Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (January 2006)

Science news and science current events archive January, 2006.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from January 2006

University of Texas physicists put the squeeze on atoms
Like bakers measuring the exact same amount of flour every time they made bread, physicists at The University of Texas at Austin have used a laser trap to consistently capture and measure the same small number of atoms. Dr. Mark Raizen and his colleagues at the Center for Nonlinear Dynamics have been able to repeatedly capture as few as sixty atoms in a box made of lasers.

ESMO International Symposium on Prostate Cancer
The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) has just launched a new model of meetings, namely ESMO International Symposia (EIS) focusing on organ-based malignancies.

Health seriously declines, disparities increase as youths become adults
Can becoming an adult be hazardous to your health? A new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Carolina Population Center indicates that may be the case, with leading health indicators showing serious declines as adolescents become adults.

Mountain ranges rise dramatically faster than expected
Two new studies by a University of Rochester researcher show that mountain ranges rise to their height in as little as two million years -- several times faster than geologists have always thought. Each of the findings came from two pioneering methods of measuring ancient mountain elevations, and the results are in tight agreement.

U of M hosts business planning for pandemic influenza
The University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, together with the US and Minnesota Chambers of Commerce, are hosting a national summit to advise business and industry in planning for pandemic influenza. This summit is the first of its kind to bring together leaders from a cross section of business sectors and government agencies to determine how best to prepare for pandemic influenza.

Sandia to conduct regional energy/water workshop in Salt Lake City
Sandia National Laboratories will conduct a workshop in Salt Lake City Jan. 10-11, designed to help gauge future energy and water concerns.

Stanford study of owls finds link in brain between sight and sound
Two scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have taken a big step toward sorting out how the brain accomplishes this task. In the Jan. 19 issue of Nature, the researchers show that a mechanism for prioritizing information - previously reported only in primates - is also used by birds.

Measuring the size of a small, frost world
Observing a very rare occultation of a star by Pluto's satellite Charon from three different sites, including Paranal, home of the VLT, astronomers were able to determine with great accuracy the radius and density of the satellite to the farthest planet. The density, 1.71 that of water, is indicative of an icy body with about slightly more than half of rocks. The observations also put strong constraints on the existence of an atmosphere around Charon.

American Mathematical Society awards 2006 prizes
The American Mathematical Society (AMS) will present several major prizes on Friday, January 13, 2006, at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Antonio, Texas. These prizes, some of which are presented jointly with other mathematics organizations, are among the highest distinctions given in the field of mathematics.

Aspirin therapy may be safe for some survivors of brain hemorrhage
A study from the Stroke Service at Massachusetts General Hospital has found that some patients who have survived an intracerebral hemorrhage - a stroke caused by bleeding in the brain - may be safely treated with aspirin to prevent future heart attacks or strokes caused by blood clots.

Region of DNA strongly associated with Alzheimer's disease
An international team of researchers, led by investigators at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, are zeroing in on a gene that increases risk for Alzheimer's disease. They have identified a region of chromosome 10 that appears to be involved in risk for the disease that currently affects an estimated 4.5 million Americans.

Women with major depression at risk of relapse during pregnancy
Contrary to a common belief that the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy provide a protective effect against depression, women with major depression who discontinue antidepressant medication during pregnancy are at risk of relapse, according to a study in the February 1 issue of JAMA.

Armpit odour can exude women's fertility
Research published in the recent issue of Ethology has discovered that men are able to potentially use smell as a mechanism to establish when their current or prospective sexual partners are at their most fertile.

Three-week diet/exercise study shows 50 percent reversal in metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes
A UCLA study found the Pritikin diet and daily exercise reverses metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes in 50 percent of those with either condition, even without major weight loss. All participants showed significant health benefits after 21 days on the high-fiber, low-fat diet and 45-60 minutes of daily exercise. The results challenge the commonly held belief that individuals must normalize their weight before achieving health benefits.

Losing sleep undoes the rejuvenating effects new learning has on the brain
University of California and Stanford University researchers shed light on the role sleep plays in learning, showing that sleep-restricted rats had a lower rate of new cell survival in the hippocampus region of the brain than their rested counterparts. Ironically, a group of sleep-restricted rats given a non-memory task did better than their rested counterparts, suggesting there could be ways to design training regimens for chronically sleep-deprived people, including members of the military.

10 million 'missing' female births in India due to selective abortion
Over the past two decades around 10 million female fetuses may have been aborted in India, according to a study published online today (Monday January 9, 2006) by The Lancet.

