Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (February 2001)

Science news and science current events archive February, 2001.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from February 2001

Fatty plaque more likely to cause a heart attack than calcified plaque
In the first study of its kind, researchers found that lipid deposits within artery plaques have more structural stress - and are more likely to rupture - than plaques containing calcium, according to a report in today's Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Research determines how plants tell which way is up
After being knocked over by wind or hail, many plants quickly grow upward again. Scientists at NC State University and the University of Michigan have discovered that oats and maize use a chemical, also present in the human brain, to

New information for managing invasive species and marine reserves at the start of the 'International Biodiversity Observation Year'
At the 2001 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, biologists leading the International Biodiversity Observation Year (IBOY) will present information that can directly inform policy to support management of invasive species and marine reserves. Communication of scientific information on biodiversity is a key element of the IBOY.

Exploring the Universe: Smithsonian exhibit gets NSF funds
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has pledged $1.35 million over three years for the Smithsonian Institution's new permanent exhibit,

Stroke rates vary sharply by race, region
Southern black men appear to have the highest risk of stroke, according to studies presented today at the American Stroke Association's 26th International Stroke Conference. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association.

Cutting-edge research on nicotine and mind alertness, topical migraine treatment, nursing home under treatment, and more to be presented at conference
Cutting-edge research on nicotine and mind alertness, topical migraine treatment, nursing home under treatment, aids therapies, and international drugs registry to be presented at pharmacology conference.

European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology international conference
Over 4,000 international fertility experts meet in Lausanne, Switzerland, 1-4 July 2001 to present the latest research findngs in reproductive medicine and debate the scientific, clinical and ethical issues.

Smokers with psychiatric illnesses need more cessation counseling
Physicians infrequently counsel smokers with psychiatric illnesses to quit, suggest the results of a study.

Medicare-paid help
Unmarried people age 70 and older who lived with their adult children received about 40 hours a week of paid home care compared with 26 hours received by unmarried elders who were equally disabled and lived alone.

Method found to 'purify' partially entangled states
Entanglement, the bizarre quantum mechanical connection that can exist between particles, is an essential component in many quantum information processing applications. But the connection between the particles can become

Brain reprograms itself after stroke--Functional MRI reveals brain's innate plasticity and charts a direction for rehabilitation
Functional imaging of the brain demonstrates that this highly complex organ adapts to injury by redistributing its cognitive workload across established neural networks and recruiting local cortical areas to fill in for lost functions like speech and language comprehension.

'Family friendly' employment policies benefit the middle classes more than low-paid parents
The growth of working parenthood, as encouraged by the government's welfare-to-work and 'family friendly' employment policies, will be experienced very differently by secure middle class families than by poor parents in low-paid jobs. This is the conclusion of research by Professor Hartley, Dean of the University of Luton.

Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, February 2001
Health-Obesity gene discovered.
Exploration-Real-world survivors.
Military-Not your father's tank.
Energy-Power to the people.


Baylor College of Medicine garners research grants to sequence rat genome
Baylor College of Medicine announced two significant research grants that will support the Human Genome Sequencing Center's effort to determine the DNA sequence of laboratory rats. Baylor takes the lead on the NIH project announced today and is the only medical school involved in the rat-sequencing project.

AAAS atlas shows human impact on environment
The AAAS announced today the publication of an atlas that graphically illustrates the link between population and the environment.

Volcano helps meteorologists find answer to climate change mystery
With some help from the massive eruption of a Philippine volcano, scientists from North Carolina State University and the National Climate Center of China believe they have solved a climate change mystery.

Biblical hero Samson may have been sociopath as well as strongman, according to new research
Samson, the Israelite hero and judge who was undone by the temptress Delilah, exhibited almost all of the symptoms of a person with Antisocial Personality Disorder, known in the psychology trade as ASPD.

Videx EC ® (Didanosine) demonstrates improved safety, tolerability and comparable efficacy in 48 week study
Results from a 48-week study demonstrate that VIDEX EC (didanosine) capsules had similar efficacy and virologic response compared to VIDEX tablets.

