Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (February 1999)

Science news and science current events archive February, 1999.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from February 1999

Major $17 Million Grant To Fund Ocean Research
Researchers at Oregon State University and three other leading marine science universities in Oregon and California have received a five-year, $17.7 million grant to conduct ecological research aimed at improving the conservation of marine organisms.

A New Encyclopedia Of Mouse Genes
In the genome-conscious world of modern molecular biology, the mouse is getting a boost with the release of an encyclopedia containing more than 360,000 genetic sequences. Already, researchers have used these sequences to identify new genes, including some suspected of playing roles in a variety of human diseases.

Chelation Therapy May Alter Immune System
A commonly used drug for reducing toxicological effects of lead poisoning, DMSA, may alter the immune system, a Cornell University study of pregnant rats and their offspring has found.

Duke Scientists Engineer 'Stealth Virus' To Deliver Genes
Duke University Medical Center researchers report that they have modified a common virus so that it can carry corrective genes to defective cells without stimulating an immune response.

Researchers Find How Two Cancer Genes Interact To Cause Malignancy
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have discovered how two cancer-causing genes can interact to transform normal cells into cancerous cells, adding further insight into the long-held theory that cancers require mutations in multiple genes.

Unveiling The Milky Way
Researchers have produced the largest, highest-resolution radio image ever of the Milky Way's center.

A New Kind Of Sign Language Could Liberate Us From Our Desks
There are a number of wearable computers designed for use on the move, but no easy way of getting data into them. Now a researcher from California has developed a new one-handed sign language which enables the user to write documents and emails while walking along the street.

Inner-City HIV Patients Fail To Take Advantage Of Available Therapies
Despite the increasing availability of combination drug therapy proven to be highly effective at controlling the HIV virus, most inner-city HIV patients who are sick enough to require hospitalization choose not to receive outpatient care, according to a study by Emory University infectious disease specialists.

Penn State Engineers Develop New Simulation For Ultrafine Particle Growth Process
Penn State engineers have developed a new simpler computer simulation for ultrafine particle size growth and distribution that is potentially applicable to processes ranging from powdered milk production to ceramic membrane development to air pollution control.

People Power Over Nuclear Issues
The opinions and emotions of local residents are being distorted by political rhetoric and grossly underestimated by the nuclear industry, according to Professor Lynda Warren, writing in the journal Interdisciplinary Science Reviews. By not including local residents at a fundamental planning level and with a lack of committed involvement from politicians, companies such as Nirex will continue to experience a lack of support for their activities, she says.

Use Of Protease Inhibitors For HIV Associated With Dramatic Rise In Oral Warts
While the main oral infections associated with HIV infection and AIDS have been brought under control, the use of powerful new protease inhibitors to treat HIV has led to a dramatic, unexplained increase in oral warts among patients, a new study reveals.

The Side Effects Of Dental Amalgam May Be All In The Mind
Health campaigners have for years blamed amalgam fillings, containing mercury, for a host of neurological disorders including Alzheimer's disease. Now a new German study suggests that many people who complain about the side effects of amalgam fillings are unwittingly using it as a scapegoat for disorders that have other causes.

Bone Marrow Transplants May Be Improved Thanks To Discovery Of Mechanism Underlying Human Stem Cell Migration
Weizmann Institute has discovered a key mechanism of stem cell migration that may lead to significantly improved bone marrow transplants, as reported in the February 5 issue of Science.

Scanner Could Diagnose "Lazy Eye" In Infants
Biomedical engineer David Hunter has developed an optical scanner that measures the eyes' point of fixation in a new way. Doctors could use it to diagnose eye diseases in infants and young children. Disabled people could use it to communicate or operate appliances from anywhere in a room.

Substance Abuse May Curb Body's Stress Reactions
Teenage substance abusers display a pattern of heart rate and other physiological changes in response to loud noise, offering clues to how and why some young people develop substance use disorders. Those teenagers may use alcohol, tobacco, or other substances, in part, to blunt their bodies' reactions to stress.

President Asks Almost $4 Billion For NSF's Fiscal Year 2000 Budget
The National Science Foundation (NSF) today outlined a record budget request for fiscal year 2000 amounting to nearly $4 billion. The request includes a major focus on funding for bold, cutting-edge research efforts, both as the lead agency in the Administration's Information Technology for the Twenty-first Century (IT2) initiative, and for exploring the role of biocomplexity in the environment (BE).

