Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (February 2000)

Science news and science current events archive February, 2000.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from February 2000

Gravity research smooths car rides, creates jobs
Today's cars ride so smoothly that if you feel vibration you know something's amiss. That's because of extensive technology that automobile manufacturers use to cushion every pothole drivers are apt to encounter. Future rides should be even smoother, thanks to the contributions of Mark Bocko, an electrical engineer at the University of Rochester.

Seattle researchers need your help in searching for the genes linked to inherited prostate cancer
Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington are conducting a search, involving hundreds of families nationwide, to find the genes responsible for inherited prostate cancer. However, of the nearly 300 families that have participated to date, only a handful have been African American. At least 100 such families are needed to participate in this ongoing study.

Family connections feed eating disorders research
For the millions of Americans who experience eating disorders, new research published in the March 2000 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry provides increased understanding of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, and offers a greater awareness of the family and hereditary links of the disorders.

Bees wearing reflectors help scientists track insects' training flights
Like aviators in training, honey bees preparing to forage learn their skills in a series of pre-flights to learn the landscape before undertaking new missions, say Illinois and UK scientists who used harmonic radar to track bees wearing ultra-light reflectors.

NHLBI funds asthma coalitions to improve care among high risk populations
Asthma coalitions in seven communities with exceptionally high asthma death rates have been awarded contracts by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to develop innovative, model programs to eliminate disparities in asthma morbidity and mortality in their communities, especially among children, minorities, and low-income individuals.

Study shows cholesterol-lowering medications are greatly underused, especially in women
Despite evidence that cholesterol-lowering medications can reduce the risk of heart attacks and death in people with coronary artery disease, many physicians at major teaching hospitals in the U.S. and Canada still do not prescribe them, according to a new study. The study, published in the February 14 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, also shows that significantly fewer women than men with heart disease are receiving any medication at all.

Increased risk factors for diabetes and heart disease in African-American children
Note: The embargo time of this release has been changed from 1 March 2000 at 08:00 ET US to 28 February 2000 at 13:00 ET US
African-Americans are about twice as likely to have diabetes or to die of stroke than are whites. Lindquist et al., in a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, have examined risk factors for diabetes and vascular disease that appear in childhood.

Teen at Cedars-Sinai is first in California to have 'bad' cholesterol removed from blood through LDL apheresis
A teen-ager at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center recently became the first in California to have their

AIDS researchers get $10 million to continue studies
A $10 million, five-year National Institutes of Health grant will help Case Western Reserve University's School of Medicine and University Hospitals of Cleveland continue 13- year-old AIDS research. The funding will enable Cleveland- area residents to participate in studies that offer free HIV testing and newly developed drugs for treating the disease.

Physics of baseball
With the crack of a bat, the ball disappears in a blur over the third-baseman's head. Beyond the obvious drama of a home run, there is a world of physics -- titanic forces -- surrounding the collision of a smooth, rounded stick and a small sphere of tightly wrapped yarn. Those forces and effects were the subject for a baseball enthusiast who also is a University of Illinois experimental nuclear physicist.

From the days of the 'Wild West' to world renown: Medical historian describes the U-M Medical School's first 150 years
Today's renowned University of Michigan Medical School seems a long way off from the place one early medical student excitedly wrote his mother about - saying a classmate had gone 'out west' and brought back dead gunmen for dissection. A U-M historian has gathered such tales for the school's 150th anniversary.

Toxicologists discover traces of diesel exhaust in the body
Dutch toxicologists have discovered substances in the bodies caused by diesel exhaust which can act as bio-markers. Such markers are necessary to determine health risks in the workplace. Until now, the risk of lung cancer from inhaling diesel particles has been assessed on the basis of lung cancer in related occupational groups.

Psychological test of unconscious candidate preference shows surprising results
A new website that measures candidate preferences shows a lack of association between people's conscious and unconscious preference for presidential candidates. The University of Washington-Yale website shows test takers have a conscious preference for underdogs John McCain and Bill Bradley, but unconsciously lean toward Al Gore and George Bush.

Whiplash debilitating, yet often ignored, according to Journal of the American Chiropractic Association
Whiplash affects more than 3 million people each year, yet research into this condition is severely under-funded and little is done to prevent it, according to latest issue of the Journal of the American Chiropractic Association. This is beginning to change as whiplash enters a new phase of research and understanding, whiplash researchers point out in the February JACA.

