Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (February 2003)

Science news and science current events archive February, 2003.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from February 2003

Background still counts in quest for success - but only up to A-level
A father's background is still, at least as, important as his son's academic abilities in determining whether the child will go on to get a degree at university, according to a new research sponsored by the ESRC.

Other highlights of the February 19 JNCI
Other highlights in the February 19 issue of JNCI include a study examining DNA repair capacity and malignant melanoma, a study of a natural compound as a chemopreventive agent for lung cancer, a study of OK-432 immunotherapy, a study looking at the association between pancreatic cancer cell invasiveness and DNA methylation, and a review article examining the measurement of health-related quality of life in clinical trials.

Women soldiers viewed as 'problematic', new report reveals
Attempts to attract and integrate women soldiers into the British Army are being undermined by a 'historically masculine' culture in which their presence is perceived to be disruptive, says a new study. Research by the Universities of Newcastle upon Tyne and Sunderland, published today, Wednesday February 5 2003, says that although the Army has made good progress in its equal opportunities policy, many male soldiers and officers still find it hard to adjust to the presence of women in the organisation.

Annals of Emergency Medicine study shows declining trend in emergency department payments
New study shows an overall declining trend in emergency care payments, with the most significant payment decline noted among the privately insured.

Engineers take new look at strength of industrial glass
An Ohio State University engineer and his colleagues have discovered something new about a 50-year-old type of fiberglass: it may be more than one and a half times stronger than previously thought. That conclusion, and the techniques engineers used to reach it, could help expand applications for glass fibers.

Symposium to investigate environmental health threats to children
A public meeting will be held to examine environmental health risks to children; address ways to translate science into action to protect children; and identify research gaps and developing plans to fill them and to discuss ways to better communicate risk through strengthened media relations .

Rich, poor, the wait is the same
A new study in CMAJ reports that Canada's health system does a good job of providing equitable service in terms of waiting times for elective surgery.

BRCA2 mutations may be associated with some hereditary pancreatic cancers
Mutations in the breast cancer susceptibility gene BRCA2 may be associated with a predisposition to hereditary pancreatic cancer, suggests a new study in the February 5 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Repeal of estate tax to increase tax burden and widen wealth gap
The federal government's most effective tool for reducing wealth inequality is the estate tax, but the tax is being phased out so that by 2010, the government will no longer collect taxes on the estates of the rich. Eliminating this important source of federal revenue, researcher Lisa A. Keister says, simply will create an economic burden for 98 percent of Americans to allow a tax break to the wealthiest 2 percent of the U.S. population.

Risk of sexually abused children becoming adult abusers lower than once thought
Authors of a UK study in this week's issue of The Lancet suggest that most male victims of child sexual abuse do not abuse children later in life-however there are specific factors that increase the chances of sexually abused children becoming abusers.

Time flies
With fresh approaches to quantum gravity, the big questions about the beginning of the universe and the possibility of time and space as particles--once thought

Keeping blood pressure in check
Hypertension - the presence of persistently high blood pressure - is a leading mortality risk factor. Kendall Blumer and colleagues at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, have found that mice lacking the protein RGS2, develop hypertension. RGS2 is involved in the signaling that causes constriction and relaxation of blood vessels. Genetic defects in humans that affect RGS2 function may therefore be novel risk factors for the development of hypertension.

Brief exposure to Mandarin can help American infants learn Chinese
Researchers have found a way to reverse what appears to be a universal decline in foreign language speech perception that begins toward the end of the first year of life. University of Washington neuroscientist Patrica Kuhl reported today that 9-month-old American infants who were exposed to Mandarin Chinese for less than five hours in a laboratory setting were able to distinguish phonetic elements of that language.

Asteroids, panic and planning
An internationally known disaster expert will present

Scientists urge managers to limit use of destructive fishing gears
Research presented today at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting shows that many fishermen, conservationists, and academics, despite frequent conflict over fisheries issues, agree that bottom trawling -- a common method to catch shrimp, fish, and other bottom dwelling sea life -- is the most ecologically damaging fishing gear.

Higher risks for women with diabetes using HRT
Women with diabetes who use hormone replacement therapy are at an increased risk of death from all causes and heart disease, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

Preliminary results: Investigational rapid-release nicotine gum effective in relieving cravings
An investigational rapid-release nicotine gum may provide more effective craving relief for smokers than Nicorette. Smoking cessation experts agree that relief of cravings can be key to a successfully quitting. Up to ninety percent of smokers trying to quit relapse to smoking within the first year. In the study of 319 smokers, comparisons of reported craving relief from chewing a piece of rapid-release gum or Nicorette was statistically significant at every timepoint from 12 to 35 minutes.

