Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (February 2006)

Science news and science current events archive February, 2006.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from February 2006

The American Evaluation Association: The Consequences of Evaluation
The American Evaluation Association invites R&D evaluators from around the world to submit a proposal to present at its annual conference to be held on 1-4 November 2006 in Portland, Oregon. This year's conference theme will be

Mice lacking social memory molecule take bullying in stride
The social avoidance that normally develops when a mouse repeatedly experiences defeat by a dominant animal disappears when it lacks a gene for a memory molecule in a brain circuit for social learning, scientists have discovered. Mice engineered to lack this memory molecule continued to welcome strangers in spite of repeated social defeat. Their unaltered peers subjected to the same hard knocks became confirmed loners - unless the researchers treated them with antidepressants.

UQ researchers help lead the way in bird flu research
University of Queensland researchers will lead two projects announced today as part of the Commonwealth Government's $6.5 million bird flu research program.

Kidney cancer patients may be overtreated, U-M study finds
A less aggressive type of surgery designed to spare healthy organ tissue is used infrequently to treat early-stage kidney cancer, according to researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Diabetes can lead to gum disease in childhood; onset is younger than previously recognized
New research from Columbia University Medical Center has shown that the destruction of the gums can start in diabetic children as young as six years old. While the link between diabetes and periodontal disease was previously established, it was believed that the regression of gums began much later and increased with age. The study is published in the February issue of Diabetes Care.

The long research road to a new vaccine
The Food and Drug Administration today announced the licensing of a new vaccine against rotavirus, a disease responsible for tens of thousands of hospitalizations in the United States and hundreds of thousands of deaths around the world each year. The early research that underpins the new vaccine was conducted by three scientists at the Wistar Institute and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia between 1980 and 1991.

Research books its place in the library of the future
In the digital age, cultural institutions face new technical and organisational challenges. They must improve and sometimes radically change how they acquire, store and preserve their collections as well as how they provide access to users. European research is helping them rise to the challenge.

'High efficiency' vacuum cleaners no better at protecting against dust mites
Researchers at the North West Lung Centre, run by The University of Manchester and based at Wythenshawe Hospital, have discovered that vacuum cleaners with 'high-efficiency particulate air' or HEPA filters are no more effective than standard models at reducing exposure to dust-mites.

Researcher looks for more targeted way to deliver cancer drugs
The future of drug design lies in finding ways to target a drug specifically to a diseased cell, or even a molecule within that cell, while leaving healthy cells and molecules unharmed.

The critical importance of mangroves to ocean life
Mangrove plants, whose finger-like roots are known to protect coastal wetlands against the ocean and as important fish habitats, cover less than 0.1 percent of the global land surface yet account for a tenth of the dissolved organic carbon (DOC) that flows from land to the ocean. The plants are one of the main sources of dissolved organic matter in the ocean.

Coping with crisis on campus: Conference will focus on college mental health issues after disasters
In the past few years, college campuses across the country have been rocked by crisis, from regional disasters such as hurricanes and terrorist attacks to local incidents including accidents, fires and clusters of suicides. On March 21 and 22, hundreds of representatives from dozens of higher-education institutions will come together at the University of Michigan for a conference where they can share tactics and insights about preparing for and coping with crisis.

Methadone therapy - one dose does not fit all
Methadone has been used for more than 30 years as a treatment for heroin addicts. Doctors have all along struggled to find the best doses to help patients overcome their heroin cravings without getting them used to higher levels of methadone (itself an dependence-forming substance) than necessary. A new study by Jodie Trafton and colleagues (from the VA Palo Alto Health Care System) provides strong support for the notion that there is no one dose that fits all.

Quantum computer solves problem, without running
By combining quantum computation and quantum interrogation, scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have found an exotic way of determining an answer to an algorithm - without ever running the algorithm. Using an optical-based quantum computer, a research team led by physicist Paul Kwiat has presented the first demonstration of

Authors, illustrator win AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books
Four authors and an illustrator of children's science books won the 2006 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books for recently published works that promote scientific literacy, are scientifically sound, and foster an understanding and appreciation of science in readers of all ages.

The invisible galaxies that could not hide
Astronomers, using the unique capabilities offered by the high-resolution spectrograph UVES on ESO's Very Large Telescope, have found a metal-rich hydrogen cloud in the distant universe. The result may help to solve the missing metal problem and provides insight on how galaxies form.

Drug treatment before angioplasty or stent placement not beneficial for heart attack patients
A common practice for improving outcomes in patients with sudden heart attack actually offers no benefit and could cause harm, according to a review of randomised trials published online today (Tuesday February 14, 2006) by The Lancet.

Stroke patients regain ability to communicate through use of speech generating device
Currently one million Americans suffer from aphasia. By 2020 the aphasic population of the US is projected to double. Aphasia can affect speech, understanding and/or reading comprehension. Research, using computers to do extended therapy, now indicates that these patients can continue to improve even many years after their stroke or brain trauma. Lingraphicare America has published results of studies which show significant improvements after use of the Lingraphica speech generating device.