Older Population, Increasing Retirement Age May Add To Challenge Of Working After Having A Stroke
As more people continue to work after the age of 65 and the older population in the U.S. -- those most susceptible to strokes -- also grows, a new economic dilemma is created: Can people work after having a stroke and what factors limit a stroke survivors ability to return to work?

IBS Is Ten Times More Likely After Gastroenteritis
In the year after a bout of bacterial gastroenteritis, patients are ten times more likely to have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) than the general population, says a study in this week's BMJ.

A Smart Tyre For Motorists
A smart tyre that tells drivers when it needs replacing or inflating has been developed by engineers in the US. Tiny temperature and pressure sensors are incorporated into the wall of the tyre, while radio signals sent out by a transmitter beam back the tyre's vital statistics.

Emu Meat Not A Popular Choice Among Consumers, Study Shows
Emu, a flightless bird native to Australia, is a healthy alternative to other red meats, dietitians say. But a survey of consumers by an Ohio University researcher suggests that Americans prefer beef over the unfamiliar taste of emu.

Comets, Like Cars, Leave Carbon Monoxide In Their Wake
Hitching a ride on a comet may be like latching onto a bus's tailpipe. A recent Arizona State University study, published in the February 10 issue of The Astrophysical Journal, found that comet gas tails, previously thought to be mostly water, actually contain high concentrations of ionized carbon monoxide .

Promising Bone Cancer Therapy Advances To Next Level
A promising non-sedating therapy for bone cancer pain has proved effective for 75 percent of patients in preliminary clinical trials, and is now being tested nationwide in a larger trial. Developed at Brookhaven National Laboratory, the therapy may also be useful in treating rheumatoid arthritis.

Improving Traffic Safety From The Local/Short-Haul Trucker's Perspective
Local/short-haul truck drivers identify a number of safety issues in their work, including lack of education among the driving public about how to interact with trucks, stress caused by time pressure making deliveries, inattention caused by scheduling demands, and poor roadway and dock designs. Fatigue was seen as a safety issue of moderate importance.

Robocasting: Sandia Develops New Way To Fabricate Ceramics
An engineer at Sandia National Laboratories has developed a new way to fabricate ceramics that requires no molds or machining. Called robocasting, it relies on robotics for computer-controlled deposition of ceramic slurries -- mixtures of ceramic powder, water, and trace amounts of chemical modifers -- through a syringe.

Age, Neurological Symptoms Linked To Injuries In Farmers
New research suggests that certain factors -- such as age and neurological symptoms -- play a significant role in the risk of injuries to farmers. Researchers found a higher risk of injury among farmers younger than 30 and those who reported symptoms associated with neurotoxicity, such as difficulty concentrating.

Researchers Making Methane More Marketable
Researchers at Michigan Tech are hoping a new process they developed for creating liquid methanol from methane will open the door for greater commercial use of this plentiful gas.

Coastal Birds "Feel" Their Prey Under The Sand
Knots (a kind of sandpiper) can locate their favourite food - shellfish - under wet sand by inserting their back half a centimetre into the sand for a few seconds. Scientists at the NWO's Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) have carried out experiments to demonstrate this. The birds' ability to do so seems to be based on a hydro-dynamic principle.

Multicomponent Malaria Vaccine Shows Promise in Laboratory Tests
A team of researchers, including grantees of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, today reported positive results of research on a new, broad-based malaria vaccine. A paper describing their findings appears in the February 16 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.

There's A Mystery Object Not Far From The Earth
A Chunk of rock some 50 metres across has been found circling the Sun in an orbit close to Earth's. Astronomers say the object, which was discovered by an asteroid-hunting telescope in New Mexico, is probably a chip off the Moon.

Employed Moms Found Not To Have Negative Effect On Children
A mother's employment outside of the home has no significant negative effect on her children, according to new research reported in the March issue of Developmental Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

MIT Software Improves Accuracy Of Robot Used In Cancer Therapy
A robotic system that will maneuver patients into position for a beam of cancer-blasting particles is now about 15 times more accurate thanks to software developed by MIT engineers.

Transitional Care From Hospital To Home Improves The Health Of Elderly Medical And Surgical Patients
Older patients with common medical and surgical problems, who received transitional care--comprehensive discharge planning and follow-up in the home by advanced practice nurses, had significant reductions in readmissions and patient days in the hospital. A savings of $600,000 in health services costs was realized for these 177 patients.

An Expedition Of Genetic Proportions Leads Duke Researcher To A New Culprit In Lung Cancer Metastasis
Mapping the human genome isn't his job, but Dr. Gerold Bepler, a researcher at Duke University Medical Center, has tackled part of it anyway. He sought an unknown gene on human chromosome 11 that might be involved in lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women.

