Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (February 2015)

Science news and science current events archive February, 2015.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from February 2015

Unhealthy choices boosted mortality rates for blacks who migrated north
Millions of African-Americans left the rural South during the 20th century in search of greater opportunities for work, education and overall quality of life in the urban North, Midwest and West. But the gains many made were clouded by an increased mortality rate, likely the result of unhealthy habits picked up by vices common in the big city, finds a new study led by Duke University.

New study finds hospital readmissions following surgery are not tied to errors in care
A study from Northwestern Medicine® and the American College of Surgeons published today in JAMA suggests that penalizing hospitals for patient readmissions following surgery may be ineffective, and even counterproductive, for improving the quality of hospital care in America. The authors of the study, titled 'Underlying Reasons Associated with Hospital Readmission Following Surgery in the United States,' found that most surgical readmissions are not due to poor care coordination or mismanagement of known issues.

Bionic leaf
Solar energy can be harnessed using electricity from photovoltaic cells to yield hydrogen that can be stored in fuel cells. But hydrogen has failed to catch on as a practical fuel for cars or for power. Converting solar energy into liquid fuel could accelerate its adoption as a power source.

Neck pain can be changed through altered visual feedback
Using virtual reality to misrepresent how far the neck is turned can actually change pain experiences in individuals who suffer from chronic neck pain, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

New Science paper calculates magnitude of plastic waste going into the ocean
How much mismanaged plastic waste is making its way from land to ocean has been a decades-long guessing game. Now, the University of Georgia's Jenna Jambeck and her National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis working group colleagues have put a number on the global problem. Their study, reported in Science, found between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tons of plastic entered the ocean in 2010 from people living within 50 kilometers of the coastline.

Getting yeast to pump up the protein production
Northwestern University researchers have genetically modified yeast to prevent it from metabolizing protein, leading to higher yields of an industrially useful product.

UTSA and Silicon Informatics develop high performance computing software tools
UTSA computer science professor Raj Boppana has teamed up with Silicon Informatics Inc. to develop high performance computing software tools that could test simulations of up to 1.5 billion streams of random numbers. Random number generation is crucial for the realistic computer modeling of complex phenomena in science and industry. The tools could even be used by the military to determine enemy strategies or weapons testing. The financial sector could also use the software tools to help retiring senior citizens with future financial portfolios.

Is your busy schedule affecting your health? Time might not be the problem
The modern schedule is infamously frantic, leaving many of us feeling constantly pressed for time. But that feeling may not have much to do with time itself, according to a new study in the Journal of Marketing Research.

Biophysicist receives EliteForsk Award 2015
Biophysics professor Lene Oddershede of the University of Copenhagen's Niels Bohr Institute at the Faculty of Science will receive an EliteForsk Award -- Denmark's largest public research award -- on Thursday, Feb. 26. Lene Oddershede's work mainly focuses on an interdisciplinary research domain where physics, biology and medicine merge. Among other things, award funding will go to build new equipment that will be used to better understand how the development of stem cells can be steered for the benefit of patients worldwide.

A breakthrough in nanotoxicology by INRS researchers
Whereas resistance to antibiotics complicates certain treatments, antimicrobial silver nanoparticles are gaining popularity for medical use. These particles are toxic for certain bacteria, but what about for humans? Researchers at INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier Research Centre have taken a step toward understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that affect these particles.

An innovative road to cut lentil imports in rice growing countries
Rice farmers in the villages of West Bengal and Bangladesh are opening a new path for India and neighboring countries to reducing dependence on foreign lentils -- its largest consumers in the world. A new innovative practice of growing lentils in the field left fallow after rice harvest is quietly taking root with the help of an agricultural research and training project -- possibly ushering in the next green revolution in this part of the world.

Scientists predict earth-like planets around most stars
Planetary scientists have calculated that there are hundreds of billions of Earth-like planets in our galaxy which might support life, by applying a 200 year old idea to the thousands of exo-planets discovered by the Kepler space telescope.

Middle-aged men at highest risk of suicide after breathing poor air
In research published today in The American Journal of Epidemiology, investigator Amanda Bakian, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Utah, and her colleagues outline chemical and meteorological variables that are risk factors for suicide. Their study, titled 'Risk assessment of air pollution and suicide,' examines how those factors play out among different genders and age groups.

UT Arlington zebra mussels expert to receive national recognition
UT Arlington biology professor emeritus Robert McMahon, widely known for his research of invasive zebra mussels, will receive the National Invasive Species Council's Lifetime Achievement Award Feb. 22-28 in Washington, D.C.

Illinois trailing other states in girls studying science, math
Study found that fewer girls in Illinois prepare for careers in STEM fields than in high schools nationwide. Researchers propose that lawmakers offer financial incentives to schools to address gender inequities.