Rice, M. D. Anderson win funds for bench to bed training
Rice University, the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) today announced an innovative new PhD program that will offer Rice bioengineering students a chance to go on clinical rounds and take coursework at M. D. Anderson. The program marries Rice's top-ranked bioengineering program with the clinical and basic science strengths of M. D. Anderson, one of the nation's top-ranked cancer hospitals.

Ovarian cancer responds to aspirin derivative with chemo
A new study using ovarian cancer cell lines shows promise in treating the deadly disease by combining the chemotherapy drug cisplatin with an aspirin-like compound to make recurrent cancer cells less resistant to the chemotherapy. The study appears online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A clue to core problem of neurodegenerative disease and cell death
Misfolded and damaged proteins are common to all human neurodegenerative diseases, but explanations for the mechanism that kills neurons have varied widely. Northwestern University scientists now offer a clue that may establish a common mechanism in these diseases. Their findings suggest that the disease-associated, aggregation-prone proteins may exert their destabilizing effects by interfering with other proteins that are having difficulty folding, causing them to lose function. Over time, this can cause the organism to die.

A neutron star spins toward intergalactic space
Scientists using the Very Large Baseline Array show that the fastest known neutron star has sufficient velocity to escape the galaxy. The study, co-authored by Cornell professor of astronomy James Cordes, was published last fall in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Changes in reef latitude
Researchers have hypothesized that nutrient levels rather than temperature are the main factor controlling the latitudinal bounds of coral reefs, but the issue remains controversial. New results from a South Florida reef survey strongly support this hypothesis, suggesting human activities are reducing the areas where corals can survive.

Combination of PET, MR imaging shows white matter degeneration in Huntington's disease patients
Using both brain function (PET) and anatomical structure (MR) imaging studies, Italian researchers--within the context of an Italian-British collaboration--discovered that degenerative and dysfunctional events occur in individuals many years before the onset of Huntington's disease--particularly in the brain's white matter--an area not previously considered primarily involved with the disease. In fact, the brain's white matter

Rutgers College of Nursing hosts end-of-life conference
Julia Duane Quinlan, mother of Karen Ann Quinlan, whose legal battle to remove her daughter from a respirator changed the use of life-support for the dying, will speak at the first annual conference of the New Jersey End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium hosted by the College of Nursing Center for Professional Development at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

Unexpected high rates of tobacco use
In many regions of the world, the difference in current cigarette smoking between boys and girls is narrower than expected, according to an article published online today (Friday February 17, 2006) by The Lancet.

Globalization: Children and working parents pay too high a price
What do a Baltimore nurse, a Honduran sweatshop worker, and a Vietnamese shoe factory laborer have in common? If they are parents, they all have to balance the often impossible demands of earning a living with those of raising healthy, cared-for children. Dr. Jody Heymann has produced a groundbreaking study devoted to understanding how globalization is affecting working families around the world.

Wildlife researchers identify impacts of contamination in amphibians
Researchers from different insititutions working together at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and in the field have demonstrated that amphibians are exposed to contaminants through maternal transfer, as has been proven for other vertebrates.

Living taste cells produced outside the body
Researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center have succeeded in growing mature taste receptor cells outside the body and for the first time have been able to successfully keep the cells alive for a prolonged period of time. The establishment of a viable long-term model opens a range of new opportunities to increase scientists' understanding of the sense of taste and how it functions in nutrition, health and disease.

Scientists discuss evolutionary roots of social behavior
Researchers have long reflected on that most intriguing of evolutionary questions: What led to the emergence of social behavior? A symposium on Feb. 19 at the AAAS annual conference will explore this question.

National Inventors Hall of Fame announces 2006 inductees
Continuing its commitment to honor invention and innovation, the National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation has recognized the 2006 group which includes eight living inventors who represent accomplishments that have bettered our quality of life. From advancing digital imaging to better ways of administering medicine, and from modernizing the printing process to enabling the widespread use of the Internet, the work of each inventor has had an impact on all of our lives.

March of Dimes commits additional $2.4 million to prematurity research
The March of Dimes will support the innovative research of six scientists with combined grants of more than $2.4 million with its second annual Prematurity Research Initiative. The studies seek to find new ways to identify women at risk for premature birth by studying genetic patterns. Three projects focus on what role a woman's inflammatory response to infection may play in triggering labor; two look at role of the hormone progesterone in delaying early labor.

Deep X-ray surveys reveal black hole population, glimpse at the universe
Data from X-ray observatory surveys show that black holes are much more numerous and evolved differently than researchers would have expected, according to a Penn State astronomer.

'Big Science': Top funding for EU lung research project PULMOTENSION
As of January 1, 2006, the European Union funds the Lung Research Project PULMOTENSION with Euro 11, 4 Mio over the next four years. The project is coordinated by Prof. Werner Seeger, University of Giessen Lung Center, Germany and 31 institutions in alliance with industrial partners in 12 European countries. It aims to combat and cure pulmonary hypertension, a devastating lung disease.

