Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (January 2005)

Science news and science current events archive January, 2005.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from January 2005

Two self-fulfilling prophecies are stronger, and more harmful, than one
Time and again, research has demonstrated the power of an individual's self-fulfilling prophecies - if you envision yourself tripping as you walk across a stage, you will be more likely to stumble and fall. New evidence suggests that previous studies have underestimated not only the effect of our own negative prophecies, but also the power of others' false beliefs in promoting negative outcomes.

Research could help military leaders make better decisions under pressure
Research into how people make decisions while under pressure could help the U.S. military improve training for its leaders and lead to better decision-support systems. Studies have shown that when people process information, they develop unconscious strategies - or biases - that simplify their decisions. Now, research at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is revealing how these biases affect people when they're dealing with lots of information - and little time to form conclusions.

VCU research shows erectile dysfunction drug reduces death of heart cells in heart attack model
Virginia Commonwealth University researchers have shown that a widely used drug for treating erectile dysfunction, Viagra, reduces the death of heart cells under heart attack-like conditions in a laboratory model.

UBC prof's research challenges prevailing theory of how new species evolve
A research team lead by University of British Columbia zoology assistant professor Darren Irwin is the first in the world to demonstrate a genetic gradient--or path of gradually changing genetic traits--between two distinct species that have been isolated by distance. The research challenges the prevailing theory among evolutionary biologists that species evolve only when separated by a geographical barrier.

Collaborative care, training boosts adolescent depression treatment in primary care clinics
A model program featuring primary care physicians, nurses, and mental health providers working collaboratively to bring best-practice depression treatments into primary care clinics significantly improves health outcomes, quality of life, and depression care for adolescents (age 13-21).

Rebuilding wounded veterans: Annual review of limb loss & prosthetics research
The Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development (JRRD) has compiled a compendium of articles describing advances in limb loss and prosthetics research published in 2004. This research provides state-of-the-science knowledge, evidence-based rehabilitation practices, techniques, and devices that enable veterans and others with limb loss to improve their health outcomes, to participate in sports and leisure activities, and to perform the mundane activities of daily-living able-bodied people take for granted.

Heart patients treated by non-cardiologists less likely to receive medications
Patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) are less likely to be discharged from the hospital with a prescription for an ACE inhibitor and other recommended medications if they are treated by a non-cardiologist, according to a study written by pharmacists at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and published January 15 in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy.

Novel asthma study shows multiple genetic input required; single-gene solution shot down
A Harvard Medical School-led team found that wheezing -- a key physiological component of asthma -- requires the interaction of genes in several locations. The work, involving multiple independent verification, reinforces the complexity of the genetic predisposition to asthma, and by implication many other polygenic diseases. Knowing that multiple genetic interaction is required should aid in dissecting the genetic etiology of asthma in humans, while demonstrating the importance of animal models in advancing medical research.

New rights to access, but for most transparency is still as clear as mud
Two weeks after new public access rules came in under the UK Freedom of Information Act, precisely what is meant by transparency is still not clear or easily understood, according to leading academics and experts at the launch of the ESRC Public Services Programme at the British Academy.

Conference to examine effects of dietary supplements in patients taking blood thinning medications
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute will convene a conference this week to evaluate the risks of interactions between dietary supplements and prescription blood-thinning medications which are used by four million Americans to ward off heart attack or stroke. Experts from the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration will join academic, patient advocacy and industry representatives to assess current knowledge, identify strategies for clinical guidelines, and determine opportunities for further research.

DuPont electronic materials keep Mars rovers going one year later
One year to the month after Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars, the Rovers are still roaming the planet, sending back crystal-clear images of the Martian surface. Their durable parts help keep them going, enabled by DuPont science.

Choosing where to look - and changing your mind
Where we choose to look is fundamental to our interactions with other human beings. Although on some occasions we might wish to look someone straight in the eye, at other times we decide to avert gaze and look away. Sometimes the choice isn't straightforward, and we have to select between conflicting actions. Even if we do make a choice, we might subsequently change our mind and select an alternative response before it's too late.

Individualized medicine emerging from gene-environment studies
New understanding of the dynamic interplay between genes and environment, made possible by technologies arising from the Human Genome Project, helps support the individualization of medicine and makes focusing on racial or ethnic group differences in disease less relevant, say Penn State researchers.

Unique presentation of delirium after stem cell transplantation
In the first study of its kind, researchers say half of patients undergoing stem cell transplantation exhibit signs of delirium, but the warning signs are subtler and can be easily missed by clinicians. The study says the level of distress, fatigue, and pain are associated with the severity of delirium.