Antarctic animals are under threat from illegal fishing
Animals in the oceans surrounding Antarctica are under increasing threat. Fishery management organisations and governments need to do more to eliminate illegal fishing and regulate better legal fishing in Southern Ocean and adjacent areas according to Professor John Croxall speaking today (17 Feb) at a special symposium - Conserving Migratory Marine Organisms: Protecting animals with ocean-sized habitats organised by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Aircraft technology helps diagnose artificial hip, knee problems
To assess the wear and tear on jet engine parts, mechanics run the aircraft's lubricating fluid through a magnetic device to separate out engine debris. A URI researcher uses a similar process to assess the wear and tear on artificial hip and knee joints to reduce the number of follow-up surgeries patients must undergo.

Preventive Medicine 2003 plenary session summaries
This document includes summaries of selected plenary and concurrent session presentations and symposiums scheduled to take place during Preventive Medicine 2003, the premier annual forum for physicians with a primary interest in disease prevention and health promotion.

Media Advisory 2 - 2003 EGS-AGU-EUG Joint Assembly
Some 9-10,000 Earth and space scientists will assemble for the largest meeting of its type ever held in Europe, 7-11 April. Information on sessions and abstracts is now online. An excursion to the aquarium in Monaco is planned. The Press Pre-Registration deadline is 7 March.

Symposium highlights industrial-strength math
The numerous uses of numbers in a variety of industrial settings will be examined at

UCSD biologists' study links human impacts along the coast to size declines of marine snails
The average size of marine snails and limpets along the Southern California coast has declined significantly over the past century and collection by humans appears to be the culprit, according to a study led by biologists at the University of California, San Diego.

This is your heart on drugs: Study improves ER treatment for cocaine's heart effects
The largest-ever study of cocaine users who suffered heart-related effects from taking the drug finds that a specially designed plan of emergency-room care for such patients can save both lives and money. The study may help improve treatment for rising number of cocaine users who visit ERs for chest pain, heart attacks and other problems, but don't often admit to doctors that they've been using the drug.

Computer models forecast sharp increase in temperature if heat-trapping emissions continue to rise
Powerful computer models predict that winter temperatures in the polar regions of the world could rise as much as 10 degrees centigrade in the next hundred years, if no efforts are made to control production of carbon dioxide, methane and other gasses.

Findings reported in February Archives of Neurology provide new insights on Alzheimer's disease
The February 2003 issue of the Archives of Neurology, one of the Journal of the American Medical Association/Archives publications, features a series of research findings providing new insights on possible risk and protective factors regarding Alzheimer's disease (AD). These important reports include investigations of dietary fats, antioxidants, and estrogen, as well as possible genetic factors. The reports are based on research supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

Guidelines outline evaluation of children with global developmental delay
Child neurologists with the American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society have released new practice guidelines recommending tests that should be used to diagnose even the youngest children with global developmental delay.

Scientists get first close look at stardust
For the first time, scientists have identified and analyzed single grains of silicate stardust in the laboratory. This breakthrough, to be reported in the Feb. 27 issue of Science Express, provides a new way to study the history of the universe.

Mayo Clinic study shows loss of mental, functional abilities
A new Mayo Clinic study shows that the fears of many related to living into one's 90s and beyond -- getting lost in your own neighborhood; losing the ability to take care of financial affairs; having a driver's license revoked; ending up in a nursing home -- are in many cases unfounded.

New study sheds light on the responses to diuretics
The usage of diuretics, once the primary treatment for hypertension, has declined in recent years as newer, costlier drugs were introduced. But recent news suggests that diuretics are superior to newer drugs in lowering high blood pressure and preventing fatal complications. The bad news: some patients become resistant to diuretics after sustained usage. New research gives insight into the molecular basis of the adaptive mechanisms in long-term use of diuretics.

Patients and doctors must change attitudes for public to have real role in decision-making
Both doctors and patients need to change attitudes if moves towards greater public involvement in healthcare decision-making are to succeed, according to new research funded by the ESRC.

New design renders passenger trains handicapped-accessible, compatible with freight trains
An engineering professor from the University of Pennsylvania has designed a new train car that's fully accessible to disabled passengers, compatible with freight trains and spacious enough to carry nearly 40 percent more passengers. The university has filed for patent protection.

Cyclis Pharmaceuticals reports studies defining new mechanism for potential cancer therapies
Cyclis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today announced publication of laboratory studies demonstrating that an experimental anti-cancer agent, ß-lapachone, can selectively kill tumor cells while sparing healthy cells.