Risk for low sexual desire increases in women after surgical menopause
A cross-sectional survey of European women shows that surgically menopausal women are at increased risk for low sexual desire. In the March 2006 issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers have published the first-ever multi-cultural prevalence study using multi-dimensional psychometrically valid outcomes to determine if women who undergo surgical menopause have a greater risk of low sexual interest compared with that of pre-menopausal or naturally menopausal women.

NIH seeks strategies to preserve brain health
The National Institutes of Health is intensifying the search for strategies to preserve brain health as people grow older. An expert panel reports to the NIH on a number of promising avenues for research, suggesting that education, cardiovascular health, physical activity, psychosocial factors and genetics appear to be associated with brain health with age.

Antarctic snow inaccurate temperature archive
According to Dutch researcher Michiel Helsen, annual and seasonal temperature fluctuations are not accurately recorded in the composition of the snow of Antarctica. His research into the isotopic composition of the Antarctic snow has exposed the complexity of climate reconstructions.

Future of Welsh language depends on parents
As parents in Wales teach their children about the symbolism of daffodils and dragons on St. David's day, how many of them will do it speaking in Welsh? A recent study shows that the future of Welsh language is threatened by the fact that many parents are not speaking in their own language to their children.

Most Americans do not expect widespread human cases of avian flu in US in the next year
The latest national poll conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) Project on the Public and Biological Security finds that at the moment, the majority of the American public is concerned about the threat of avian flu, but only a small proportion is very concerned. However, should cases of avian flu emerge in poultry or humans in this country, the public reaction could lead to significant disruption of the economy and the health care system.

University of Kentucky author captures national attention with 'Lost Mountain'
After spending a year watching Lost Mountain change from a dense, glorious ecosystem to barren land, Erik Reece's soul was stirred to respond to the loss with his first book

Breakthrough computer chip lithography method developed at RIT
A new computer chip lithography method under development at Rochester Institute of Technology has led to imaging capabilities beyond that previously thought possible. The method, known as evanescent wave lithography is capable of optically imaging the smallest-ever semiconductor device geometry. Imaging rendered to 26 nanometers comes at least five years sooner than anticipated, using the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors.

Eating less fat may lower breast-cancer risk, have little impact on colon-cancer, heart-disease risk
Adopting a low-fat diet in later life and following such a regimen for nearly a decade does not appear to have a significant impact on reducing overall risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer or heart disease.

Student-friendly GIS leads to real-world science inquiry and fulfills NRC report's recommendations
A report by the National Research Council urging educators to teach K-12 students to think spatially and use geographic information systems (GIS) to do so underscores the importance of educational research underway at Northwestern University. Researchers there have developed a student-friendly GIS tool that makes it possible for middle and high school students to use real-world geographic data in much the way professional scientists do.

Lower doses of clot-busting drug safer for stroke patients
A Johns Hopkins study has shown that patients treated for a type of stroke caused by bleeding in the brain, or intracerebral hemorrhage, survived more often if given 1 milligram instead of the previously studied 3 milligram dose of the clot-busting drug tissue plasminogen activator (tPA).

MRI drug may improve cancer-killing ability of chemotherapy, study says
A contrast agent currently used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), called mangafodipir, may increase the cancer-killing ability of some chemotherapy drugs while protecting normal cells, according to a study in the February 15 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Chemical Society Atlanta meeting March 26 - 30 covers health, environment
A compound with its roots in your backyard that could fight bird flu, the use of nanoparticles to clean up contaminated soil and a potential new treatment for life-threatening infections -- these are a few of the findings chemists will present at the 231st National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Atlanta, March 26 - 30.

Partner proteins may help estrogen foster breast cancer
A new study suggests that the hormone estrogen works in partnership with other proteins to activate or suppress gene activity in breast cancer cells. Surprisingly, one of the partner proteins is known as c-MYC, a gene activator that has long been associated with cancer development but was not known to interact with estrogen during tumor progression.

SensorNet prototype system in boot camp at Fort Bragg
Fort Bragg could be the model for the nation when it comes to protecting the public through a network that integrates a 911 dispatch system with sensors, alarms and video surveillance.

International award honors M. D. Anderson President for pioneering research
For his breakthrough research in cancer therapy, John Mendelsohn, MD, president of The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, has been named co-recipient of a 2006 Dan David Prize, which was announced in Paris.

Seminar examines biology of pain and nerve repair in peripheral nerve disease
The Jack Miller Center for Peripheral Neuropathy at the University of Chicago will present its second biennial scientific symposium on the

Clay for cleaner production of solvent
Dutch researcher Ferry Winter has developed a heterogeneous catalyst for the production of the industrially important solvent methyl isobutyl ketone. With the new catalyst the production process is more environmentally-friendly. The catalyst consists of hydrotalcite, a naturally-occurring clay.

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