Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (February 2002)

Science news and science current events archive February, 2002.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from February 2002

Scientists look to Europe as evolutionary seat
University of Toronto anthropologist David Begun and his European colleagues are re-writing the book on the history of great apes and humans, arguing that most of their evolutionary development took place in Eurasia, not Africa.

Leptin replacement therapy reduces metabolic abnormalities in patients with rare fat disorders, researchers report
Leptin replacement therapy drastically reduces triglyceride levels and controls diabetes in patients with rare fat disorders known as lipodystrophies, according to researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Meeting ecological and societal needs for freshwater
Freshwater is vital to human life and societal well-being, but society has frequently not recognized the full value of healthy rivers, lakes, groundwater, and wetlands. There has been growing recognition that intact aquatic ecosystems provide many economically valuable services and long-term benefits to society, in addition to the provision of water. A new Ecological Society of America position paper explains the basis for sustaining freshwater ecosystems and details ways to reconcile ecosystem and human needs.

Chandra scores a double bonus with a distant quasar
Two discoveries from a distant quasar - an enormous X-ray jet and an X-ray shadow cast by an intervening galaxy - are giving astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory cause to be doubly excited. These two independent results reveal information about a supermassive black hole at the center of the quasar as well as the amount of oxygen in a distant galaxy billions of years ago.

Performance reviews not always accurate, professor says
Performance reviews - those often-dreaded work evaluations - are not very accurate, says a University of Toronto human resource management expert.

High turnover rate may undermine HIV/hemophilia care
The high turnover rate of health workers taking care of patients who have both HIV and hemophilia is due more to stress from coworkers than to the high emotional demands of such work, according to a new study. The study reveals that 35 percent of the staff left the field of hemophilia/HIV care within four years of entering the study, says researcher, Larry K. Brown, M.D., of Brown University Medical School.

Making seeds grow: Scientists find gene responsible for seed germination
In a powerful example of the utility of the Arabidopsis plant genome sequence, an international collaboration of researchers has discovered a key component in the regulation of seed sprouting. Published in Genes & Development, researchers have determined that the RGL2 protein acts as a molecular crossroad linking the GA-mediated signaling pathway and environmental moisture cues.

Ciliary proteins and polycystic kidneys
Polycystin 1 and 2 mutations represent the most common cause of dominantly inherited polycystic kidney disease. However, humans and mice are also subject to recessive disorders in which the kidneys, and sometimes the liver, pancreas, or ovaries, are subject to cyst formation. Analysis of these mutations has led to interest in role for apical cilia in the development of these tissues and in a seemingly unrelated matter, the genesis of a left-right axis during embryogenesis.

Why can't Johnny understand science, at AAAS session?
Why, asks Cornell University professor Bruce Lewenstein, do most people know so little about science? The question will be at a symposium,

Fogarty International Center announces new global health research initiative program for foreign investigators
The Fogarty International Center (FIC) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), together with eight NIH partners, announces a new Global Health Research Initiative Program (GRIP) for New Foreign Investigators to promote the productive re-entry of young NIH-trained foreign investigators from the developing world to their home countries. The current combined financial commitment from FIC and its partners is $1 million per year to support grants of $50,000 annually for up to five years.

Speeding product design
From turbine engines to toilet tissue, the time to market of manufactured products could be accelerated through improved high-tech design. To perfect the design process and decrease costs, Rensselaer researchers are working with Simmetrix Inc. of Clifton Park, N.Y., inventors of a virtual simulation model used extensively to automate the design of interior air handling systems in automobiles.

Tanning lamps may increase risks of skin cancers
Users of tanning lamps may have an increased incidence of skin cancers and younger users may be at greatest risk, report Dartmouth Medical School (DMS) researchers.

Tanning devices may contribute to incidence of common skin cancers
The use of artificial tanning devices such as tanning lamps and tanning beds may contribute to the incidence of two common types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, a new study suggests. The findings appear in the Feb. 6 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Duke researchers identify age at onset genes for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease
Duke University Medical Center researchers have identified a group of chromosomal regions that could be responsible for controlling the onset of Alzheimer's or Parkinson's diseases.

Moderate alcohol consumption reduces cardiovascular risk in postmenopausal women
In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Bauer et al. compared serum lipid concentrations in a group of postmenopausal women after they had consumed moderate amounts of alcohol over 8 weeks, concluding that alcohol decreases CVD risk in this group by improving the levels of several different blood lipids.

