Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (January 2013)

Science news and science current events archive January, 2013.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from January 2013

Red explosions: The secret life of binary stars is revealed
A University of Alberta professor has revealed the workings of a celestial event involving binary stars that results in an explosion so powerful it ranks close to supernovae in luminosity.

Beta carotene may protect people with common genetic risk factor for type-2 diabetes
Stanford University School of Medicine investigators have found that for people harboring a genetic predisposition that is prevalent among Americans, beta carotene, which the body converts to a close cousin of vitamin A, may lower the risk for the most common form of diabetes, while gamma tocopherol, the major form of vitamin E in the American diet, may increase risk for the disease.

Innovative uses of nanotechnology in food and agriculture
The US Department of Agriculture invests nearly $10 million a year to support about 250 nanoscale science and engineering projects that could lead to revolutionary advances in agriculture and food systems.

Evolution inspires more efficient solar cell design
Using a mathematical model based on natural evolution, Northwestern University researchers have developed an organic solar cell design that could pave the way for more efficient, less expensive solar energy.

An important LINC in human hearing
In this issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Karen Avraham and colleagues at Tel Aviv University identified a genetic mutation in two families with hereditary high frequency hearing loss.

Next-generation adaptive optics brings remarkable details to light in stellar nursery
A new image released today reveals how Gemini Observatory's most advanced adaptive optics system will help astronomers study the universe with an unprecedented level of clarity and detail by removing distortions due to the Earth's atmosphere.

Genetic mystery of Behcet's disease unfolds along the ancient Silk Road
Researchers have identified four new regions on the human genome associated with Behcet's disease, a painful and potentially dangerous condition found predominantly in people with ancestors along the Silk Road. National Institutes of Health researchers and their Turkish and Japanese collaborators published their findings in the Jan. 6, 2013, advance online issue of Nature Genetics.

'Connection error' in the brains of anorexics
When people see pictures of bodies, a whole range of brain regions are active. This network is altered in women with anorexia nervosa. In a functional magnetic resonance imaging study, two regions that are important for the processing of body images were functionally more weakly connected in anorexic women than in healthy women. The stronger this

Scientists discover that for Australia the long-beaked echidna may not be a thing of the past
The western long-beaked echidna, one of the world's five egg-laying species of mammal, became extinct in Australia thousands of years ago... or did it? Smithsonian scientists and colleagues have found evidence suggesting that not only did these animals survive in Australia far longer than previously thought, but that they may very well still exist in parts of the country today.

The brain of the ampelosaur from Cuenca (Spain) revealed
The differences with the only species of the genus known so far suggest that it could be a new species. The remains, which are about 70 million years old, were found at the site of Lo Hueco (Cuenca, Spain).

Scientists discover 'needle in a haystack' for muscular dystrophy patients
Muscular dystrophy is caused by the largest human gene, a complex chemical leviathan that has confounded scientists for decades. Research conducted at the University of Missouri and described this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has identified significant sections of the gene that could provide hope to young patients and families

Genetics plays major role in victimization in elementary school
Genetics plays a major role in peer rejection and victimization in early elementary school, according to a study recently published on the website of the journal Child Development by a team directed by Dr. Michel Boivin, a research professor at Université Laval's School of Psychology.

'Navigating Life with a Brain Tumor'
Empowering patients during the course of their treatment is the goal of a new book, Navigating Life with a Brain Tumor, written by neuro-oncologists from Mayo Clinic in Arizona and Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

Researchers prevent cancer spread by blocking tissue scarring
What to fear most if faced by a cancer diagnosis is the spread of the cancer to other parts of the body. Metastasis accounts for over 90 percent of cancer patient deaths. Researchers at BRIC, University of Copenhagen have shown that the enzyme Lysyl Oxidase (LOX) can create a

Marginal lands are prime fuel source for alternative energy
Marginal lands--those unsuited for food crops--can serve as prime real estate for meeting the nation's alternative energy production goals. In the current issue of the journal Nature, scientists at Michigan State University and other institutions show that marginal lands are a huge untapped resource for growing mixed-species cellulosic biomass.

Costly breast cancer screenings don't add up to better outcomes
Even though Medicare spends over $1 billion per year on breast cancer screenings such as a mammography, there is no evidence that higher spending benefits older women, researchers at Yale School of Medicine found in a study published Online First by JAMA Internal Medicine, a JAMA Network publication.

