Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (February 1998)

Science news and science current events archive February, 1998.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from February 1998

NSB Offers Recommendations On Future Of Federal Role In Graduate Education
The National Science Board (NSB) urges a reexamination of the federal/university partnership, and offers several recommendations for improvement, in a policy paper released today titled

University Of Colorado Student Satellite Set For Launch Feb. 4
A $5 million Earth orbiting satellite designed and built by a team of University of Colorado at Boulder students, faculty and engineers is currently slated for launch from California's Vandenburg Air Force Base on Feb. 4.

Medical Alchemy Could Cut Heart Failure Deaths University Of Maryland Scientists Turn Sodium Channels Into Calcium Channels
University of Maryland researchers have discovered a new cell-signaling pathway through which common neurotransmitters like adrenalin and drugs like digitalis can change sodium channels into calcium channels. Their findings could lead to development of new and effective drugs to treat heart failure, nerve, brain and muscle conditions.

Coupled Hydrologic Model Takes Cue From Atmosphere
A linked atmospheric and hydrologic model system that simulates storm events and river basin response may allow researchers to study flood and drought regimes and the effects of climate change, according to a Penn State researcher.

Unmasking The Blizzard Of 1996
Most people remember the Blizzard of 1996, but when Jon D. Radakovich recalls the blizzard, he can explain why it occurred. Working with Dr. Hampton N. Shirer, associate professor of meteorology, Radakovich, who was then a Penn State meteorology undergraduate, learned how to model the evolution of the blizzard using equations that capture the dynamics of storm development.

Researcher Identifies Two New Violet Species In Central America
Naming a plant is almost as difficult for a botanist as naming a child is for a parent. Even harder is tracing the plant's family roots, something one Ohio University scientist discovered while studying two newly identified Central American violet species.

Research Shows Homework Does Boost Academic Achievement; But Overemphasizing Grades And Performance May Lead To Cheating
The academic environment's influence on schoolchildren's attitudes about cheating and the value of homework are examined in two studies to be published in the March issue of the American Psychological Association's (APA) Journal of Educational Psychology.

How Can GPs And Specialists Best Learn From Each Other?
There is a mismatch between the education GPs want from specialists and what specialists are actually providing. Both are willing to learn from each other and so education should be a two way process, since this would help to promote mutual understanding of different roles and functions withing the medical profession

Humor Is Serious Business For Cincinnati Marketing Researchers
A group of researchers in the University of Cincinnati College of Business Administration has developed a tool to measure an individual's need for levity. The measurement instrument is expected to have applications in marketing and advertising where humor plays an important role. The research findings were presented at a conference in Austin, Texas this month.

Global Climate Change Creates Tangled Web Of Interactions
While climate modelers are busy predicting changes in global, regional and local weather patterns, a team of Penn State researchers is trying to determine how those changes will affect everything from drinking water and agricultural production to flooding and public health.

New Perspective Developed For Community Health Assessment
Researchers have developed a new approach to assess a community's social determinants of health that emphasizes the community's perspective.

Argonne Researchers Develops Simple, Inexpensive Method For Cleaning Industrial Waste Streams
A simplified approach to removing metals and radionuclides from waste or process streams, developed at Argonne National Laboratory could result in significant financial and environmental savings for a variety of industrial separations processes.

SOA Study Says Social Security Financing Would Be Relatively Unaffected By Largest Expected Mortality Improvements, But Uncertainty Persists
Social security financing in the U.S. and Canada is relatively immune from even the largest increase in human life span predicted by experts, a recent study concluded. While experts also believed life span would continue to lengthen and that populations of the elderly would increase, there was great discrepancy in predictions of the magnitude. This indicates uncertainty, and this uncertainty should be accounted for in mortality projections on which social security financing is based.

U.S. Navy To Depart U.S. Antarctic Program After 42 Years
A ceremony in Christchurch, New Zealand on February 20, 1998 marks a significant milestone in the U.S. Navy's withdrawal from the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) after 42 years.

Chemist Turns To Self-Assembly To Create New Drugs
Using metal atoms as molecular matchmakers, University of Rochester chemist Benjamin Miller has devised a new way of forming a nearly endless variety of potential drugs, then plucking out the most promising candidates for further study.

Columbia Chemist Develops Fluorescing Sensors; Applications Seen In Medical Diagnostics, Research
Columbia University chemist Clark Still has built molecular sensors that glow bright green when they bind to tripeptides. The sensors, when developed into a family of laboratory tools that could bind precisely to small biological molecules, could have applications in medical diagnostics, environmental sensing and biological research.

Emerging Field Of Industrial Ecology
Yale University --Technology, traditionally seen as the enemy of the environment, is likely to be a positive environmental force in the 21st century. Not only will technology help feed 10-12 billion people inhabiting the planet, but it also is likely to be central to improving the overall quality of life, according to Thomas E. Graedel, professor at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Graedel teaches industrial ecology.