HPV vaccine highly effective against multiple cancer-causing strains
According to a multinational clinical trial involving nearly 20,000 young women, the human papilloma virus vaccine, Cervarix, not only has the potential to prevent cervical cancer, but was effective against other common cancer-causing human papillomaviruses, aside from just the two HPV types, 16 and 18, which are responsible for about 70 percent of all cases. That effectiveness endured for the study's entire follow-up, of up to four years.

Researchers detail reasons for ibrutinib therapy discontinuation in CLL
About 10 percent of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia discontinued therapy with the Bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitor drug ibrutinib because of disease progression during clinical trials, according to a study published online in JAMA Oncology by scientists at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

Griffith research unlocks more about cancer
Ground-breaking research from Griffith University on the Gold Coast has some scientists wondering if the entire study of cellular biology needs to be adjusted.

Teens from single-parent families leave school earlier
Individuals who live in single-parent families as teens received fewer years of schooling and are less likely to attain a bachelor's degree than those from two-parent families.

MD Anderson studies skin cancer patients resistant to leading therapy
Powerful drugs known as BRAF-inhibitors have been crucial for melanoma patients, saving lives through their ability to turn off the BRAF protein's power to spur cancer cell growth.

Study affirms role of specialized protein in assuring normal cell development
Scientists at NYU Langone Medical Center and New York University have demonstrated that a specialized DNA-binding protein called CTCF is essential for the precise expression of genes that control the body plan of a developing embryo.

Modern logging techniques benefit rainforest wildlife
New research has highlighted the value of a modern logging technique for maintaining biodiversity in tropical forests that are used for timber production.

Research points to genes that may help us form memories
Gene expression within neurons is critical for the formation of memories, but it's difficult to identify genes whose expression is altered by learning. Now researchers have successfully monitored the expression of genes in neurons after rats were exposed to auditory fear conditioning, in which a neutral auditory tone is paired with electric shock.

Penn researchers develop new technique for making molybdenum disulfide
University of Pennsylvania researchers have made an advance in manufacturing molybdenum disulphide, a 2-D material that could compete with graphene for replacing silicon in next-generation electronics. By growing flakes of the material around 'seeds' of molybdenum oxide, they have made it easier to control the size, thickness and location of the material.

It's tough to shift that weight, McMaster studies show
The McMaster Evidence Review and Synthesis Centre reviewed hundreds of recent studies about overweight and obesity published in the past decade. The last of its five related papers was published today.

New understanding of electron behavior at tips of carbon nanocones could help provide candidates
One of the ways of improving electrons manipulation is though better control over one of their inner characteristics, called spin. This approach is the object of an entire field of study, known as spintronics. In a study, published in EPJ B, Richard Pincak from the Slovak Academy of Sciences and colleagues have just uncovered new possibilities for manipulating the electrons on the tips of graphitic nanocones

ASU hosts inaugural International Society for Evolution, Medicine & Public Health Meeting
Arizona State University will host a premiere opportunity to engage and mingle with luminaries in the burgeoning field of evolutionary medicine, a new interdisciplinary approach that is becoming an essential perspective in our view of disease, today's medical practice and the worldwide impact on public health as it hosts the Inaugural International Society for Evolution, Medicine & Public Health Meeting, March 19-21, 2015 in Tempe, Ariz.

Novel precision medicine tool could help personalize cancer treatments
A new laboratory test accurately predicted which of many drug treatments would most effectively kill cancer cells in the laboratory and in the clinic. If validated in ongoing clinical trials, the test could be ready to inform patient care in about two years.

Mining the moon becomes a serious prospect
With an estimated 1.6 billion tons of water ice at its poles and an abundance of rare-earth elements hidden below its surface, the moon is rich ground for mining.

Zombie outbreak? Statistical mechanics reveal the ideal hideout
A team of Cornell University researchers focusing on a fictional zombie outbreak as an approach to disease modeling suggests heading for the hills, in the Rockies, to save your brains from the undead.

Cooperation, considered
Harvard researchers have developed a first-of-its-kind model, dubbed the 'envelope game,' that can help researchers understand not only not only why people evolved to be cooperative but why people evolved to cooperate in a principled way.

Salish Sea seagull populations halved since 1980s
The number of seagulls in the Strait of Georgia is down by 50 per cent from the 1980s and University of British Columbia researchers say the decline reflects changes in the availability of food.

One in 3 women could potentially be spared chronic pain after breast cancer surgery
One in every three women undergoing a mastectomy could potentially be spared chronic post-operative pain if anesthesiologists used a regional anesthetic technique in combination with standard care, according to a new study.

Sub-Saharan Africans rate their wellbeing and health care among the lowest in the world
Sub-Saharan Africans rate their own wellbeing, their health and their health-care systems among the lowest in the world, according to a new report published by Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Submissions open for new OUP Open Access title, Journal of Cybersecurity
Oxford University Press is pleased to announce that submissions are now open for the new open access title Journal of Cybersecurity.