Procedure allows women to freeze eggs to preserve future fertility
Researchers at the Yale Fertility Center are now offering a cutting edge reproductive procedure called oocyte cryopreservation that allows women to freeze their eggs and use them at a later time to conceive a child.

Divorce drops a person's wealth by 77 percent, study finds
A new nationwide study provides some of the best evidence to date of the devastating financial toll divorce can wreak on a person's wealth. The study of about 9,000 people found that divorce reduces a person's wealth by about three-quarters (77 percent) compared to that of a single person, while being married almost doubles comparative wealth (93 percent).

Jan/Feb Annals of Family Medicine tip sheet
This tip sheet reviews highlights of the Jan/Feb 2006 Annals of Family Medicine including topics such as the risk of state anger, diabetes diagnosis and management and the importance of quality measures.

How taste response is hard-wired into the brain
Instantly reacting to the sweet lure of chocolate or the bitter taste of strychnine would seem to demand that such behavioral responses be so innate as to be hard-wired into the brain. Indeed, in studies with the easily manipulable fruit fly Drosophila, Kristin Scott and colleagues reported in the January 19, 2006, issue of Neuron experiments demonstrating just such a hard-wired circuitry.

Study by Einstein researchers could lead to a novel strategy for treating obesity
In their latest finding on the brain's role in controlling appetite and weight, researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine have shown that reducing levels of fatty acids in the hypothalamus causes rats to overeat and become obese. Their results suggest that restoring fatty-acid levels in the brain may be a promising way to treat obesity.

Rutgers researchers create tiny chemical cages to enclose drug, pesticide molecules
Tiny chemical cages created by Rutgers researchers show potential for delivering drugs to organs or tissues where they're needed and making pesticides less hazardous to handle. These cage-like molecules measure a mere 3.2 nanometers wide. Researchers have shown a way to securely link component molecules together in a cage using an efficient, one-step process.

Vaccinate infants of hepatitis B mothers, say experts
Immunising newborn infants of mothers with hepatitis B prevents infection being transmitted from mother to child, finds a study published online by the BMJ today.

Milky Way galaxy is warped and vibrating like a drum
For 50 years, astronomers have puzzled over a mysterious warp in the Milky Way galaxy, as seen in the hydrogen gas embedded among the stars. A new map of gas by UC Berkeley astronomers shows that the warp is actually a combination of three vibrational notes, as if the gas were flapping in the wind. A model shows this is due to the Magellanic Clouds as they orbit the galaxy every 1.5 billion years.

Researchers confirm role of massive flood in climate change
First successful attempt to simulate the effect of flood into North Atlantic using state-of-the-art climate model shows that freshwater disrupted ocean circulation and Earth's climate; simulations confirmed by climate proxy record.

News Briefs from the January issue of CHEST
News briefs from the January issue of the journal CHEST highlight studies related to the SMART (salmeterol) trial, asthma prevalence and gender, and fish oil's effect on exercise-induced airway constriction.

Screening blood for West Nile virus
Screening all blood donations in all states to avoid transmission to blood transfusion recipients is not cost-effective according to a paper published in the open access journal PLoS Medicine.

Women's silent health problem: Study finds fecal incontinence is prevalent in US women
It's a topic that is discussed so infrequently - for reasons that are easy to understand - that it may seem it isn't much of a problem. But new research shows that fecal incontinence is prevalent among US women, especially those in older age groups, those who have had numerous babies, women whose deliveries were assisted by forceps or vacuum devices, and those who have had a hysterectomy.

ASM Biodefense Research Meeting
The American Society for Microbiology will host its 2006 Biodefense Research Meeting from February 15-18, 2006 at the Hyatt Regency Washington, DC.

Fitness counteracts cognitive decline from hormone-replacement therapy
Women pondering hormone-replacement therapy also should consider regular exercise. A new study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign suggests that being physically fit offsets cognitive declines attributed to long-term therapy.

Norman R. Augustine to receive 2006 Public Welfare Medal, Academy's highest honor
The National Academy of Sciences will present its most prestigious award, the Public Welfare Medal, to Norman R. Augustine, retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp.

UC San Diego partners with Venter Institute to build marine microbial genomics cyberinfrastructure
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has awarded $24.5 million over seven years to UC San Diego and J. Craig Venter Institute to create the Community Cyberinfrastructure for Advanced Marine Microbial Ecology Research and Analysis.

UK plans to cut street prostitution will threaten sex workers' health
Plans to cut street prostitution, set out by the UK government last week, will threaten sex workers' health, warn experts in this week's BMJ.

