Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (January 2003)

Science news and science current events archive January, 2003.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from January 2003

Deepest wide-field colour image in the southern sky
The combined efforts of three European teams of astronomers, targeting the same sky field in the southern sky, have enabled them to construct a very deep, true-colour image, opening an exceptionally clear view towards the distant universe. The image covers an area somewhat larger than the full moon and displays more than 100,000 galaxies, several thousand stars and hundreds of quasars. It was obtained with a wide-field camera at the ESO La Silla Observatory (Chile).

Chaos in the heart
Scientists at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin and the University of Barcelona have discovered that chaotic behavior in chemical reactions and heart fibrillation can be selectively influenced and suppressed.

TSRI professor named industry pioneer in one of the top ten technologies that will change future
The Scripps Research Institute today announced that Professor James Paulson, Ph.D., has been chosen as a global leader in the field of glycomics by Technology Review, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's magazine of innovation. The magazine's February 2003 issue identifies ten emerging technologies it says will change the world. It is on newsstands January 21 and online now at http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/emerging0203.asp.

Physics tip sheet #32 - January 23, 2003
Highlights of this issue include new best limits on photon mass, disappearing antineutrinos in the first results from KAMLand, fastest possible flipping of magnets for memory, and how obstacles could actually improve mobile communications. Also included are reports on the

Bridge Bedside Scanning System, patient safety--focus of HIMSS book award, educational session, etc.
Attendees at the 2003 HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) meeting -- scheduled for Feb. 9-13 -- will have ample opportunity to learn more about MedPoint(tm), Bridge Medical's award-winning barcode-enabled point-of-care (BPOC) patient safety software.

South Pole telescope follows trail of neutrinos into deepest reaches of the universe
A unique telescope buried in Antarctic ice promises unparalleled insight into such extraordinary phenomena as colliding black holes, gamma-ray bursts, the violent cores of distant galaxies and the wreckage of exploded stars.

Psychoanalysts to convene winter 2003 meeting
The Winter 2003 Meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) will be held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York City from January 21-26, 2003. Of particular note is the meeting's second annual poster session,

Amazon wildfires contribute to carbon problem
More trees are dying following forest fires in the Amazon than was previously thought according to new research from the University of East Anglia (UEA). Trees that initially appear to survive fires, such as those caused by El NiƱo, are in fact dying two to three years later, increasing carbon emissions and causing further loss of Amazonian vegetation.

Minimum smallpox vaccination is best strategy for now, experts say
The current smallpox vaccination policy of vaccinating a very limited number of first responders to a potential smallpox outbreak and avoiding mass vaccination is the best vaccination strategy, say two smallpox experts in an article in Annals of Internal Medicine. The article is posted on journal's web site
Research project promises faster, cheaper and more reliable microchips
A project between academia and industry is aiming to spark a world electronics revolution by producing faster, cheaper and more reliable microchips. The University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, has joined forces with Atmel, on North Tyneside in the North East of England, to create 'strained silicon' microchips, which involves adding a material called germanium to the traditional silicon used in semiconductor manufacturing.

For spinal cord injury patients, new insights for rehabilitation therapy
Researchers study patients with spinal cord injuries for clues to vascular changes and rehabilitation options.

Family history influences sexual behavior in black, Hispanic teens
Black teenagers, sons of men who became teenage fathers, were three times more likely to be sexually active compared with those whose fathers had not been teen dads, according to a new study.

Wetlands clean selenium from agricultural runoff
UC Berkeley researchers have found that man-made wetland ponds removed nearly 70 percent of the selenium in contaminated agricultural drainage water. The new study, published in Environmental Science and Technology, shows that wetlands are a natural ally in efforts to clean selenium-contaminated farm runoff. Selenium has been linked to severe deformities in birds and other wildlife at the Kesterson refuge in California's San Joaquin Valley.

Researchers find enzyme that triggers hardening of the arteries
An enzyme found only in the liver and intestines may play a crucial role in the development of hardening of the arteries -- or atherosclerosis, a research team from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco, report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Physics tip sheet #30 - January 9, 2003
Highlights of this issue include non-invasively measuring bone strength, understanding birdsong, improving MRI resolution and fine writing with atoms. Also included are stories about mortality plateaus, hot spots in Venus' atmosphere, modeling genome growth and measuring neutrino properties.

Cloned pigs behave like...pigs
Some people would like to clone their pets. A study at Texas A&M University indicates that cloning may not produce exact copies of pets or any other animals.