Morphine makes it harder to fight off gut infections
Morphine may be the reason why intravenous drug users with AIDS seem to suffer severe bouts of Salmonella poisoning. Microbiologists from Philadelphia found that pain-deadening morphine can make it harder to fight off gut infections.

Common algae can be valuable source of hydrogen fuel
Algae can be tricked into producing large quantities of hydrogen gas for fuel, thanks to a new discovery by UC Berkeley and Colorado scientists. They found a molecular switch that turns off the cell's usual photosynthetic apparatus and directs it to use stored energy, making hydrogen as a byproduct.

The end for dreaded potato pests
Colorado beetles ruin millions of dollars' worth of potato crops every year. Using powerful aromas extracted from potato leaves, researchers in the US intend to lure the insects to their death.

UIC bioengineering department lands Whitaker grant
The University of Illinois at Chicago's department of bioengineering recently received a three-year $990,000 grant from the Whitaker Foundation to investigate how living tissue interacts with bioengineered materials.

NASA's 7th annual 'Great Moonbuggy Race' on track for April 7-8
More than 40 teams, representing colleges and high schools from across the country and Puerto Rico, will roll into Huntsville, Ala., April 7-8 for the 7th annual Great Moonbuggy Race. The event challenges students to design and build a human-powered vehicle to address engineering problems similar to those faced by the original designers of the lunar roving vehicle in the Apollo era.

Seal sensors
Seals and yachts could help oceanographers reveal data from the depths of remote ocean areas where existing data is scarce. By attaching electronic probes to the animals and boats, researchers in California hope to monitor everything from temperature to phytoplankton levels.

UW's new Cell Systems Initiative welcomes Immunex collaboration
The UW School of Medicine's Cell Systems Initiative will study the information systems that operate within cells and organisms. Immunex will be one of the private collaborators. CSI scientists will study cancer and immune system disorders at the molecular level in this blending of computer science and biology.

Children Act 'charter for abuse'
The Children Act is failing to protect children from severe abuse and neglect, concludes a stringent critique in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. Dubbed a

Father's weight predicts daughter's weight gain in girls
Note: The embargo time of this release has been changed from 1 March 2000 at 08:00 ET US to 28 February 2000 at 13:00 ET US
In a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Figueroa-Colon and colleagues found that the fathers' percent body fat predicted the pattern of weight gain in their daughters.

Iron-binding compounds produced by marine bacteria have important implications for marine microbial ecology
Structures of newly-discovered siderophores (iron-carrying molecules secreted by bacteria to facilitate iron acquisition) described in the February 18 issue of Science by researchers at UC, Santa Barbara and other institutions, shed light on how marine bacteria acquire iron and raise provocative questions about the evolution of iron uptake by marine bacteria.

Childless couples under 50 who work for the same employer are more stressed
Childless couples who work for the same employer tend to experience lower life quality and have less egalitarian marriages than coworking couples with children and childless couples who work at different places, reported Phyllis Moen, a Cornell University sociologist on Feb. 18, 2000 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Washington, D.C .

Grant to advance case-study approach to teaching science
A University at Buffalo professor who says his mission in life is to revolutionize the teaching of science has received an $800,000 grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts to do just that.

Scientists: bomb survivor studies outdated as basis for radiation protection standards
Scientists who help set standards for radiation safety rely too much on studies of A-bomb survivors, according to radiation researchers who analyzed the relative strengths of data from two exposed populations: A-bomb survivors and nuclear plant workers.

Surviving jaws: virual merman 'thinks' his way to safety
Computer scientists at the University of Toronto have pushed the notion of artificial intelligence and virtual life to a new level -- they've created characters that are self- animating with functional bodies and brains that have behaviour, perception, learning and cognition centres.

Rush neurologists to test new drug for rare neuromuscular disorder
Individuals with myasthenia gravis are being sought for participation in a clinical trial that will determine if a new treatment is effective in reducing muscle fatigue and weakness. The pilot study is being conducted by neurologists from Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago.

Patients' beliefs and behaviors about health lifestyle and medications may help tailor high blood pressure management method
People with high blood pressure may benefit from different management techniques based on their health lifestyle beliefs and behaviors, according to an article appearing in the February 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, a member of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) family of journals.

Pure-blood microchips
A tiny drop of your blood has enough DNA to diagnose or incriminate you - little wonder you demand a contamination- free analysis. As reported this month in Genome Research, Larry Kricka and colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania have constructed a microchip machine to take blood straight from collection to DNA analysis, without separate steps that could deplete or contaminate samples.

