doctors is not medical negligence but how their doctors talk to them. The study documented specific conversational behaviors that differed between physicians who were never sued and those who had a history of malpractice claims

Making ATMs Easier To Use
Automatic teller machine use will increase as banks begin to offer auto loan applications, stock information, detailed bank statements, and even movie ticket purchases electronically. Unfortunately, problems resulting from poor training will also increase unless bank staff provide better instructions to users, especially to older people. The authors poll users about their difficulties with ATMs and suggest improved training techniques

Mooney Calls On Scientists To Find How Biodiversity Protects Ecosystems
Stanford ecologist Harold Mooney reports on a new compelling reason for protecting ecosystem diversity: whenever a habitat loses enough richness and variation, it begins to falter and stop providing essential natural services that people take for granted and called on ecologists to study these effects.

'BirdSource' Website For Citizen-Science Data
One of the most comprehensive World Wide Web sites for amateur bird-watchers and professional ornithologists, BirdSource, opened for business Feb. 14 by accepting data from participants in Project FeederWatch at http://www.ornith.cornell.edu/CS/PFW/main.html. Co-managed by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society and constructed by the Cornell Theory Center, the Web site was demonstrated at the Seattle annual meeting of the AAAS.

WWF, WCS Unveil New Strategy To Save Tigers
From the Russian Far East to the southern tip of Sumatra, tigers have declined by nearly 95 percent in the last 100 years. Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) will unveil a new strategy for conserving tigers at the Zoological Society of London symposium, ãTigers 2000.ä The meeting, scheduled for February 20-21, will bring together many of the worldâs top tiger experts.

A Drop Of Drink Can Protect Against Stroke, But Even A Bit Of Smoke Increases Risk
A bit of alcohol can protect against stroke, but even a little cigarette smoke carries a hidden stroke risk, researchers reported here today at the American Heart Association's 22nd International Joint Conference on Stroke and Cerebral Circulation

Links Between Children's Health And Wealth Confusing Among African Pastoralists
Apparent wealth is not necessarily a good indicator of children's health among pastoralists in Africa, according to a Penn State anthropologist. A study of the Herero suggests that apparent wealth, in the form of dairy cattle, may not be a good indicatorof the health of children below the age of 10

Learning From Birds And Bees: Engineers Study Insects For Ideas On Tiny "Micro Air Vehicles"
Imagine an aircraft small enough to fit into the palm of your hand, yet able to fly into damaged buildings to search for survivors or onto battlefields to detect toxic chemicals.

Vietnamese Chemist Finds New Use For Old Cashew Shells
A research collaboration between Vietnamese chemists and the University of Cincinnati could turn common waste materials into important raw materials for industry. The partnership, which is supported by the National Science Foundation, allows Vietnamese chemists to work in U.S. labs. The current project involves improving rubber by using compounds found in castor oil and cashew shells

Gold: Life On Mars May Still Exist
Life on Mars probably did and may still exist, a Cornell astronomer says. Mars, like Earth, has a

Penn State Scientist Heats Up Research On Package Humidity
When it comes to improving the quality and shelf life of packaged fresh mushrooms, it's not the heat, it's the humidity, says a food scientist in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

UT-Houston Scientists Shed Light On How Memories Are Formed
Neuroscientists at UT-Houston are a step closer to understanding the processes underlying learning and memory. In a report in today's Science magazine, they describe how a protein molecule induces changes in neurons similar to those associated with learning. The work may have implications for the treatment of learning disabilities

Gene Therapy In Brain Protects Neurons From Parkinson's Damage
Scientists have used gene therapy to provide protection to nerve cells in an animal's brain by boosting the production of a key protein messenger that staves off symptoms of Parkinson's disease. The work by scientists at the University of Rochesterand collaborators is reported in today's issue of Science.

Adolescent Moms Who Finish High School Belie Stereotypes, UGA Researcher Finds
A national study on adolescent mothers who complete high school debunks a number of stereotypes, according to a University of Georgia researcher

New Theory, Technologies Expected To Step Up Detection Of Black Holes
Two University of Colorado at Boulder astrophysicists believe a theory they developed with Stanford University researchers may help pinpoint more black hole candidates in distant space when used in concert with a unique NASA satellite

Experiments Show That Simply Imagining Fictitious Childhood Events Sometimes Makes People Believe They Experienced Them
The power of human imagination may be stronger than previously suspected, blurring the line between memory and imagination, says a University of Washington psychologist.