Inaccurate diagnoses of melanoma by smartphone apps could delay doctor visits, life-saving treatment
Smartphone applications that claim to evaluate a user's photographs of skin lesions for the likelihood of cancer instead returned highly variable and often inaccurate feedback, according to a study led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The findings, published in JAMA Dermatology and available online today, suggest that relying on these

Measuring genomic response to infection leads to earlier, accurate diagnoses
Duke researchers are looking to genomic technologies -- not the isolation of bacteria or viruses -- to quickly detect and diagnose infectious diseases such as the flu and staph.

UCI research turns the corner on autism
The Center for Autism Research & Treatment is launching an innovative drug discovery effort uniting multidisciplinary campus scientists in a common purpose: to develop an effective pharmaceutical therapy for the core deficits of autism.

Bacterial supplement could help young pigs fight disease
Weaning is a time of stress and a lack of energy for pigs. Energy produced by a special type of gut bacteria could help pigs fight pathogens and stay healthy. This new research may have implications for human health.

Biologists unlock 'black box' to underground world
A BYU biologist is part of a team of researchers that has unlocked the

Residents near Chinese e-waste site face greater cancer risk
Residents living near an e-waste recycling site in China face elevated risks of lung cancer.

Yaks are back
A team of American and Chinese conservationists from the Wildlife Conservation Society and University of Montana recently counted nearly 1,000 wild yaks from a remote area of the Tibetan-Qinghai Plateau. The finding may indicate a comeback for this species, which was decimated by overhunting in the mid 20th century.

Best evidence yet that dinosaurs used feathers for courtship
A University of Alberta researcher's examination of fossilized dinosaur tail bones has led to a breakthrough finding: some feathered dinosaurs used tail plumage to attract mates, much like modern-day peacocks and turkeys.

Stopping smoking reduces risk of bacterial pneumonia in people with HIV
Bacterial pneumonia is one of the commonest and most serious infections occurring in people infected with HIV. A metanalysis of cohort and case control studies published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Medicine finds that current smokers with HIV were at double the risk of bacterial pneumonia than non-smoking counterparts, but that when people stopped smoking their risk was reduced.

Marginal lands are prime fuel source for alternative energy
Marginal lands ­-- those unsuited for food crops -- can serve as prime real estate for meeting the nation's alternative energy production goals. In Nature, a team of researchers led by MSU shows that marginal lands represent a huge untapped resource to grow mixed species cellulosic biomass, plants grown specifically for fuel production, which could annually produce up to 5.5 billion gallons of ethanol in the Midwest alone.

Wayne State University researcher to evaluate success of text message diabetes intervention
A Wayne State University researcher has received a combined $36,000 in grants from the Southeastern Michigan Health Association and Greater Cincinnati HealthBridge, Inc. to help determine the success of a Type 2 diabetes intervention program currently being piloted in southeast Michigan, greater Cincinnati and New Orleans.

Active duty military personnel prone to sleep disorders and short sleep duration
A new study found a high prevalence of sleep disorders and a startlingly high rate of short sleep duration among active duty military personnel. The study suggests the need for a cultural change toward appropriate sleep practices throughout the military.

Protein recognition and disorder: A debate
Two articles published today in F1000 Biology Reports debate whether protein recognition can occur in the absence of stable structure.

New stroke gene discovery could lead to tailored treatments
An international study led by King's College London has identified a new genetic variant associated with stroke. By exploring the genetic variants linked with blood clotting -- a process that can lead to a stroke -- scientists have discovered a gene which is associated with large vessel and cardioembolic stroke but has no connection to small vessel stroke.

F1000Research articles will be listed in PubMed, and deposited in PubMed Central
F1000Research, the first Open Science publisher, announces that articles published in its innovative publishing system will be listed in PubMed, the world's largest and most-used biomedical literature database.

Key elements in preventing homophobic bullying in schools
How are non-heterosexual people affected by discrimination endured in the school environment due to their affective-sexual orientation? This question was the starting point in the Ph.D. thesis produced by the researcher Aitor Martxueta.

Biofuels blend right in
A collaboration by researchers with the Joint BioEnergy Institute and the Idaho National Laboratory has shown that blending different feedstocks and milling the mixture into flour or pellets has significant potential for helping to make biofuels a cost-competitive transportation fuel technology.

Survival of the prettiest: Sexual selection can be inferred from the fossil record
Detecting sexual selection in the fossil record is not impossible, according to scientists writing in Trends in Ecology and Evolution this month, co-authored by Dr. Darren Naish of the University of Southampton.