Pumping iron improves heart health and may help tighten waistline
Weight training can be good for your heart health, according to a new Scientific Advisory being published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Scientists consider ways of preventing, curbing worldwide tobacco toll
The Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco meeting will gather the world's leading scientists from over 25 countries. Among the over 120 presentations will be presentations on a nicotine vaccine, rapidity of development of nicotine dependence in teenagers and how depression and delinquency are associated with smoking in teenagers.

Droughts worse than the 1930's likely in the 21st century
Dramatic research by two Queen's University biologists and a scientist from the University of Ghent suggests that the world's supply of fresh water could plummet causing drought- induced famine, political unrest and large-scale migration worldwide.

Professor says college athletic departments must pay more attention to eating disorders
U.S. colleges and universities leave themselves open to lawsuits by not paying enough attention to athletes with eating disorders, especially young women, according to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill legal expert.

Study suggests tailoring ADHD treatment
A new study on treatment methods for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) indicates that

NEAR poised for historic asteroid rendezvous
The NEAR spacecraft is approaching its attempt to become the first space probe to orbit an asteroid. The Valentine's Day target: asteroid Eros.

Free stroke screenings may pay off by revealing hidden risk
You may want to stop the next time you see a stroke screening at a health fair or your local mall -- especially if you smoke, are over 65 years old, or have heart disease or elevated levels of cholesterol, according a new study.

Study examines physician overconfidence in making diagnoses
Physicians hired as expert witnesses in medical malpractice lawsuits have an advantage over the physician on trial: When asked how they would have diagnosed a patient's symptoms, they already know the answer. They are confident they would have made the correct medical conclusion, offering convincing testimony for the prosecution. But is it accurate testimony?

Northwestern researcher spearheads $5 million study to detect early-stage ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer is called the

NIH awards $28 million grant to CWRU's Tuberculosis Research Unit
The Tuberculosis Research Unit at CWRU's School of Medicine has received a $28 million contract from the National Institutes of Health. The grant will support work with seven basic science sites and three clinical sites around the world. CWRU has been a leader in TB studies for 35 years.

LSU to hold National Science Foundation conference
Twenty National Science Foundation program directors and staff members will be on hand when Louisiana State University hosts a regional NSF grant-development conference March 20-22 in Baton Rouge. The conference will coach faculty researchers on grant-writing techniques, cross-disciplinary programs and new policies and opportunities at the NSF.

Could fish clean up sewage works?
African fish could be a cheap way to clean up the water from sewage plants. Few sewage works remove phosphorus and nitrogen from the water which trigger devastating blooms of algae. A waste-water purification system developed in America could remove these nutrients by letting fish graze on the algae.

Rotational motion detected in gates controlling nerve impulses
Scientists who performed the first direct measurement of voltage-induced distance changes in ion channels -- critical components of the nervous system -- have reached a surprising conclusion. The amino acids in the voltage sensor, they report, move like keys turning in locks, not like the simple plungers that were predicted by current models.

UI study finds older medication can more effectively treat post-stroke depression
Newer is generally thought of as better. However, that may not be the case for antidepressive medication to treat post- stroke depression. The disorder affects nearly 40 percent of the 400,000 individuals in the United States who annually survive strokes.

Anemia in Cree infants
Authors of a study of 9-month-old Cree infants living in northern Quebec report that one-third of these children were anemic and that this was more of a problem among breast-fed babies than formula-fed infants

Risk of lung cancer from passive smoking may have been overstated
Previous studies examining the effect of passive smoking on lung cancer, may have overstated the risk, say statisticians from the University of Warwick in this week's BMJ.

Keck Graduate Institute and the Sloan Foundation to preserve a workshop on new graduate degree programs at AAAS Meeting
Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences (KGI), announced today that Stephen McCormack, Director of Science and Technology Development, will present a workshop on new opportunities for science and math majors with Sheila Tobias, Outreach Coordinator for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, on Monday, February 21st at 9 a.m. at the 2000 (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

International trade imperils U.S. plants, animals and crops
Booming international trade poses a serious threat to native plants and animals and to productive croplands, says an ecologist from UC Berkeley. Some 1,500 insects and 50 pathogens are predicted to invade the U.S. in the next 20 years, increasing the nation's yearly losses to $200 billion.

Smile! Study shows girls do it more than boys in yearbook photos
A researcher at Washington University in St. Louis has used thousands of yearbook photographs to pinpoint a milestone in adolescent development -- the age when girls begin smiling more often than boys. 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