Suppressing immune system reverses otherwise untreatable case of blood disease
Treatment with two medications that suppress the immune system, rituximab and cyclophosphamide, appears to have cured one woman of an otherwise untreatable case of the blood disease known as thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP). The findings support the theory that TTP is an autoimmune disease, and not only provide insight into diagnosis and treatment, but also reveal clues about blood clotting and autoimmune diseases in general.

Red alert over rare species
The well-known

Food fortification spurred by military purchases
Food fortification with vitamins and minerals is one of the most effective methods to improve health and prevent nutritional deficiencies. New research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests that developing nations could implement successful food fortification programs by requiring fortified foods for their military personnel.

Scientists explain formation of stone circles and other strange patterns in northern regions
Perfect circles of stones cover the ground in parts of Alaska and the Norwegian islands of Spitsbergen. Elsewhere in the far north, stones form other striking patterns on the ground: polygons, stripes, islands, and labyrinths. According to scientists who have studied the phenomenon, cyclic freezing and thawing of the ground drives simple feedback mechanisms that generate these remarkable patterns.

Scientists identify hundreds of worm genes that regulate fat storage
Scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital and their colleagues have scoured thousands of genes in the C. elegans worm and have come up with hundreds of promising candidates that may determine how fat is stored and used in a variety of animals. The findings represent the first survey of an entire genome for all genes that regulate fat storage.

Scientific society seeks minority students for scholarship program
The American Chemical Society is seeking minority applicants for its Scholars Program. Deadline for application is February 15, 2003. Up to 100 scholarships will be awarded.

NPF says FDA approval of new psoriasis drug signals new era of care
The National Psoriasis Foundation issued a statement today in support of the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval of the first biologic drug to treat psoriasis. The FDA has approved Biogen's alefacept (brand name Amevive) to treat moderate to severe psoriasis.

New mobile lab aims to bolster bioscience education
In an innovative effort to help high school bioscience education keep pace with fast-moving research advances, the nation's newest and largest mobile bioscience lab, the MdBioLab, will be launched in early February.

Astronomers identify new type of star
Astronomers Steve B. Howell of the University of California, Riverside and Tom Harrison of New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, announced today at the American Astronomical Society Meeting in Seattle, Wash., that they have confirmed the existence of a new variety of stellar end-product. This previously unknown type of star has some properties similar to brown dwarf stars and may help astronomers understand some of the recently discovered extra-solar planets in close proximity to their suns.

Newly discovered cellular process helps cells respond to DNA damage
Scientists at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital have discovered a novel biochemical process that plays a critical role in helping cells in the body respond to DNA damage, such as that caused by exposure to radiation, environmental toxins or free radicals. The findings could lead to new approaches to prevent cancer, better ways to treat cancer and to the development of sensitive methods determining whether people have been exposed to radiation or environmental toxins.

Hitchhiking rocks provide details of glacial melting in West Antarctic
The West Antarctic Ice Sheet has been melting and contributing water continuously to the ocean for the last 10,000 years and is likely to keep doing so, according to scientists who have gathered the most direct evidence yet that parts of the ice sheet are on a long-term, natural trajectory of melting.

Ways to reduce death in schools focus of National Center for Early Defibrillation forum
To help reduce the mortality of sudden cardiac arrest in school athletes and adults, the National Center for Early Defibrillation is hosting an issues forum,

Evolution of galaxy-spanning magnetic fields explained
Researchers at the University of Rochester have uncovered how giant magnetic fields up to a billion, billion miles across, such as the one that envelopes our galaxy, are able to take shape despite a mystery that suggested they should collapse almost before they'd begun to form. Astrophysicists have long believed that as these large magnetic fields grow, opposing small-scale fields should grow more quickly, thwarting the evolution of any giant magnetic field.

Viagra risks cut down by one as study finds blood flow in eyes unaffected by sex drive drug
When Viagra was introduced in 1999, the drug's manufacturer warned of a number of visual side effects, including possible nerve damage to the eyes. But a UC Irvine College of Medicine study rules out some of these risks -- even when the drug is taken in high doses.

Finding life away from Earth will be tough task, says noted paleontologist
Earth's most ancient fossils are hard to find, and finding evidence of life somewhere other than Earth promises to be as challenging, says a noted University of Washington astrobiologist.

World Health Organization anticancer initiatives - Where next?
The race to appoint the next head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has begun, but will cancer be a priority for the new Director General? This question is addressed in the January issue of TLO.