Helping Students Build Portfolios Rather Than Transcripts
An approach, called product-based learning, takes the idea of

Thyroid Hormones May Influence Neural Function, Study Suggests
Changes in hormones produced by the thyroid gland may influence how certain neurons in the central nervous system function, a new study at Ohio University suggests. The findings could have implications for researchers studying how thyroid hormones affect different bodily functions, and for physicians who prescribe thyroid hormones to treat depression

Manufacturing The Right Sizes For Cost-Efficiency
The vast range of people's sizes can have costly consequences for manufacturers of clothing and environments that must be designed to fit the human body. The authors use foot measurements and a Windows-based database program to arrive at the optimum range of shoe sizes to illustrate the value of applying ergonomics principles to take the guesswork out of product sizing decisions

Math Department Culture May Be Key To Student Advancement
Higher math is becoming more essential in more careers, yet too many high school students don't advance beyond first-year algebra. Some of the reasons might be found in the practices, policies and culture of high school math departments, says a University of Illinois professor of education

Stroke Prevention Practices Differ Significantly between United States and United Kingdom
Patients at high risk for stroke are much more likely to be referred to advanced diagnostic procedures and/or treated aggressively with anticoagulant drugs in America than in the United Kingdom, according to a survey of generalist primary care physiciansin both countries

New Green Revolution: Adding Micronutrients
Thirty years after the first Green Revolution, Cornell researchers want to kick-start another one. This time, they want to add micronutrients to staple crops, making the food we eat even more nutritious

Too Few Able To Recognize 'Brain Attack'
The ability to recognize symptoms and risk factors for stroke, the nationâs third leading cause of death and leading cause of serious disability, appears to be woefully inadequate among the general public and people experiencing

Early Menopause Stress Related In Developing Countries
Women in developing countries who reach menopause early may be experiencing the same condition as anorexics and runners, rather than the natural progression of aging, according to a Penn State researcher.

University Of Pittsburgh Medical Center Researchers Present Preliminary Evidence Demonstrating Gene Expression In World's First Arthritis Gene Therapy
Results of several tests indicate the successful transfer and expression of a therapeutic gene in the world's first arthritis gene therapy patient, according to a presentation by a research team from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center at the meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in San Francisco

New Study of Colon Cancer Starting Among Blacks, Whites, At UNC-CH
For the past 25 years, colon cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, has been decreasing among whites but increasing among blacks

Scientists Determine 3-D Crystal Structure Of Cancer-Causing Protein
The three-dimensional picture of a cancer-causing protein illuminates how a mutated gene transforms cells into cancer, report scientists from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at The Rockefeller University in the Feb. 13 Nature. The determination of this structure clarifies earlier models that sought to explain how the gene, called src, works and offers new information for designing drug therapies to fight cancers

Wake Forest Professor's Math Gives Telescopes, New Laser Weapons "Hubble-Like" Vision
The Hubble Space Telescope isn't the only stargazer getting better eyes to view the universe. Adaptive optics, using high-speed computers, deformable mirrors that can rapidly alter their shape, artificial laser guide stars and algorithms developed by Robert J. Plemmons is producing the highest-resolution telescopes on Earth and giving new laser weapons better aim to zap enemy missiles

New "Protective" Drug Reduces Disability From Strokes Caused By Blood Clots
ANAHEIM, Calif., Feb. 8 -- First came drugs to break apart clots that can cause a stroke when they block an artery carrying blood to the brain. Now researchers are developing a new family of drugs called neuroprotectants designed to minimize the disabling damage to brain tissue that can occur downstream from the clot, caused by the loss of blood flow that characterizes these ischemic strokes

Stronger Evidence That Global Climate Change Can Reduce The Variety Of Life
A half-million-year record of some deep-water cousins of crabs called ostracodes provides some of the strongest evidence yet that global climate change can reduce the variety of life forms on Earth, according to a report released Thursday (Feb. 13, 1997)by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Scientists Struggle To Measure Latest West Coast Flooding
Recent floods in the Pacific Northwest damaged or destroyed about 146 streamflow measuring stations in early January, hampering attempts to provide basic floodflow measurements during the current floods, according to the U.S. Geological Survey

Elastic Plastic Moving From Lab To Industry
One of the results of Stanford chemistry prof. Robert Waymouth's attempt to create a new type of catalyst was a method to produce elastic polypropylene. Now Amoco is commercializing the new variety of plastic, which is both inexpensive and recyclable