Cell density determines extent of damage caused by cigarette smoke exposure
New findings may offer roadmap to predicting how the body will respond to a deadly habit - collagen plays key role.

Downward trend in UK deaths from CJD
Trends in mortality in the UK from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) are outlined in a research letter in this week's issue of The Lancet. Data suggest that the disease, which peaked in 2000, is on the decline.

Leatherback sea turtles careening towards extinction
Today, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting, scientists made an impassioned appeal for international cooperation to save leatherback sea turtles from extinction. Leatherbacks are the oldest, largest, and widest-ranging marine animals ever to swim through our global ocean.

Color key to presentation of understandable scientific data
The scientific establishment is drowning in data, but whether it is census data or the vast amounts of satellite and computer-generated information created every day, visual representation and the use of color can help scientists understand and extract important patterns from this deluge, according to a Penn State cartographer.

Stanford biomedical ethicist speaks on role of race in scientific research
Is racial profiling OK in a research setting? Is categorizing groups of people based on genetic characteristics acceptable? These are some of the questions that researchers, led by Mildred Cho, PhD, senior research scholar at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, will tackle during a symposium at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Denver.

Alcohol researchers identify a genetic basis of pain response
A common genetic variant influences individual responses and adaptation to pain and other stressful stimuli and may underlie vulnerability to many psychiatric and other complex diseases, reports David Goldman, M.D., Chief, Laboratory of Neurogenetics, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and colleagues at NIAAA and the University of Michigan. COMT val158met Genotype Affects m-Opioid Neurotransmitter Responses to a Pain Stressor appears in the February 21 issue of Science.

Young children 'fall in love with goodness' when they help guide their own instruction
Goodman found that children learn lessons of morality best when they are involved and participating in their own instruction rather than having the lessons handed down from an authority figure.

Ecowar looming with sunken wartime wrecks
According to the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, there are around 1080 wrecks from the Second World War littering the floor of the Pacific Ocean. One of these ruptured in 2001, sending oil gushing to the surface of the ocean, fouling beaches and polluting the waters. How many more of these wrecks pose a similar threat to the environment?

Family history has limited predictive value for asthma risk
Although a family history of asthma is associated with increased risk of asthma in children, family history does not successfully predict enough cases of childhood asthma to be a useful tool in guiding widespread environmental prevention efforts, a new study concludes.

Sex, flounder and donuts
Sex, warm water and southern flounder may mean new aquaculture operations as a Sea Grant research team is turning up the heat on Southern flounder to produce all-female cultured stocks. Lake Superior researchers seek to explain donut shaped faults at lake bottom.

Preventive Medicine 2003 selected oral, poster abstracts
Included in this document are summaries of key oral and poster abstracts that are being presented during Preventive Medicine 2003, the premier annual forum for physicians with a primary interest in disease prevention and health promotion.

Estrogen and personality in women
In the upcoming issue of Molecular Psychiatry (Nature Publishing Group), researchers from Sweden report that specific variations in the sequence of the estrogen receptor gene are associated in women with the personality traits of 'non-conformity,' including the subscales 'indirect aggression' and 'irritability' and the factor 'psychoticism,' including the subscale 'suspicion.' The results suggest that the studied dinucleotide repeat polymorphism of the ER alpha gene may contribute to specific components of personality.

From kissing frogs to demonic possession, people are led to believe they experienced the improbable
During a recent study of memory recall and the use of suggestive interviewing, UC Irvine cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Loftus successfully planted false memories in volunteers of several study groups -- memories that included such unlikely events as kissing frogs, shaking hands with Bugs Bunny at Disneyland, and witnessing a demonic possession.

UBC research offers new hope for people crippled by obsessive, repugnant thoughts
Imagine being tortured by repeated thoughts of stabbing your child or having sex with your minister - thoughts that won't go away no matter how hard you try to suppress them. In the largest study of its kind ever conducted in North America, University of British Columbia researchers will spend four years treating 120 people suffering from this disorder, previously thought to be untreatable.

Battery power
The EUREKA project 3D STRUCTURES has introduced a revolutionary new process that creates lighter batteries that last longer for use in laptops and mobile phones.

Seattle, New York researchers to receive neuroscience prize endowed by UNC scientist
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has named Drs. Linda Buck and Richard Axel co-recipients of the third annual Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize. The prize carries a $10,000 award and is given to recognize a seminal achievement in the field of neuroscience.

WWII discovery may counter bioterrorists
A biochemical discovery during World War II might be an effective response against today's threat of bioterrorism, particularly the use of poison gases. Two faculty members at the Ft. Wayne Center for Medical Education discuss this topic in the March issue of Annals of Emergency Medicine.

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