Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (July 2004)

Science news and science current events archive July, 2004.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from July 2004

To Mars and beyond: UH researchers participate in rocket research
Edgar Bering and Michael Brukardt from UH are among authors of an award-winning technical paper that presents results of research at NASA Johnson Space Center surrounding the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR). A prototype spacecraft electric propulsion system intended for large high-power missions to Mars and beyond, VASIMR's main goal is for manned Mars missions. It also can be used for big robotic missions and be put to civilian use in commercial passenger spacecraft.

Teen birth rate down, youth less likely to be involved in violent crimes
The well-being of America's children has shown strong gains in some areas but has declined in others, according to a yearly report by federal agencies compiling statistics on children.

Scientists build on case connecting inflammatory disease and depression
Feeling sick can be

Gene defects found in age-related macular degeneration
Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researchers have identified subtle defects in a single gene that underlie a hereditary form of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in the developed world.

Warren Pharmaceuticals publishes results of preclinical evaluation
Warren and its collaborators have synthesized molecules exhibiting only the tissue-protective effects of EPO. This permits the administration of and sustained use in non-anemic patients without the appearance of classical EPO side effects. This new work demonstrates that these molecules provide neuroprotection while showing no erythropoietic activity nor interfering with the body's natural ability to produce red blood cells.

Stem-cell research and reproductive cloning laws should be separate
The author of a Public Policy article in this week's issue of THE LANCET discusses recent failures of international organisations to establish clear policies with regard to stem-cell research and reproductive cloning. This will have implications for research scientists who will not be clear about the type of research programmes that could be publicly funded or that are legally permissible in the near future.

UGA named recipient of $5.6 million grant from NSF for corn improvement
Corn is by far the most important cereal grain grown in the United States, and a project at the University of Georgia that could one day lead to the development of artificial corn chromosomes has just been awarded a five-year grant by the National Science Foundation for $5.6 million.

Eating broiled, baked fish may lower incidence of irregular heart rhythm in the elderly
Eating broiled or baked fish - but not fried fish or fish sandwiches - appears to lower the incidence of the most common irregular heartbeat among the elderly, according to a study published in today's rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Research shows aspirin therapy didn't work in almost half of stroke patients studied
Northwestern Memorial researchers have found that nearly half of patients who suffered a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) after having been committed to aspirin therapy were

Scientific publications: Time for change
Changes in scientific publishing are

Another fringe benefit for highly paid employees: More fun at work
Highly paid workers aren't just reaping the greatest material rewards on the job - they are also more likely than lower-paid employees to report rich social lives among their co-workers. A new study found that highly paid workers reported more cohesion and solidarity among their colleagues and were more likely to participate in social activities with co-workers.

Aging population, longer survival with disease magnify heart failure 'epidemic'
Heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalization among persons 65 and older, and admissions for its symptoms have increased by 155 percent over the last 20 years. This raises concerns about an epidemic that involves more new cases of heart failure. But improved survival with heart failure, not an increase in disease rates, is responsible for this epidemic of hospital admissions, according to findings of a Mayo Clinic study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

NASA's Aura satellite launch postponed
The launch of NASA's Aura spacecraft atop a Boeing Delta II rocket from California has been delayed for at least 24 hours. Launch will occur no earlier than Wednesday, July 14, with a three-minute window at 6:01:59 a.m. EDT (3:01:59 a.m. PDT).

URI physical oceanographers receive grant to improve predictions of hurricane intensity
URI Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) physical oceanographers Drs. Isaac Ginis, Il Ju Moon, and Tetsu Hara have received a three-year $412,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to incorporate into current computer models the impact of surface waves on the interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere, and, consequently, how this interaction affects hurricane intensity, track, wind waves, and ocean prediction.

Cardiologists studying new screening test for heart disease
A multi-center study led by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center cardiologist David M. Herrington, M.D., M.H.S., suggests that measuring the stiffness of arteries to screen for early atherosclerosis may be another way to identify people at risk for heart disease or stroke.

Researchers discover how worms' noses sense oxygen
UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco scientists have discovered how the nematode C. elegans senses oxygen in the world around it. Three neurons in the worm's nose contain an enzyme that binds oxygen and triggers avoidance of low as well as high oxygen levels. Interestingly, clustering of lab-grown nematodes turns out not to be social behavior, but a strategy for finding the mid-range oxygen levels the worm prefers.

Enhanced LEDs promise to transform lighting
A research team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has created a new type of reflector that has dramatically improved LED (light-emitting diodes) luminance. The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded the research team a three-year, $210,000 grant to move the patented omni-directional reflector to market.

Drug reduces heart damage caused by potent, highly effective childhood leukemia treatment
A potent chemotherapy that is highly effective in treating the most common form of childhood leukemia can significantly harm the heart, but findings from a multi-center study led by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers suggest that adding an experimental drug to the therapy can reduce or prevent the damage.

Songbirds escaped from Australasia, conquered rest of world
A comprehensive study of DNA from songbirds and their relatives shows that these birds, which account for almost half of all bird species, did not originate in Eurasia, as previously thought. Instead, their ancestors escaped from a relatively small area--Australasia (Australia, New Zealand and nearby islands) and New Guinea--about 45 million years ago and went on to populate every other continent save Antarctica.

'Cool' fuel cells could revolutionize Earth's energy resources
Researchers at the University of Houston are striving toward decreasing electric bills with a breakthrough in thin film solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) that is currently being refined in UH labs. Originating from research at UH's Texas Center for Superconductivity and Advanced Materials, these SOFCs of the

Study suggests stroke-prevention strategy for kids pioneered at MCG is working
The incidence of first stroke in children with sickle cell disease in California has taken a nose-dive since 1998 and the likely reason is a program developed at the Medical College of Georgia to identify and treat kids at risk, a new study says.