Study: Husbands who do more traditionally female housework have less sex
Married men who spend more time doing traditionally female household tasks -- including cooking, cleaning, and shopping -- report having less sex than husbands who don't do as much, according to a new study in the Feb. issue of the American Sociological Review.

Global research team decodes genome sequence of 90 chickpea lines
Decoded genome of chickpea, a leading grain legume for many poor smallholder farmers, promises improved livelihoods in marginal environments.

Scientists create 1-step gene test for mitochondrial diseases
More powerful gene-sequencing tools have increasingly been uncovering disease secrets in DNA within the cell nucleus. Now a research team is expanding those rapid next-generation sequencing tests to analyze a separate source of DNA -- within the genes inside mitochondria, cellular power plants, when abnormal, contribute to complex, multisystem diseases.

How prostate cancer therapies compare by cost and effectiveness
The most comprehensive retrospective study ever conducted comparing how the major types of prostate cancer treatments stack up to each other in terms of saving lives and cost effectiveness is reported this week by a team of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.

New look at cell membrane reveals surprising organization
A new way of looking at a cell's surface reveals the distribution of small molecules in the cell membrane, changing the understanding of its organization. A novel imaging study by researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the University of Illinois and the National Institutes of Health revealed some unexpected relationships among molecules within cell membranes.

Discovering the secrets of tumor growth
Scientists at the University of Copenhagen's Center for Healthy Ageing have identified a compound that blocks the expression of a protein without which certain tumors cannot grow. This compound has potential as an anticancer agent according to the research published in the journal Chemistry & Biology this week.

U Alberta researchers move Barkhausen Effect forward
Almost 100 years after the initial discovery, a team of scientists at the University of Alberta and the National Institute for Nanotechnology in Edmonton have harnessed the Barkhausen Effect as a new kind of high-resolution microscopy for the insides of magnetic materials.

CSHL neuroscientists pinpoint location of fear memory in amygdala
One of the neuroscience groups at CSHL has shed new light on the brain circuit that is involved in fear learning, memory, responses. They show that fear memory is encoded in a subdivision of the central amygdale. In addition, a particular class of neurons, somatostatin-positive neurons, is required to translate that memory into fear responses.

UCSB research provides insight into mechanics of arthritis
A new, noninvasive, and low-cost method for the early detection and monitoring of osteoarthritis (arthritis caused by wear and tear) may be on its way, thanks to research by UC Santa Barbara scientists from the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Department of Materials.

Less reaction to DTaP vaccine given in kids' thighs than arms
Children age 12 to 35 months who receive DTaP vaccine in their thigh muscle rather than their arm are around half as likely to be brought in for medical attention for an injection-site reaction. So says a new study of 1.4 million children at Group Health and seven other Vaccine Safety Datalink centers across the country, e-published on Jan. 14 in Pediatrics. These local reactions are the most common side effect of vaccinations.

Cities affect temperatures for thousands of miles
Even if you live more than 1,000 miles from the nearest large city, it could be affecting your weather. New research shows that the heat generated by everyday activities in metropolitan areas influences major atmospheric systems, raising and lowering temperatures over thousands of miles.

Early surgical menopause linked to declines in memory and thinking skills
Women who undergo surgical menopause at an earlier age may have an increased risk of decline in memory and thinking skills, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 65th Annual Meeting in San Diego, March 16-23, 2013. Early surgical menopause is the removal of both ovaries before natural menopause and often accompanies a hysterectomy.

Telephone physiotherapy reduces waiting times and provides equally good patient results
A physiotherapy service based on initial telephone assessment has the ability to provide faster access to the service and cut waiting times, a study published today on bmj.com suggests.

4,000-year-old shaman's stones discovered near Boquete, Panama
Archaeologists working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama have discovered a cluster of 12 unusual stones in the back of a small, prehistoric rock-shelter near the town of Boquete. The cache represents the earliest material evidence of shamanistic practice in lower Central America.

How computers push on the molecules they simulate
Simulations are essential to test theories and explore what's inaccessible to direct experiment. Digital computers can't use exact, continuous equations of motion and have to slice time into chunks, so persistent errors are introduced in the form of

Notre Dame astronomers find massive supply of gas around modern galaxies
Galaxies have a voracious appetite for fuel -- in this case, fresh gas -- but astronomers have had difficulty finding the pristine gas that should be falling onto galaxies. Now, scientists have provided direct empirical evidence for these gas flows using new observations from the Hubble Space Telescope.

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