Henry Ford Study Shows Daily Smoking May Lead To Major Depression
Daily smokers have twice the risk for major depression compared to people who have a history of smoking on an occassional basis, according to a Henry Ford Health System study.

Oregon Health Sciences University Researcher Presents Results Of Clinical Trials Of Possible Stroke-Fighting Drug
Results of clinical trials on the anti-stroke drug citicoline show no significant difference over placebo for patients with minor stroke. The drug did appear to produce an improvement over placebo in a subgroup of patients with moderate to severe stroke.

Stroke Incidence Significantly Higher Than Previously Estimated
A new study by researchers at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center suggests that the number of strokes in the United States may be dramatically higher than previously estimated. According to the study, approximately 700,000 strokes occur in the United States every year. This new estimate is 200,000 strokes higher than the previous estimate of 500,000 strokes a year.

Researchers Take Major Step Toward Cracking Ebola Code
Researchers are gaining valuable insight into how Ebola uses glycoproteins to wreak its deadly havoc. Results from this study provide insight into the strategies that Ebola virus uses to evade detection and point to potential antiviral targets. The new findings may also have far-reaching benefits for fighting other illnesses.

Researchers Investigate Years Before Menopause
Baby boomers in a long-term study of women's reproductive cycles are helping Penn State researchers map the uncharted years of perimenopause, the several years leading up to menopause.

Employer Bias Against Obese Persons Isn't Based On Looks, Study Finds
Researchers have speculated that looks motivate employers's reluctance to hire obese persons for jobs in which they have high public visibility. But a new study by Ohio University psychologists suggests it's the activity of the job and the obese person's perceived inability to perform it that deters employment, not physical appearance.

Hormone Control Of Rare Leukemia Sheds Light On Molecular Basis Of Cancer
The clarification of the biochemical mechanism behind acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), a rare bone marrow cancer, by University of Pennsylvania Medical Center researchers elucidated a process implicated in many other cancers. The study looks at the involvement of fusion proteins and retinoic acid in the molecular biology and treatment of APL.

Researchers Identify New Mechanism Underlying Pain
New research on neuropathic pain -- the kind of burning, shooting pain for which standard analgesics provide little relief -- is producing evidence that the immune system is intimately involved in the initiation and maintenance of pain, through production of proteins called cytokines.

Children's Cliques, Play and Culture Revealed by Sociological Spouses
For eight years, the husband-and-wife team of sociologists Patti and Peter Adler studied the world of children in grades three through six: their friendship patterns, cliques, gender differences, romantic forays, the changing nature of their after-school play and what makes certain children popular.

It's Emotional Abuse, Not Vicious Beatings, That Often Spurs Women To Leave Battering Husbands, UW Psychologists Report In New Book
It's the emotional scarring left by an abusive husband, not the pain and bruises inflicted in beatings that is more likely to trigger a battered wife's decision to leave her spouse, according to University of Washington psychologists who studied violent marriages.

Biologists Map First Gene For Age-Related Hearing Loss In Mice
A team of biologists from the University of Cincinnati, the Jackson Laboratory, and Northern Illinois University have identified a gene which leads to age-related hearing loss in mice. The gene was mapped used traditional genetic crosses and newer DNA micro-satellite markers. The work appears in the current issue of Hearing Research. The ultimate goal is to gain a better understanding of age-related hearing loss in humans.

Why Is Antarctica So Cold? Scientists Pursue History Of Antarctic Ice Sheet
Departing Punta Arenas, Chile, in mid-February, 26 scientists representing 10 countries will sail aboard the ocean drilling ship JOIDES Resolution to collect core samples from the continental rise and shelf of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Depression Less Frequent In Stroke Survivors Involved In Rehabilitation Programs With Social Support
Stroke rehabilitation programs that include a heavy emphasis on support and social activities may lead to less depression in people who have a brain attack, according to a study in this month's Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Towards A Local Stimulation Of Natural Bypass Growth - Max Planck Scientists Developed New Treatment For Ischemic Heart Disease
As reported in the February edition of Nature Biotechnology, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Physiological and Clinical Research, Bad Nauheim/Germany, have developed a non- invasive method to supply the diseased heart with vessel growth promoting factors using the property of microscopic beads to lodge in the peripheral vasculature.

Williams Biology Prof. Receives NSF Grant For Work On dUTPase
The National Science Foundation has awarded a grant of $266,191 to nancy Roseman, assistant professor of biology, for her work on deoxyuridine triphosphatase (dUTPase), an enzyme involved in DNA metabolism.

Childhood Asthma Hospitalization Trends Can Provide Clues To Improving Care
Low asthma hospitalization rates for children in Northern New England may offer some lessons for managing asthma that can benefit young patients nationwide, Dartmouth Medical School study finds.