500-century record links northern hemisphere cold spells to water in South American salt flat
A drill core record from what is now the world's largest salt flat, located at about 12,000 feet above sea level on a Bolivian plateau called the Altiplano, shows that this basin episodically filled with water during periods in the past 50,000 years when ocean temperatures to the north were unusually cold.

Landmark bipolar disorder study seeks to raise standard of care
The National Institute of Mental Health has launched a nationwide study to improve the treatment of bipolar disorder. The $22 million study - the largest of its kind, recruiting 5,000 participants at 18 centers across the country - will look for the most effective treatments in order to raise the standard of care for individuals with the disorder.

What is the right age to start mammogram screening?
Screening mammography has been shown to reduce breast cancer mortality among women aged 50-69 years. However, its appropriateness for younger women at average risk of breast cancer remains controversial.

Up in flames: Patented technology makes valuable nanoparicles
A researcher at Washington University in St. Louis has developed a patented technology that makes nanoparticles smaller, faster, cleaner, and cheaper than existing commercial processes. Richard L. Axelbaum, Ph.D., Washington University professor of mechanical engineering, is the first person to patent a flame technique that makes materials in the nanoparticle range. The technology is licensed to AP Materials, Inc., St. Louis.

Scientist uses artificial language to study language learning
New evidence shows that babies learning to understand language rely more heavily than previously thought on patterns in the language they hear around them. This runs counter to a recent research trend focusing on hard-wired instructions in the brain.

Research network brings wireless Internet to Native American reservations
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) are using the latest solar-powered wireless technology to help a pair of Native American tribes bridge the digital divide. The High Performance Research and Education Network (HPWREN) is overcoming geographical, social and technical barriers to bring high-speed Internet access to the La Jolla and Pala tribes.

Medical schools must not accept dishonest behaviour among students
Academic misconduct does exist amongst medical students and needs to be taken seriously by medical schools, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

Scientists investigate "nanowires" with very low resistance
In the world of electronic circuits, smaller is better: Small circuits, such as those used in computers, run faster and process more data. One key to developing smaller circuits is making tiny wires. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stanford University think they've developed a good candidate, molecular wires millions of times smaller in diameter than a human hair.

Researchers isolate proteins that allow sperm to penetrate egg
A team of proteins vital to fertility because of their ability to send signals that allow sperm to pass through an egg membrane has been isolated by researchers at two universities.

Searching for a genetic needle in a genome haystack
  • There is no single gene that determines or protects from alcoholism.
  • Specific genes interact with one another to confer increased or decreased risk for alcoholism.
  • Genes also interact with the environment to influence an individual's susceptibility to alcohol.
  • The key to future research is understanding the interactions between genes and the environment.


Engineers form unique consortium for better undergraduate earthquake engineering
It doesn't take a catastrophe on the order of the Seattle or recent India earthquake for civil engineers to realize that earthquake-engineering studies need to be intensified. Washington University in St. Louis civil engineers have formed a unique consortium to indoctrinate young earthquake engineers nationwide in hands-on research early in their undergraduate careers.

Gaps found in mammography use
Analysis of data from the 1996/97 National Population Health Survey (Canada) by Dr. Colleen Maxwell and colleagues shows continued low use of mammography among certain sub-groups of women.

Storm surges increase with warming oceans
Ocean warming and thermal expansion will be the largest contributor to sea-level rise during the 21st century, says an Australian scientist.

Toward a better burger: "Where's the selenium?"
Agricultural researchers report that beef raised on the Northern Plains contains unusually high levels of selenium, an important cancer fighter. But they say it's too early to know whether any significant benefit to humans will result. Their finding is published in the February Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a monthly peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Specifying alcohol-related brain damage in young women
  • Women seem to have a heightened sensitivity to alcohol's toxic neurological effects.
  • Thinking and memory abilities may be markedly affected.
  • Researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to 'visualize' brain activity in young women.
  • Young, female alcoholics have significant aberrations in brain and cognitive function.


Researchers identify gene related to infant lung disease
A multi-center team of researchers has discovered a possible genetic cause of infant lung disease. They found that two patients who developed a potentially fatal form of lung disease within the first months of life both had a mutation of one of the genes responsible for producing pulmonary surfactant, a material in the lungs that keeps them inflated.

