Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (January 1997)

Science news and science current events archive January, 1997.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from January 1997

Tax Reform And Its Environmental Implications Investigated
National tax reform may have a substantial impact on the environment as well as on economic growth, researchers at Resources for the Future and Stanford University suggest. They have recently launched a study of the environmental implications of three alternative tax plans -- the flat tax, the national sales tax, and the unlimited savings account tax -- now under discussion in Congress

Nerve Growth Factor Induces Cell Death In Some Childhood Tumors: Surprising Findings Suggest Cancer Gene Therapy Approach
Nerve growth factor (NGF) helps immature neurons survive. Now, researchers at the University of Pennsylania Medical Center have discovered that, paradoxically, NGF can also induce massive cell suicide among childhood brain tumor cells engineered to express the receptor for NGF. The surprising findings suggest a new cancer gene therapy approach

Model May Explain "Super-Rotation" Of Earth's Core
Johns Hopkins geophysicists have developed a model that may help explain recent findings that suggest the Earth's solid inner core rotates faster than the rest of the planet

Laser Microscope At Cornell Images Serotonin In Live Cells
Cornell researchers, using a non-linear laser-microscope technology developed at Cornell, have produced images displaying the neurotransmitter serotonin in live cells in real time, and they have for the first time measured the concentration of serotonin in secretory granules. The technology could be useful for a range of biomedical disorders.

Supernova 1987A Expected To Light Up The Sky Once Again
Supernova 1987A, which provided astronomers a spectacular show 10 years ago, is brightening once again as a rapidly expanding debris cloud from the original explosion slams into an enormous ring of hydrogen gas encircling the dying star

Long-Term Stewardship Of DOE's Nuclear Weapons Complex Addressed At RFF Workshop
More than 40 experts on risk management, land use and the nation's nuclear weapons complex gathered at Resources for the Future to discuss the challenges faced in assuring protection from risks to human health and the environment posed by hazards remaining at the nation's nuclear weapons production sites once the United States Department of Energy completes its major cleanup activities

New Help For Deicing Decisions: Delta, USAir, United Airlines Test FAA/NCAR Info System At LaGuardia And O'Hare
Beginning early January, a new FAA/NCAR system being demonstrated at LaGuardia and O'Hare airports will provide snowfall

Managing For Many Species Crucial To Head Off Threats Of Extinction, Says Director Of National Biological Service
Managing for a single endangered species may put other species at risk and is no longer a reasonable policy option, according to a paper published today in the journal Science

Scientists Probe Connections Between Coast-to-Coast and Atlantic Ocean Winter Storms
Powerful winter storms that strike the U.S. West Coast often occur in series, like the ones that recently raked Washington, Oregon, and California. These storms have their counterparts in the North Atlantic Ocean, and scientists supported in part bythe National Science Foundation (NSF) are hot on their trail

UNESCO Director-General Urges Greater Role For Scientists In Public Policy
UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor today called on scientists to help shape public policy at all levels of society on the eve of a new century and pledged the Organization's support in this endeavour, at the inaugural meeting of UNESCO's International Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB)

A Forecasting Supercomputer Gives A Close-Up Look At Pacific Northwest Weather
One of the nation's most advanced weather-forecasting systems has been installed at the University of Washington. The heart of the system, a powerful supercomputer, has already proven itself by giving detailed and accurate warnings of the severe winter storms that devastated the Pacific Northwest in December

Researchers Corral Millions Of Microscopic Membranes
Stanford scientists have done the next best thing to packaging living cells in individual boxes for study: using microfabrication techniques they have created a specially prepared surface that holds millions of microscopic membrane squares that closely mimic the surface of living cells.

Buying Pots And Pans Over The Internet
Department store buyers and consumers may soon be able to compare and buy housewares over the Internet using a technology developed by computer scientists at Stanford University.The technology links online catalogs in a way that allows users to search their contents even when they use different terms

In Search Of Habitable Moons
Recent identification of Jupiter-like planets around distant stars has raised hopes of extraterrestrial life outside our solar system, but not on the gas giants themselves. While gas giants probably will not support life, their moons may

Benefits Of New Diet Drug Don't Outweigh Risks
The benefits of Redux (d-fenfluramine) don't outweigh the risks, according to Cornell University nutritionist David Levitsky,who has examined the 40 studies on long-term use of the diet pill.