Scientists Seek First Glimpse Of Solar Features During February 26 Solar Eclipse
Scientists from several research institutes will aim new detectors at the sun's corona during the February 26 solar eclipse, searching for structures they've never before observed. The researchers are funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and are from several research institutes, including the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. The scientists will use NSF's C-130 Hercules aircraft to conduct many of their studies.

The Role Of Models: From Anthropology To Particle Physics
Aristotle is a good example of how physicists use models to learn how the world works. His mistake was in accepting the model as truth without comparing it to events in the real world. Our job as scientists is to test many models to see which model nature selected in real life.

Testing Sought For Brighteners, Natural Substance In Spices, Cosmetic Chemical, Three Herbs, A Natural Oil And A Fertilizer
A federal interagency committee has recommended that the National Toxicology program review and possibly test two fiber brighteners, an intermediate chemical in manufacturing, some cosmetics, a natural oil used as a food additive, an ingredient in some spices, three herbs -- comfrey, goldenseal and saw palmetto -- and a fertilizer, for their potential to cause cancer or reproductive and developmental problems.

Magnetically-Actuated Microrelay Works At Low Voltages; Switches Large Currents
A new type of magnetically-actuated microrelay that can be batched-produced using established micromachining techniques could have applications in automobile electronics, test equipment and other areas where low actuation voltages are required.

Yale Scientist Invents Cosmetic Melanin, Liquid Melanin Moves Closer To Marketplace
A collegial conversation over a research laboratory bench, the image of a natural-looking tan, some transformational chemistry, and a commitment to protect people from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays have proven to be a winning combination for a Yale University School of Medicine scientist.

Trees, Grass Foster Children's Play And Encourage Adults To Supervise
Trees and grass do more than make a person feel closer to nature. In the midst of a public housing complex in inner- city Chicago, such greenery supports children's play, particularly creative forms of play, and encourages the presence of adult supervision.

Extensive Phase II Data Of Amprenavir (141W94/VX-478) To Be Presented
Extensive data on Vertex┬╣s amprenavir (141W94; VX-478), a second generation HIV protease inhibitor, will be presented at the 5th Annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Chicago, (February 1-5, 1998). Twelve abstracts, most of which describe new data from ongoing Phase II trials, have been accepted for presentation.

One Third Of Schoolchildren With Asthma Are Undiagnosed
One third of young people with asthma are not diagnosed. Undiagnosed asthma, particularly prevalent in girls, is associated with factors such as, low physical activity, high body mass index, serious family problems and passive smoking. As two thirds of those with undiagnosed asthma do not report their symptoms to a doctor, there may be a need for targeted asthma campaigns.

Osteoporosis And Oral Health Closely Linked, UB Analysis Of National Database Shows
Women with osteoporosis are at high risk of developing gum disease and losing their teeth, according to the first large- scale assessment of the relationship between bone metabolism and oral health, conducted by researchers at the University at Buffalo. The results are based on data from 2,599 postmenopausal women who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III.

DNA Used To Create Self Assembling Conducting Wire: Breakthrough Will Lead To Next Leap In Emerging Nanoelectronics
Using strands of DNA and silver particles, researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have created a conductive wire 1,000 times thinner than a human hair. The wire is able to store information, and could in the future be used to make computer chips measured in nanometers or a billionth of a meter. The research is reported in the February 19

Blacks More Often Than Whites Killed On Job, N.C. Study Finds
Black workers in North Carolina still are 50 percent more likely than white workers to die from injuries suffered on the job, according to a new study.

Spatial Short-Term Memory Pinpointed In Human Brain
NIMH scientists have found the part of the human brain that holds information momentarily about where things are located. This specialized circuitry for spatial working memory -- which eluded neuroscientists for most of the past decade -- keeps track of, for example, the ever-changing locations of other cars while driving.

Collection Of Damaged Goods Aids In Aircraft Research
A cracked fencing foil. A fractured garlic press. A broken diaper pin. Those damaged objects and others are part of a burgeoning collection that testifies to a Purdue University professor's scholarly passion: material corrosion, fatigue and cracking.

"BAT"Mobile Attempts To Speed Response Time To Stroke Patients
By using high-tech telecommunications equipment, researchers hope to reduce the time it takes to determine whether an individual having a stroke can be safely given the potentially life saving clot-busting treatment.

Race And Human Evolution
Two anthropologists talk about both the fossil record and genetic data that supports a multi-regional theory of human evolution. They will also discuss how the continuing debate over human origins and different races has profound social and political implications.

Genetics Of Obesity And Of The Response To Chronic Overfeeding
There are considerable individual differences in the response to chronic overfeeding for body mass, body composition and a variety of metabolic phenotypes. We have used an experimental model based on identical twins subjected to treatments lasting for weeks or months to try to identify whether the genes were involved in the heterogeneity in responsiveness.

Duke Mathematician To Describe Hopes For String Theory
Duke University mathematician David Morrison says he is applying his expertise in algebraic geometry to the exotic field of string theory in a quest for simplicity. 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