New book aims to keep elderly drivers on the road
A new book by a researcher at The Schepens Eye Research Institute aims to help people with impaired vision drive safely and as long as possible. The book,

Time draws near for minority students seeking financial assistance
The deadline of March 1, 2002 is fast approaching for submitting applications to the American Chemical Society's Scholars Program. The ACS Scholars Program, which received the 2001 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, supports academically accomplished African American, Hispanic and Native American students in their pursuit of undergraduate studies in chemistry, chemical engineering, biochemistry, environmental science, and related disciplines in two- and four-year college and university programs.

Smarr to speak at AAAS meeting
Larry Smarr, Director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, will deliver a Plenary Lecture to the AAAS Annual Meeting Feb. 16 on extending the Internet with sensornets to support science and emergency preparedness.

Social factors may affect survival in lung cancer patients
African Americans are more likely to develop and die from cancer than people of any other racial and ethnic group. A new study suggests that socioeconomic status and other social circumstances are likely to be responsible for decreased physical health at the time of diagnosis among African American patients with non-small-cell lung cancer.

BMJ journals now free for the 100 poorest countries
BMJ specialist journals, such as Gut, Heart and Thorax, are now free online to anybody in the 100 poorest countries of the world, which between them include most of the world's population.

Tokyo legal education symposium
The University of Michigan Law School and the Japan Federation of Bar Associations are conducting a joint symposium in Tokyo on Feb. 26 to assist Japan in its transition to a legal education system based on the model of U.S. law schools.

Breaking down the walls of immunological ignorance
T cells that respond to an antigen challenge in vitro but fail to do so in a living animal are said to be in a state of immunological ignorance. Chen and his colleagues have argued for some time that this poorly understood state can help explain the workings and, crucially, the failings of immunological surveillance for tumors.

Yale astronomer explores the final moments of merging black holes
A slow dance lasting up to10 million years between a super-massive black hole and a smaller one culminates in a violent outflow of energy, possibly powering the bright light known as a quasar, according to a calculation by a Yale astronomer and a collaborator.

Acoustics Writing Award: 2002 call for entries
The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) sponsors two annual awards for outstanding science writing. One award is for journalists and the other is for professionals . Deadline is April 15, 2002.

The path to a folded protein, long a subject of debate, appears in many cases to be long and winding
It's a long-simmering debate in physical chemistry: Does the folding of proteins into biologically active shapes better resemble a luge run - fast, linear and predictable - or the more freeform trajectories of a ski slope? New University of Pennsylvania research offers the strongest evidence yet that proteins shimmy into their characteristic shapes not via a single, unyielding route but by paths as individualistic as those of skiers coursing from a mountain summit down to the base lodge.

Restricting R-movies linked to decreased teen smoking, drinking
Researchers from the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Dartmouth Medical School and Dartmouth College have identified a new strategy for parents who don't want their children to smoke or drink: don't let them watch R-rated movies.

Physics tip sheet #2 - February 27, 2002
Highlights of this issue include reports on guiding atoms with hologram-generated light, fractal nanopore networks and the evolution of physics

Enormous iceberg may be in its death throes
For perhaps the last time, a researcher has visited iceberg B-15A, an enormous fragment of ice that broke away from Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf in March 2000.

'Night eating syndrome' may be related to the performance of the body -- not the mind
Study results published in the February 2002 edition of the American Journal of Physiology -- Endocrinology and Metabolism indicate that the midnight raid on the refrigerator may not be just appetite.

Hawaiian Ridge HOME to efforts to understand deep-ocean mixing
With waves - some 300 to 1,000 feet tall - traveling beneath the surface, internal tides at the Hawaiian Ridge and other such spots around the world may help scientists discover what causes 90 percent of the mixing in the world's ocean. University of Washington researchers have made the first-ever direct measurements of the energy flux of the

Agri-tech innovations promise better food security
With close to 800 million people suffering from hunger, most in the southern hemisphere, the developing world is embracing innovative agricultural techniques that promise increased food production while reducing environmental damage and achieving sustainability.

Compounds rejuvenate rats, may aid humans
Researchers in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University have identified a combination of dietary supplements that dramatically improves both the activity, energy level and cognitive function of aging rats. Small clinical trials are already underway with humans to determine whether these compounds offer the same benefits to people.

Pinatubo volcano research boosts case for human-caused global warming
Rutgers environmental scientist Alan Robock reports that research into the worldwide climatic impact of the 1991 Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruption during the 10 years since the eruption has strengthened the case for human causes of global warming.

Immerge biotherapeutics identifies miniature swine that do not transmit pig retrovirus to humans
Immerge BioTherapeutics announced today that they have identified miniature swine that failed to produce porcine endogenous retrovirus (PERV) that can infect human cells in-vitro. The potential for PERV to infect humans has been a key safety barrier to the potential use of pigs as organ sources for xenotransplantation. The study is published in the Journal of Virology.