'Power Loss' addresses deregulation of the power industry
In the late 1990s, the formerly staid and monopolistic electric utility industry entered an era of freewheeling competition and deregulation, allowing American consumers to buy electricity from any company offering it. In this book, Richard Hirsh explains how and why this radical restructuring has occurred.

Dynamics of natural communities
Understanding the dynamics of natural communities in space and time has been, until recently, a relatively neglected issue in ecology. This symposium honors the scientific contributions of the late Gary Polis, former chair of the UC Davis Department of Environmental Science and Policy.

Jury still out on psychological intervention, immunity
While stress management and other existing therapies may be helpful to an individual's emotional state, it is premature to suppose that those therapies can also substantially alter a person's immune response, according to a new wide-ranging survey conducted by Carnegie Mellon Psychologist Sheldon Cohen and Washington University Psychologist Gregory Miller.

Mimicking biological systems, composite material heals itself
Inspired by biological systems in which damage triggers an autonomic healing response, researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a synthetic material that can heal itself when cracked or broken.

Calcium scan predicts heart attack risk in physically fit people
An electron beam computed tomography (EBCT) scan was able to identify individuals at elevated risk for a heart attack who did not fit the usual high-risk profile, according to a study presented today at the American Heart Association's 41st Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.

Picky molecular traps snare problem chemicals from proces streams, effluents
The new microporous materials, named Sandia Octahedral Molecular Sieves (SOMS), could be useful in microelectronics fabrication and other industries where purification of, or extraction from, liquid process or waste streams is a significant or costly problem; It could also help capture for reuse a variety of valuable materials from industrial effluents.

UW study offers a method to keep physicians up-to-date
Technology may hold the key to helping medical professionals stay on top of the rapidly growing literature in the health- care field - and thus provide better care for their patients. A study found that the best way to improve physician behavior was a pop-up computer screen that provided information when the provider began writing a presccription.

FDA approves U.S. clinical trials for Penn State/Arrow heart assist device
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first series of U.S. clinical trials for a new kind of heart assist device, called the Arrow LionHeart, developed by Penn State researchers in conjunction with Arrow International, Inc. of Reading, Pa.

New AAAS project links judges to experts in science and engineering
Judges who would like to understand the scientific concepts in a complicated case now will have a place to turn to for expertise.

Scientists map biological changes in Earth's tropical forests
International tropical forest researchers at the Centre for Tropical Forest Sciences (CTFS) including Sean Thomas, forestry professor at the University of Toronto, have established a world network of tropical forest plots to map changes in the biology of one-tenth of the Earth's rainforest tree species - one centimetre at a time.

Maryland crab shell team wins top engineering award
An innovative team of researchers, government officials and entrepreneurs created markets for tons of Maryland crab shell waste, a potential Chesapeake Bay pollutant.

Wanted: 'Civic scientists' to inform the public, press and policy makers
Scientific illiteracy is a big problem in this country, and scientists have to do something about it, said two Stanford faculty members who were part of a Feb. 16 panel called ``Cultivating the Civic Scientist`` at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Liver disease may be being missed in primary care
Treatable chronic liver disease may be being missed in primary care because abnormal test results for liver function are often not adequately investigated, according to a study in this week's BMJ.

UT Southwestern researchers reaffirm use of Apgar as accurate predictor of newborns' early survival rate
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have reaffirmed the value of the nearly 50-year-old Apgar score as a quick and easy predictor of 28-day neonatal survival.

Genetic engineering speeds development of new antibiotics
By hijacking the biosynthetic machinery of bacteria, scientists can create antibiotics. Genetic engineers at Stanford have inserted the largest working genes to date into the Escherichia coli bacterium, transforming this run-of-the- mill microbe into an organism that can churn out new precursors of erythromycin.

Could nurse-led care help to unblock NHS beds?
Transferring patients to a low technology unit, where nurses rather than doctors manage recuperation after acute illness, is a safe alternative to conventional care on a general medical ward, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

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