COX-2 levels are elevated in smokers
Tobacco smoke triggers the production of COX-2, a cellular protein linked to the development and progression of cancer, according to research published in the January 15 issue of the journal Cancer Research.

Scientists identify brain regions that decide where we look
Scientists have found the brain regions that decide where we look, and where to direct our eyes when we're faced with a difficult choice, such as looking someone straight in the eye or looking away.

Immune cells become potent cancer killers after genetic redirection
Scientists have made significant progress towards understanding how the immune system can be more specifically and efficiently targeted against cancer cells. The research, published in the January issue of Immunity, may provide the basis for development of a new, extensive immunotherapy for human tumors.

AAAS announces winners of the 2005 Fellowships for Reporters from Africa
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), in cooperation with its science-news Web site, EurekAlert!, The Global Alliance for Vaccines & Immunization (GAVI), The Vaccine Fund and the Rotavirus Vaccine Program (RVP), an affiliate of PATH, today announced winners of the prestigious 2005 Fellowships for Reporters from Africa.

Reduced progression of atherosclerosis tied to statin drugs lowering fats, protein
Aggressive therapy with statins -- drugs that inhibit cholesterol synthesis -- works better than moderate statin therapy in reducing fats and proteins in the blood that have been linked to atherosclerosis, a new multi-center study concludes. Statins' effects on both complex compounds appear beneficial in cutting patients' cardiovascular risks.

'Bumpy' glass could lead to self-cleaning windows, slick micromachines
Ohio State University engineers are designing super-slick, water-repellent surfaces that mimic the texture of lotus leaves. The patent-pending technology could lead to self-cleaning glass, and could also reduce friction between the tiny moving parts inside microdevices.

Researchers discover way to make cells in the eye sensitive to light
Researchers have discovered a way to make light sensitive cells in the eye by switching on a single gene.

Sunken tanker may help cleanup in future accidents
A model of the leak dynamics of the oil tanker, Prestige, that sunk off the coast of Spain in 2002, may help assess recovery and cleanup methods for future tanker accidents, according to an international team of researchers.

RelayHealth selected by Columbia University to link doctors and patients online
A new agreement between CPPN, Columbia University Medical Center's managed care organization, and RelayHealth. RelayHealth will provide software for secure physician-patient communication, enabling patients to use a secure website to schedule appointments, request prescription refills, as well as have online

New protein discovered by Hebrew University researchers
Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have succeeded in discovering and isolating a new protein from the poplar tree with special structural and qualitative characteristics that could have consequences for development of future nanocapsules for drug delivery to cancer cells.

Information fusion research simulates disasters to manage emergency response
Improving how decision-makers respond in the minutes and hours that follow the first reports of a natural disaster like the recent tsunami or a manmade incident, such as a chemical accident or a terrorist attack, is the focus of a research project at the University at Buffalo's Center for Multisource Information Fusion.

Sex habits of young women unchanged by morning after pill, UCSF study finds
Young, urban women showed no reduction in their use of contraceptives, nor any other changes in their sexual behavior when provided with easier access to the so-called

Scientists close in on 'superbrakes' for cars
A theoretical study of friction between solids that looks at the process just one molecule at a time could soon lead to a more effective way to stop cars in an emergency than simply slamming on the brakes or using ABS. This research is reported today in a special Einstein Year issue of the New Journal of Physics (
Scientists observe largest explosion in space
Scientists have observed the largest explosion in space, a finding that suggests that supermassive black holes - which produced the blast - are a bigger force to be reckoned with in the universe than previously thought.

Consumers to benefit from organic potato breakthrough
A team of European researchers, led by the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, have found ten varieties of potato which can be grown organically but have significant resistance to blight. Some are newly available on supermarket shelves. Designer composts, which increase yields up to 40 per cent, have also been discovered. This should lead to cheaper and more easily available organic potatoes. Results are being presented at a major UK conference co-hosted by the Soil Association.

XML-based language formats checklists for IT security
To make it easier to measure the security of an information technology product or system, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Security Agency (NSA) have developed a common specification language--Extensible Configuration Checklist Description Format (XCCDF)--for writing security checklists and related documents.

Astronomers: 'Bullet star' shines 350 times brighter than the sun
For decades, scientists have observed that Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo, spins much faster than the sun. But thanks to a powerful new telescopic array, astronomers now know with unprecedented clarity what that means to this massive celestial body.

Pro-inflammatory enzyme linked to diabetes; Immune system's macrophages may be key to treatment
An enzyme that initiates inflammation has been directly linked to insulin resistance and resulting type II diabetes by researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine. In addition, the team suggests that inhibition of the enzyme in the immune system's macrophages may be a new diabetes therapy.