Sobering effect of the love hormone
Researchers at the University of Sydney and University of Regensburg have found that giving drunken rats oxytocin counteracts its intoxicating effects.

Widely used food additive promotes colitis, obesity and metabolic syndrome, research shows
Emulsifiers, which are added to most processed foods to aid texture and extend shelf life, can alter the gut microbiota composition and localization to induce intestinal inflammation that promotes the development of inflammatory bowel disease and metabolic syndrome, new research shows.

Study seeks to understand Amazonia's past to ensure its sustainable future
A new international project led by the University of Exeter will investigate the Amazon's sustainable future by studying the way that ancient societies used and transformed the environment. The study is pioneering a remote sensing data device that will be attached to an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to scan beneath the canopy of the forest.

Fine-tuned supramolecular polymerization
In work published in Science, researchers from the RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science, led by Takuzo Aida, have demonstrated a new method for artificially building and dismantling supramolecular polymers in a tightly controlled and selective way, following the methods of traditional polymer chemistry by taking advantage of the monomer elements' own tendency to self-organize. This opens the way to the creation, though precision supramolecular engineering, or polymers with a wide range of properties that could be exploited for new applications.

Sleeping over 8 hours a day associated with greater risk of stroke
People who sleep for more than eight hours a day have an increased risk of stroke, according to a study by the University of Cambridge -- and this risk doubles for older people who persistently sleep longer than average. However, the researchers say it is unclear why this association exists and call for further research to explore the link.

Life on other planets: Alternative chemistries of life
Ideas about directing evolution of life forms on Earth and finding life on other planets are rapidly morphing from science-fiction fantasy into mainstream science. A panel discussion, 'Searching for Alternative Chemistries of Life on Earth and Throughout the Universe,' is set for Friday, Feb. 13, at 3 p.m., during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Jose.

MARC Travel Awards Announced for ABRF 2015 Annual Meeting
FASEB MARC (Maximizing Access to Research Careers) Program has announced the travel award recipients for the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities 2015 Annual Meeting from March 28-31, 2015, in St. Louis, Mo.

American Stroke Association honors outstanding contributors to stroke, research
Three pioneers in stroke research, two neurologist researchers, a neurosurgery resident and a bioengineering researcher will be honored by the American Stroke Association at the International Stroke Conference 2015 at the Nashville Music City Center.

Yes, we can stop viruses such as Ebola and rabies -- here's how
With a group of like-minded scientists, editors Asit K. Pattanaik and Michael Whitt have compiled a timely publication entitled 'Biology and Pathogenesis of Rhabdo- and Filoviruses' discussing the most recent findings on processes and current status of development of vaccines and antivirals to mitigate the diseases caused by viruses like Ebola and rabies.

IUPUI biologist receives NIH grant to study how glaucoma develops in stem cells
Jason Meyer, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology in the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, has received a National Institutes of Health grant to study how glaucoma develops in stem cells created from skin cells genetically predisposed to the disease. The five-year, $1.8 million grant is funded by the NIH's National Eye Institute.

Mainz researchers identify novel factor involved in autophagy
Neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease are typically characterized by protein deposits in the brain. These are comprised of defective, insoluble proteins which no longer fulfill their function and which cells are unable to break down. The work group headed by Professor Christian Behl of the Institute of Pathobiochemistry of the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz has determined the RAB3GAP complex as a novel factor that influences the efficient degradation of proteins.

After merger, chimpanzees learned new grunt for 'apple'
Chimpanzees have special grunts for particular types of foods, and their fellow chimps know exactly what those calls mean. Now, by studying what happened after two separate groups of adult chimpanzees moved in together at the Edinburgh Zoo, researchers have made the surprising discovery, published in Current Biology, that our primate cousins can change those referential grunts over time, to make them sound more like those of new peers.

1 in 5 suicides is associated with unemployment
Every year, around 45,000 people take their own lives because they are out of work or someone close to them is affected by unemployment, as a study by the University of Zurich now reveals. It includes data of 63 countries and demonstrates that during the 2008 economic crisis the number of all suicides associated with unemployment was nine times higher than previously believed.

Mothers can pass traits to offspring through bacteria's DNA
A new study in mice has shown that the DNA of bacteria that live in the body can pass a trait to offspring in a way similar to the parents' own DNA. According to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the discovery means scientists need to consider a significant new factor -- the DNA of microbes passed from mother to child -- in their efforts to understand how genes influence illness and health.

LSU Health New Orleans research finds psychedelic drug prevents asthma development in mice
Research led by Charles Nichols, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at the LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has found that a psychedelic drug, (R)-DOI, prevents the development of allergic asthma in a mouse model. The effects are potent and effective at a concentration 50-100 times less than would influence behavior. 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