SD Supercomputer Center researchers find unnecessary traffic saturating a key Internet 'root' server
Scientists at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UCSD analyzing traffic to one of the 13 Domain Name System (DNS)

Most ecstasy-related deaths occur among white males
Most people who die after taking ecstasy are white males in their late twenties, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

Depression and chronic pain linked in Stanford study; may influence diagnosis and treatment
A persistent, long-lasting headache or an endlessly painful back may indicate something more serious than a bad week at the office. A new study finds that people who have major depression are more than twice as likely to have chronic pain when compared to people who have no symptoms of depression. This study could change how depression is diagnosed and treated, say Stanford School of Medicine researchers.

News & Ideas: Nanotechnology
This edition of News & Ideas is devoted to two Rensselaer materials science and engineering researchers who have recently made back-to-back breakthroughs in the areas of nanotechnology. The unprecedented work of Pulickel Ajayan and G. Ramanath has appeared in recent months in renowned journals, including Nature and Science. Contact information for one or both researchers appears at the end of each story.

Study finds more than 1 in 10 pregnant women drink alcohol
Fifteen percent of women taking part in a study in southeastern Michigan drank alcohol during their pregnancies, although most of the women report drinking only one drink or less each week, new research finds.

UCLA study finds surgeon experience level critical
A national study found that the number of surgical procedures a physician performs has a significant impact on in-hospital complications and length of hospital stay in older men receiving a radical prostatectomy -- a common procedure to remove the prostate gland in men with prostate cancer. The study, reported in the February 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, focused on men 65 and older undergoing the procedure.

Mouse genetic model for spongiform brain diseases
Some mice with a genetic mutation for mahogany-colored coats also develop spongiform degeneration of brain tissue, similar to mad cow disease, making them valuable animal models to study Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease in humans, according to geneticists at Cornell and Stanford universities. (Science, Jan. 31, 2003)

More women quit smoking during pregnancy, but not before and after
More women are quitting smoking during pregnancy but smoking trends before and after pregnancy are less encouraging, according to a study of more than 100,000 women.

Structure of cog at the hub of metabolism reveals anti-ageing function
The structure of a key energy-releasing enzyme found in all animals is designed to minimise free radical production, an international team of researchers report in the journal Science today.

Scientists find first active 'jumping genes' in rice
University of Georgia researchers studying rice genomes under a National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research Program award have identified the species' first active DNA transposons, or

Positive response to epilepsy medication does not ensure good prognosis
Contrary to common belief, early successful treatment and control of epileptic seizures with appropriate medications does not necessarily guarantee that seizures will always be controlled by those medications in the future, according to a study published in the January 28 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Possibility that up to a quarter of intimate examinations by trainees are conducted without consent
A survey of medical students in this week's BMJ suggests that as many as a quarter of the intimate examinations, which they performed on anaesthetised patients, are carried out without adequate consent from the patient.

Companies must find ways to retain middle-aged managers
Government and companies must find ways to secure the continued contribution of key experienced workers in their late middle-age, says a study sponsored by the ESRC. If early retirement options vanish, work itself may need to be restructured to harness the needs, aptitudes and talents of these older workers, say the researchers, led by Professor Lorna McKee of Aberdeen University Business School.

Young plant's natural defenses amount to more than just its seed
For a young plant, growing up may not be quite as risky as scientists once believed. According to Rockefeller University research, newborn plants have a second chance to hold off on growth after breaking through their seed coats. This developmental arrest, or checkpoint, offers protection against the possibility that a plant accidentally sprouts or

Bupropion may help schizophrenic patients quit smoking
Smokers diagnosed with schizophrenia had higher smoking cessation rates when treated with bupropion than with a placebo, according to a study led by Dr. Tony George at Yale University. Bupropion is a medication used to help people quit smoking and to treat depression.

Prehistoric tusks point to earliest fossil evidence of differences between sexes
The large tusks of an animal that roamed Earth before the dinosaurs may provide the earliest evidence yet of male-female distinctions in land animals that existed millions of years ago, say U of T scientists.

Study employs backyard scientists to document global warming impact
The flora and fauna are sending signals about the impact of global warming - a message that is being heard in backyards around the world. A study in the Jan. 2 edition of Nature synthesized data from 143 scientific papers to examine whether a signal, or

Chromosome assessment could predict increased risk of death from age-related disease
US authors of a research letter in this week's issue of The Lancet highlight how the measurement of the ends of chromosomes in older people could give an indication of their relative risks of dying from age-related diseases.

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