New studies on Alzheimer's, depression unveiled at geriatric psychiatry conference
The nation's foremost experts in geriatric psychiatry are presenting new studies and the latest findings on Alzheimer's, depression other conditions associated with the elderly during the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry's 15th Annual Meeting Feb. 24-27 at the Renaissance Orlando Resort in Orlando, FL. The oldest and largest platform for the presentation of geriatric mental health research, the meeting features more than 40 sessions and some 120 scientific posters and papers scheduled for presentation.

Chemical evidence proves the old adage, 'Birds of a feather flock together'
A study published in the journal Science this week is giving new meaning to the expression,

Bodybuilders abusing prescription-only drugs bought on the Internet
Bodybuilders who abuse prescription-only drugs bought on the internet are risking their health, highlights a case report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The easy availability of these drugs from this source is a cause for concern, conclude the authors.

Public Science Day brings new experiences to thousands of Cambridge students
Each year since 1989, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has sponsored Public Science Day as a time of scientific exploration for children in the various locales where the organization holds its annual meetings. This annual event takes thousands of students on an educational journey to local museums and scientific institutions to participate in hands-on science activities to help foster a greater appreciation of the scientific processes at work in the world around them.

Clues from analysis of fish bones supports theory of climate shift 5000 years ago, onset of El Niño
New evidence from two Peruvian archeological sites excavated by researchers from the University of Maine (UMaine) and analyzed by University of Georgia (UGA) scientists supports the theory that a climate shift about 5,000 years ago led to modern weather patterns that include El Niño. The details are presented in an article in this week's edition of the journal Science.

New treatment options for children with ADHD
Many children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who have long been denied the medication most commonly used by doctors, methylphenidate (also known as Ritalin), can be treated effectively with it, according to a study by the Tourette's Syndrome Study Group. The group also has found that a combination of medicines works best for many children with ADHD.

The February issue of Materials Today looks at molecular electronics and asks questions
Recent progress in the field of molecular electronics has been the source of much excitement and speculation in the materials research world. The February issue of Materials Today presents three articles from researchers at the forefront of the field reviewing the present state of molecular electronics research and opportunities that are coming forth.

Spring break destination have different lures for males, females
There's more to spring break than sun, surf and sex. Male and female college students have significantly different hopes for both how they'll spend their spring breaks at vacation hot spots and what they'll get from hospitality service providers when they're there, a Penn State researcher says.

Argonne, NEC Research Institute and Bell Labs discover new antiferromagnet imaging technique
Researchers from Bell Labs, NEC Research Institute, Inc. and Argonne National Laboratory have created an image of antiferromagnetism within a solid material, using a new technique that could lead to more cost-efficient evolution of advanced magnetic recording materials and technologies. Complete results of the research are published today in Science magazine.

Researchers discover gene causing deadly infantile form of genetic kidney disease
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have identified and fully characterized the gene that causes autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD), raising hopes of a treatment and eventual cure for infants born with ARPKD. The Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) Foundation provided grants that led to the promising discovery of the PKHD1 gene, an effort aided by earlier work done at the Human Genome Project. The March 2002 issue of Nature Genetics will feature this breakthrough.

Nanotech development brings closer era of nanowire electronic devices, much smaller computer chips
Computer chips today are two-dimensional sandwiches -- one layer of material is annealed to another to create junctions and electronic devices. Scientists at UC Berkeley have now succeeded in mating different materials along a single wire, or nanowire, less than one-hundredth the width of a human hair. A single nanowire could be a complete device, incorporating transistor junctions, light-emitting diodes and even lasers. The development promises to shrink chips and computers significantly.

Chemists make first-ever compounds of noble gases and uranium
Ohio State University chemists and their colleagues at the University of Virginia have created the first-ever compounds of uranium bonded to atoms of three so-called

Misclassification of death may influence perceived value of cancer screening
A statistical analysis of past randomized trials of cancer screening tests suggests that misclassifications in the cause of death may have biased the trial results in favor of screening. The findings appear in the Feb. 6 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Johns Hopkins scientists find brain's nose plug
Scientists from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and elsewhere have found the brain's

Setting micro gears in motion
Umar Mohideen, associate professor of physics at the University of California, Riverside, has performed the first demonstration of the lateral Casimir force in his laboratory. His findings, to be published in Physical Review Letters, have vast implications for micromachines. The Casimir force is named after the Dutch physicist Hendrik Casimir and has its origins in virtual particles that exist in empty space.

A greener, cleaner groundwater cleanup process
A new bioremediation process developed at the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) is making the difficult job of removing chlorinated solvents from groundwater much easier.

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