Gene with broad role also causes prevalent, inherited nerve disorder
A gene that plays many fundamental roles in cells throughout the body has, for the first time, been implicated in human disease, according to researchers at the Duke Center for Human Genetics.

Hominids lose control
In the freely-available online journal PLoS Biology, a comparison of hominid and rodent lineages reveals that the gene control regions of hominids are not conserved and are accumulating mutations, suggesting widespread degradation of the hominid genome.

Shepherds whistle while they work and brains process sounds as language
The human brain's flexibility to understand a variety of signals as language extends to an unusual whistle language used by shepherds on one of the Canary Islands. And the way the brain processes these whistles is similar to the way it goes about deciphering English, Spanish or other spoken languages.

Organic molecules transport strongest spectral signature of interplanetary dust particles
Carbon and silicate grains in interplanetary dust particles are helping scientists solve a 40-year-old astronomical mystery.

Passive smoking in childhood may increase risk of lung cancer in later life
Children who are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (passive smoking) are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer as adults, says a paper in this week's BMJ.

NASA details earthquake effects on the Earth
NASA scientists using data from the Indonesian earthquake calculated it affected Earth's rotation, decreased the length of day, slightly changed the planet's shape, and shifted the North Pole by centimeters. The earthquake that created the huge tsunami also changed the Earth's rotation.

Brown scientists uncover inner workings of rare eye cells
Three years ago, Brown University researchers discovered new eye cells - indeed a parallel visual system. Now, in a report in Nature, they explain how these exotic cells harness light energy to do their chief job: setting the body's master circadian clock.

Annual mammogram, doctor visits are enough for breast cancer follow-up
Annual mammograms and doctor visits are the best follow-up strategy for women who have been treated for early stage breast cancer, according to a new review of recent research. The report suggests that more intensive lab tests like liver scans and molecular tumor markers do not improve the chances of detecting a recurrence of cancer or increase survival rates among former breast cancer patients.

By age 6, children of overweight mothers are also prone to obesity
By age six, children of overweight mothers are fifteen times more likely to be obese than children of lean mothers. The research, at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania, showed the strength of genetic influences, and suggests that efforts to prevent obesity should focus on such children at risk, preferably by four years of age.

Very shy children may process some facial expressions differently
Children who appear to have higher levels of shyness, or a particular gene, appear to have a different pattern of processing the signals of interpersonal hostility, according to a study in the January issue of The Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Flawed regulation leaves asylum seekers destitute says new research
Many asylum seekers in Leeds are destitute or homeless because of flaws in the benefits system according to researchers at the University of Leeds. The project, which was funded by ESRC, reveals that forced migrants in the city are often denied benefits and accommodation because of the time constraints imposed by section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act (2002), which is currently under review.

Lab experiments mimic a star's energy bursts
A key process that enhances the production of nuclear energy in the interior of dense stars has been re-created in the laboratory for the first time by physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The work may help scientists study topics such as nuclear fusion as a possible energy source and demonstrates a new method for studying and modeling dense stellar objects such as white dwarfs.

News tips from the Journal of Neuroscience
Highlights from this week's Journal of Neuroscience include locating one's self at the temporoparietal junction.

Thinking of prepositions turns brain 'on' in different ways
Parts of the human brain think about the same word differently, at least when it comes to prepositions, according to new language research in stroke patients conducted by scientists at Purdue University and the University of Iowa.

Living in a disadvantaged neighborhood may increase HIV risk
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that living in a disadvantaged urban neighborhood can increase male residents' risk of contracting HIV. The study related disadvantaged neighborhoods to stress and stress to increased injection drug use in male study participants.

NYU researchers simulate molecular biological clock
Researchers at New York University have developed a model of the intra-cellular mammalian biological clock that reveals how rapid interaction of molecules with DNA is necessary for producing reliable 24-hour rhythms. They also found that without the inherent randomness of molecular interactions within a cell, biological rhythms may dampen over time. These findings appeared in the most recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Study sheds light on cross-species infection for BSE
A study published early online by The Lancet provides an estimate of the compared efficiency of oral transmission of BSE to cattle and to man.

Auditory screening for newborns can be successful, UT Southwestern researchers report
Universal screening of newborns' hearing at large public hospitals, which annually deliver tens of thousands of babies, can be done more effectively when infants are not only tested four hours after birth - as required by many states - but also by rescreening those with a suspected problem before discharge and, if necessary, retesting infants at 10 days old, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers reported.

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