Selenium Supplements Can Reduce Cancer Rates
Men and women taking selenium supplements for 10 years had 41 percent less total cancer than those taking a placebo, a new study by Cornell University and the University of Arizona shows. This is the first double-blind, placebo-controlled cancer prevention study with humans that directly supports the thesis that a nutritional supplement of selenium, as a single agent, can reduce the risk of cance

Infrared Technology Makes It Possible To "See" Breaking Waves In Open Ocean As Never Before
Discerning the strength of breaking waves in the open ocean is crucial for those forecasting stormy seas and for scientists wrestling with questions of how the Earth's oceans absorb and release greenhouse gases and heat. A new remote infrared imaging technique is described in this week's issue of Nature

Bog Beetle, Misidentified For 85 Years, Is 'Discovered' At Cornell
A beetle sitting in a collection at Cornell Univ. has been identified by Cornell entomologist

Proteins Interacting With RNA And DNA Are Surprisingly Similar
A Johns Hopkins discovery that certain proteins that interact with RNA or DNA are nearly identical in shape and method of operation. The finding may be helpful to chemists attempting to find more effective antibiotics.

Not Following The Prescription--92 Percent Of Children Using Common Asthma Medications Exaggerate Use
Ninety-two percent of children taking corticosteroids and 71 percent of children using beta-agonists to control asthma attacks exaggerate how often they take medication, according to a National Jewish Medical and Research Center study. Children who didn't follow prescription instructions had a significantly greater chance of having a severe asthma attack than children who took medication correctly

Pulling Strings To Build A Better Brain
A developing infant's brain may fold into a compact shape because its cells behave like rubber bands, says a Washington University scientist who presents his idea that mechanical tension might shape the brain in the Jan. 23 issue of Nature.

Engineering Animation, Inc. And EndoVascular Technologies, Inc. Bring The Power Of 3D Visualization To New Medical Procedures
Engineering Animation, Inc. (NASDAQ: EAII) is developing a software solution for EndoVascular Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: EVTI) that will initially be used to help revolutionize the treatment of unruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs).

Alcohol A Major Factor In Bicycling Injuries And Deaths
In a government-supported study of more than 300 fatal and non-fatal bicycle accidents, Johns Hopkins researchers found that alcohol was a factor in at least a third of the deaths

Key Step In Activating Immune System Discovered
A gene that plays a key role in activating the immune system -- and perhaps also in spurring on the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS -- has been discovered and cloned by researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Their findings will be reported in the 6 February issue of Nature

360-Degree Videocam Developed At Columbia
A Columbia University computer scientist, Shree Nayar, has developed a videocamera that sees in all directions at once. He has built four prototypes of the omnicam, for applications in interactive TV, teleconferencing, security and robotic vision, and will demonstrate them Jan. 30 in the Schapiro Center at Columbia.

Hopkins Researchers Identify Saethre-Chotzen Disease Gene
Johns Hopkins Children's Center scientists have identified TWIST as the disease gene causing Saethre-Chotzen syndrome, one of the most common genetic conditions with craniosynostosis, the early closure of the cranial sutures. Their findings, which also include the mapping of TWIST in the human genome, appear in the January issue of Nature Genetics.

Actuaries Assumptions In Public Retirement Systems Highly Accurate, New Study Says
First ever study of actuarial assumptions in public retirement systems shows high accuracy in actual to expected events ratios

ACTG 315 Preliminary Results: Drug Cocktail Restores Partial Immune Function
In-depth studies of immune function in people with moderately advanced HIV disease who were treated for three months with an antiretroviral drug cocktail show that immunity can be partially restored, according to preliminary results from an NIAID study

Logging Issues Not Clear Cut, Say Conservationists
An unlikely tool to save tropical forest wildlife may be the chainsaw, according to participants of a forest-diversity workshop, organized by the Wildlife Conservation Society. With logging regimes owning more forest land than all national parks combined, conservationists look toward forest departments and production forests to complement existing reserves

From Coast To Coast, FASTEX Is Probing Winter Storms Across The Atlantic
Powerful oceanic winter storms often occur in series, like the ones that recently raked Washington, Oregon, and California, and have their counterparts in the North Atlantic. Scientists are hot on their trail. A major field program involving NCAR, UCAR, and researchers from 11 countries straddles the Atlantic to study them.

Miniature Ecosystems Return From Space Station MIR
The Autonomouis Biological Systems arrival marks the beginning of the final phase of a four month experiment in which the aquatic miniworlds orbited the planet aboard MIR. They now undergo comprehensive tests of the effects of prolonged space flight onthe plants, animals and microbes in the ecosystems.

New Signature Of Black Holes Detected?
X-ray observations of a new black hole candidate contain what appears to be a unique signature predicted three years ago by physics Professor Robert V. Wagoner's astrophysics group at Stanford University. The signature may allow scientists to determine the mass and rotation rate of black holes with an unprecedented level of accuracy.