Digitalis Reduces Hospitalization For Heart Failure
Digitalis, one of the most commonly used heart drugs, has no effect on survival of heart failure patients, according to a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute-supported clinical trial. But the trial found that the drug eases symptoms for those with heart failure, helping to keep them out of the hospital

Key Finding In Mars-Rock Debate Still Points Toward Potential Past Life On The Red Planet
Last August, a group of scientists stunned the scientific world with evidence that life may have once existed on Mars. In the six months since then, several studies have questioned their interpretations. In a speech today (2/15/97, EMBARGOED) at the annual meeting of the AAAS, a key researcher in the original project called dismissals of the claims entirely premature

FAA Sends NCAR And NOAA Researchers To Study Aircraft-Threatening Turbulence In Colorado Springs
Weather researchers from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are flying a research aircraft through high winds and deploying a wide array of specialized instruments to study turbulence near the Colorado Springs, Colorado, airport in February and March

President Requests $3.4 Billion For NSF In FY 1998
The National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced the outline for the Presidentâs fiscal year 1998 budget request to provide the agency with $3.367 billion, a three percent rise over the current yearâs estimate

World's Most Innovative GPS Network To Monitor Southern California's Earthquake Faults
Southern California may soon be the best-surveyed area on the planet, thanks to powerful tools used by scientists seeking to understand the region's earthquake potential

Stopping Nitric Oxide Build
A drug that stops overproduction of nitric oxide, a chemical normally involved in many body functions, may reduce the risk of brain damage that sometimes occurs when the body is cooled during heart surgery, a Johns Hopkins animal study suggests

First Working Model Of Cellular Furnace Created
Stanford scientists have created the first working model of the cellular furnace that heats and powers nearly all living things ¯ an enzyme called cytochrome c oxidase

Most PCBs In The Environment Not As Carcinogenic As Previously Thought, According To New Study From The University Of Georgia
Scientists believe there is little doubt that compounds called PCBs cause cancer in animal studies. But a new study by a University of Georgia researcher has found that many of the PCBs in the environment may not be as carcinogenic as previously thought

New Method For the Separation of Isotopes
A Weizmann Institute of Science researcher has turned a 70 year-old textbook concept in quantum mechanics into a practical method for separating isotopes. The technique's first experimental application has been reported in *Physical Review Letters* andreviewed in *Physics Today*

Study Suggests Three Mile Island Radiation May Have Injured People Living Near Reactor
Exposure to high doses of radiation shortly after the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island may have increased cancer among Pennsylvanians downwind of the plant, scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill say

Paramedic-Administered Test Identifies Stroke, Can Facilitate Faster Treatment
A new three-minute screening test that detects one-sided motor paralysis allows paramedics and other first-responders to rapidly identify people experiencing a stroke

New 'Wave' In Space Exploration May Be Coming Soon
First there was

Dixie May Not Rise Again
Countries like Mexico that look at the amazing rise of commerce and industrialization in the rural American South for guidance, may benefit from looking at the realities rather than the rhetoric, according to Penn State geographers

Molecular Imposter Rebuts Long
Ever since Watson and Crick first cracked the structure of DNA in 1953, biochemists have speculated that hydrogen bonding between DNA's four bases plays a key role in the amazing accuracy of this genetic blueprint. But new research with a molecular imposter is calling some of these long-held beliefs into question

Miraculous High-Tech Glasses Could Help Millions See Better
Her new glasses are no miracle, but donât try telling that to Jenna Meck, a visually impaired 21-year-old junior at Meredith College in Raleigh. She says the battery-powered, self-focusing, computer-controlled telescopic glasses are the next best thing.

Pacman In The Brain: Protein Chews Up Vital Memory Chemical
What does the human brain have in common with a popular video game and a carnivorous flower? A team from Israelâs Weizmann Institute and Franceâs Pasteur Institute found that proteins used by the brain to absorb glutamate both look and act like strikingly like Pacman or the Venus flytrap

How Teardrops And Bagels Are Producing Violent Stellar Outbursts In Space
They can resemble teardrops and bagels in space, and they can produce sudden and violent energy surges. The first year's results of the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer satellite is giving a close-up look at strange binary stars called cataclysmic variables. And the data is challenging researchers with a new frontier in the physics of extreme gravity and magnetism.

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