Mojave Desert Is Subject Of Las Vegas Science Meeting
A forum that brings together researchers and managers to examine the status of scientific knowledge about the Mojave Desert will be hosted by the U.S. Geological Survey at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Feb. 25-27.

NASA Is Spending Half A Million Dollars On Bizarre Antigravity Research
NASA has just awarded half a million dollars to a company to build an antigravity device that could enable rockets to launch into orbit with just a gentle push. NASA hopes to duplicate the controversial experiments of a Russian scientist who claims to have invented a device that blocks the force of gravity.

The Next Plastic
A new class of materials based on metal foams promises to be as revolutionary as plastic was in the 1970s

A Simple Jab Could Save Women From An Irritating Infection
Trials of the world's first vaccine against persistent bladder and urinary tract infections, including cystitis, are due to begin in humans at the end of the year. The vaccine, developed in the US, has already proved to be successful in protecting against such infections in monkeys.

AGU Book On Earth's Magnetotail Wins Award For Outstanding Professional And Scholarly Title In Physics And Astronomy
The Association of American Publishers has presented its award for best 1998 title in physics and astronomy to

Early Dental Exams For Children Can Avert Problems Posed By Bottled Water And "Bottle Caries"
Well-meaning parents who give their babies

Mama! Dada! Origin Of Language Pegged At 6 Months
New research, with

Synthetic Lock Binds Some Molecules, Excludes Others
Like locks accepting keys, proteins function by being able to let one particularly shaped molecule inside while barring others. The idea of molecular locks and keys goes back a hundred years, but now University of Illinois chemists report progress in making artificial receptors with high selectivity.

Far Few Drugs Are Tested On Children
The vast majority of drugs have never been tested on children, giving doctors the dangerous task of gambling on suitable doses. The situation is about to change in the US with a new act that will force drug companies to provide them with information on the paediatric use of medicines.

Reinventing Humans Is Focus Of Virginia Tech Program
(Blacksburg, VA) Can humans redesign themselves? Are there limits to what should be attempted? How do we decide? The Choices and Challenges Project will present a public forum on Reinventing the Human Thursday, March 25, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Virginia Tech. The program will offer social, political, economic, and ethical perspectives to help the community make decisions now that will affect life in the future.

Deaths of Zoo Elephants Explained -- New Virus Identified
Researchers at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., have discovered the cause of death of nearly a dozen young North American zoo elephants -- fatal hemorrhaging from a previously unknown form of herpesvirus that apparently jumped from African elephants to the Asian species.

New Studies Offer Clues To AIDS Vaccine Design And Safety
New studies by NIAID scientists and grantees help fill in pieces of the AIDS vaccine research puzzle. In three separate reports published in the February 1999 issue of the journal Nature Medicine, researchers report new insights about the kind of immune responses needed to protect against HIV infection.

An Ergonomically Redesigned Analgesia Delivery Device Proves Safer And More Efficient
A human factors approach to assessing and redesigning a complex medication delivery device results in increased safety, improved efficiency, and reduced workload among nurses.

A Disease Last Seen In The 1950's Has Struck Again
Minamata disease, a debilitating illness of the nervous system caused by mercury poisoning, has reared its ugly head again. Symptoms of the disease, first seen in the 1950's in Japan, are showing up in fishing villages of the Amazon rainforest. It is unclear whether it comes from gold mining or the leaching of mercury from soils following deforestation.

Montserrat's Ashy Eruptions May Pose Local Health Threat, As Reported In Science
UK researchers have determined that the volcanic ash blanketing the Caribbean island of Montserrat has a surprisingly high concentration of a mineral known as cristobalite that can cause the lung disease silicosis. Another team has determined that it may be possible to predict short-term activity of the volcano. Together, the two studies may help to reduce the risks associated with living close to an active volcano.

Most Who Lose Medicaid Have Trouble Finding Health Insurance
A study of Massachusetts residents who lost Medicaid-funded health coverage shows that most were unable subsequently to find sufficient health insurance for themselves and their children. Those who remained uninsured reported difficulty receiving needed services, even though most of them had access to a health care provider.

Nationwide Study Finds HIV-Positive Women Are At High Risk For Cervical Human Papillomavirus Infection
In the largest study of its kind, a national team led by a UC San Francisco scientist has found strong new evidence that HIV-positive women run a high risk of infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), a major cause of cervical cancer. 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