Alcohol advertising may contribute to increased drinking among young people
Young people who view more alcohol advertisements tend to drink more alcohol, according to a new study in the January issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA Archives journals.

Faults in newly discovered breast stem cells may lead to tumours
Victorian Breast Cancer Research Consortium scientists from The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, using a mouse model, have discovered the rare stem cell that drives the formation of all breast tissue. This discovery lays an important foundation for understanding how normal breast tissue develops. The identification of the breast stem cell is also likely to provide clues about how breast cancer develops and how rogue cells evade current therapies.

Tufts University receives federal grant to address occupational risks among immigrants
Tufts University has received a National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health grant to advance understanding of occupational health risks among immigrants. The grant will fund efforts by Tufts' School of Engineering and Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and community partners. Immigrants are exposed to a disproportionate share of environmental hazards. Aside from the human cost, there is a cost to society when immigrant occupational health and environmental health issues are not addressed.

Morning grogginess more debilitating than sleep deprivation, according to CU-Boulder study
A new University of Colorado at Boulder study shows that people who awaken after eight hours of sound sleep have more impaired thinking and memory skills than they do after being deprived of sleep for more than 24 hours.

Researchers identify major source of muscle repair cells
In a discovery with implications for treating muscular dystrophy, researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine and other institutions have identified a major source of two groups of adult cells that regulate muscle repair. The researchers found that these muscle repair cells, satellite and side population (SP) cells, arise from somites -- transient blocks of tissue in the embryo that give rise to muscle, vertebrae, and the inner layer of skin called the dermis.

Hedgehog protein blocks fat production, produces more bone
A protein that guides the early development of creatures as diverse as fruit flies and humans also plays a role in regulating fat and bone formation in adult organisms, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered.

Insects and mammals share common fat-building pathway, study suggests
When it comes to gaining fat, insects and mammals may have something in common, researchers report in the Jan. 11, 2006, Cell Metabolism. The study finds that the so-called hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway -- an ancient suite of genes involved in determining the fates of many cell types -- might also play an important role in fat formation in both flies and mice. The findings are the first to show a conserved effect of genes on fat storage from insects to mammals, according to the researchers.

Work stress leads to heart disease and diabetes
Stress at work is an important risk factor for the development of heart disease and diabetes, finds a study published online by the BMJ today.

Advancing the biomedical frontier: Experimental Biology 2006
More than 12,000 biological and biomedical scientists will gather for the Experimental Biology 2006 meeting at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, April 1-5. This annual meeting brings together scientists from dozens of scientific disciplines, from laboratory to translational to clinical research, from throughout the United States and the world.

Call for entries: 2006 Acoustics Writing Awards
To encourage the communication of acoustical science and engineering to the general public, the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) sponsors two annual awards for outstanding popular works on acoustics.

Robust monitoring is crucial to patient choice
The monitoring of care provided under the new patient choice scheme in England is poorly structured and variable, warn two ophthalmologists in this week's BMJ.

Rain gardens soak up urban storm water pollution
Properly designed

Newer football helmet design may reduce incidence of concussions in high school players
Newer football helmet technology and design may reduce the incidence of concussions in high school football players, according to a preliminary three-year study by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Sports Medicine Concussion Program. The study, published in Neurosurgery, compared concussion rates and recovery times of athletes wearing newer helmet technology to those wearing helmets with traditional design. There was no significant difference in recovery times between the two helmet groups, indicating that injury management is of critical importance.

MRIs better at diagnosing needs for 'bionic ear' implants
Magnetic resonance imaging is a better diagnostic tool for cochlear ear implants than the more commonly used high-resolution computed tomography, a UT Southwestern study shows.

Increased competition for pollen may lead to plant extinctions
The decline of birds, bees and other pollinators in the world's most diverse ecosystems may be putting plants in those areas at risk, according to new research. The finding raises concern that more may have to be done to protect Earth's most biologically rich areas, scientists say in an article appearing in the Jan. 17 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Magnetic spin details may lead to new devices
An unusual pool of scientific talent at the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, combined with new nanofabrication and nanocharacterization instruments, is helping to open a new frontier in electronics, to be made up of very small and very fast devices. A new discovery by this group opens a path to new computer and related devices, and could be driving entire industries into the future, the researchers say.

NIAID media availability: Understanding influenza infection
The current flu season is underway and much attention is focused on the recent outbreaks of a deadly avian influenza virus in Asia and southeastern Europe. Understanding how influenza viruses cause infection and how the human immune system attempts to fight off the invaders offers a basis for developing new influenza vaccines and treatments that could potentially combat seasonal influenza or worse, a global pandemic.

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