Meals On Wheels Clients At Risk For Iron Deficiency
Rural, homebound, elderly people, particularly women, who participate in Meals on Wheels Programs, are at risk for iron deficiency, a Penn State study has shown

HFES Technical Program Features State-Of-The-Art Human/Technology Research
Each fall, the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting features outstanding technical presentations describing how human factors/ergonomics research and applications work improves safety and usability in the design, testing, and maintenance of a broad range of tools, systems, and environments designed for human use. The 41st Annual Meeting will be held September 22-26 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Capital Punishment Decisions Hinge On Jurors Who May Not Understand Their Task
People called upon to sit on juries for capital crimes often do not understand the language of the law, the factors they are supposed to weigh in considering a sentence, or even that they have final responsibility for imposing punishment. New research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) seeks ways to improve the judgment of jurors who literally make life and death decisions

Behind The Scenes In The Pacific Northwest Flooding
The floods have crested and are beginning to recede in most places in the Pacific Northwest. Nevertheless dozens of U.S. Geological Survey personnel, who were busy over the holidays measuring the high streamflows and keeping river stage monitors operating, are still busy in the field and in their offices. Field crews have been hampered by mudslides, road closures, and extremely dangerous conditions. Many sites cannot be reached.

Visitors Can "Touch" Ancient Artifacts & Art Through Multimedia
In the hushed galleries of the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University in Atlanta, visitors can do more than just gaze passively at ancient artifacts and works of art. Through the

Johns Hopkins To Announce AIDS Capitated Care Program
Johns Hopkins has established the region's first AIDS care capitation program for patients covered by Medicaid, the state-supported health insurance plan. Also one of the first in the nation, the program will use Hopkins specialists and its network of sub-specialists to provide all health care to subscribers.

Would A Vaccine Against "Adenovirus" Prevent Some Cases Of Heart Failure And Sudden Death?
Would a vaccine against

Power Source Hidden In Galaxy Backs Theory On Quasars
A high-energy power source hidden inside a galaxy 660 million light years from Earth has provided new evidence supporting a theory that all such

Muscle Can Turn A Deaf Ear To Nerve, Study Finds
When nerves vie to be the only life-long partner of a muscle fiber, the fiber listens to one suitor, ignoring the others, which soon depart. If cells in the central nervous system behave this way, the finding could help explain how memories are soldered into the brain

NY Metropolitan Museum Of Art, Sandia National Laboratories Work Together To Preserve Statues And Infrastructure
Marble statues, the nation's bridges and tunnels, and cement blocks that entomb radioactive wastes share a common problem: limestone ingredients make them vulnerable to pitting from acid rain and spall- ing from freeze-thaw cycles that may follow. Sandia National Laboratories and the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art together are developing a coating to prolong the lives of these objects

Science Journal Publishes Study Showing Efficacy Of New Approach To Solid Tumor Treatment
Vascular Targeting Agents, a promising cancer therapy that interrupts blood supply necessary for tumor survival, is the subject of the Science study. The intravenous administration of the antibody-tissue factor complex to mice with large neuroblastomas resulted in complete tumor regressions in 38% of the mice and partial response rate of 24%

Scientists To Discuss Chemokine Receptor Research
Within the past year, a steady succession of studies have implicated molecules known as chemokine receptors as the long-sought co-factors that enable HIV to enter and infect immune system cells. Many scientists believe these findings could point the way toward more effective treatment and prevention strategies for HIV/AIDS.

Optical Sensor Measures Wind Direction Over Long Distances
A prototype, non-Doppler optical sensor that makes inexpensive, accurate measurements of crosswind speeds over long distances holds promise for chemical manufacturing, aviation safety and meteorology. The single-ended, long-path laser wind sensor registers faint wind movements that anemometers cannot measure

New Nonviral Gene Therapy System Could Help Fight Cancer
Researchers at Ohio University have invented a nonviral gene therapy system that could aid scientists in the search for a better treatment for cancer. The invention -- which received a U.S. Patent Jan. 7 -- allows genes to be expressed outside the nucleus of a cell, making it easier to get disease- fighting genes into tumor cells

Bigger Biology Tackled Through Keyboards
A relatively new field known as computational biology is providing powerful and necessary tools for studying ecology, genetics and evolution, infectious diseases, and immunology and virology.

Rudimentary Atom Laser Created At MIT
Physicists at MIT have built an elementary version of a laser that yields beams of atoms rather than beams of light. The MIT researchers have verified that their atom beam has an important property known as

Hubble Team Reveals A Stellar Odd Couple Among Thousands Of Suns In The Milky Way
Astronomers are shining new light on a stellar odd couple emitting intense radiation in both ultraviolet light and X- rays. Observations from the Hubble Space Telescope provide

Creatine Plus Carbohydrates May Help Performance
The bad publicity surrounding steroids shold not blind athletes to the potential of a natural substance, creatine, to boost performance, particularly when taken with extra carbohydrates 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