K-State professor combines love of teaching, research to examine eye development
In April, a 31-year continuing research project of Gary Conrad's was renewed for another five-year period for $1.825 million. The research is funded by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health --

When male fish hum, females swim in, thanks to hormones, adaptable hearing
A small fish with a remarkable hearing system that enables females to zero in on the love hums broadcast by males during; the breeding systemisproviding scientists with clues that someday might provide a treatment for people with high-frequency hearing loss.

What are babies thinking before they start talking?
Babies as young as five months old make distinctions about categories of events that their parents do not, revealing new information about how language develops in humans. The research by Sue Hespos, assistant professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University, and Elizabeth Spelke, professor of psychology at Harvard University, was published in the July 22 issue of Nature in the article

Long-term heart damage may result from constant confrontation and defeat
A new study in animals shows that the body may seem to adapt, but long-term damage to the heart may be occurring.

Chemoradioimmunotherapy for advanced breast cancer: hope for the future?
A successful, and novel, technique to kill metastatic breast cancer cells by circumventing their chemo- and radioresistant mechanisms was by presented by Dr. John Giannios, Head of Radiotherapeutic Cancer Research at the IASO Hospital, Athens, Greece at the 18th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Cancer Research today (Tuesday 6 July 2004).

Jefferson-based technology promises to help find hard-to-diagnose appendicitis cases
About half of the 700,000 annual cases of suspected appendicitis in the United States lack the usual symptoms - pain in the lower right abdomen, fever and a rising white blood cell count - making the decision to operate somewhat problematic. Now, thanks to a new imaging agent based on technology developed by nuclear medicine researchers at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, doctors may finally have a way to rapidly and accurately detect those hard-to-diagnose cases.

Telemedicine via satellite - the way forward
ESA is one step nearer to establishing a Telemedicine via Satellite Programme thanks to a constructive meeting with telemedicine experts that took place at ESRIN early last week.

Mild cigarettes offer 'no advantage' to heavy smokers - Japanese study
Japanese smokers who believe that consuming 'light' or 'mild' cigarette brands will substantially reduce their nicotine intake are being misled, according to an article published today in BMC Public Health. Smokers who switch to these brands need to be made aware that the health risks are still substantial.

American Thoracic Society Journal news tips for July 2004 (second issue)
Journal news highlights include studies showing that: patients with asthma, when compared to normal controls, had much lower levels of plasma arginine, an amino acid that produces nitric oxide, considered to be vital in preventing asthma pathogenesis; lung transplant patients who develop flu, adenovirus and other respiratory viral infections have twice the risk of developing a potential killer syndrome; and researchers have used lung tumor biopsies to identify biomarkers to predict lung cancer clinical outcome.

Poker Flat Research Range supports unmanned aerial vehicle operations
Staff from Poker Flat Research Range helped secure crucial imagery of wildfires raging through Alaska, including those in their own backyard.

Endometrial cells can originate from donor-derived bone marrow cells
Donor derived endometrial cells were detected in biopsy samples of four women who received bone marrow transplants to treat leukemia.

Plant pathologists look to forensics to aid in biosecurity
In an effort to protect the nation's crops from possible bioterrorism, plant pathologists are exploring how to apply techniques typically used in crime labs as a tool to fight bioterrorism.

Human intelligence determined by volume and location of gray matter tissue in brain
General human intelligence appears to be based on the volume of gray matter tissue in certain regions of the brain, UC Irvine College of Medicine researchers have found in the most comprehensive structural brain-scan study of intelligence to date.

Ship-sinking monster waves revealed by ESA satellites
Once dismissed as a nautical myth, freakish ocean waves that rise as tall as ten-storey apartment blocks have been accepted as a leading cause of large ship sinkings. Results from ESA's ERS satellites helped establish the widespread existence of these 'rogue' waves and are now being used to study their origins.

Leg symptoms and severity of peripheral arterial disease predict functional decline
The presence and severity of peripheral arterial disease, as measured by comparing blood pressures in the arm and leg, and the nature of the leg symptoms a patient experiences can be used to identify those at highest risk of decline in walking endurance, according to a study in the July 28 issue of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

ORNL, sister DOE lab, technologies making a difference in North Carolina
After just two months, a partnership between Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Institute at Biltmore has hit full stride in support of entrepreneurs and economic development in Western North Carolina.

Donepezil may have short-term benefit for mild cognitive impairment
People with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) taking the drug donepezil were at reduced risk of progressing to Alzheimer's disease (AD) for the first 18 months of a 3-year study when compared with their counterparts on placebo, according to a presentation of preliminary data from a recently completed clinical trial supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Acamprosate: potential medication for treating alcoholism
Acamprosate is a medication used in Europe and elsewhere to prevent relapse in alcoholics. New findings, in conjunction with previous research, indicate that acamprosate should be safe to take when people are drinking, and should not make them want to drink more or behave differently over and above the effects of alcohol alone.

Digital evolution reveals the many ways to get to diversity
In finding an answer to

South African Ministers open African office of Clinical Trials Partnership
On 26th July 2004, the South African Minister of Health, Dr. Mantombazana Tshabalala-Msimang and Minister of Science & Technology, Mr. Mosibudi Mangena officially opened the African office of the European Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) Secretariat in Cape Town.

Vertigo can be treated at home
People with vertigo can get relief by doing maneuvers at home, according to a study published in the July 13 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study involved people with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, an inner ear problem that causes a feeling of spinning or whirling when you move your head into certain positions.

NIST's new way of 'seeing': A neutron microscope
A prototype microscope that uses neutrons instead of light to

ALL survivors bear genetic damage from life-saving chemotherapy
Children who undergo chemotherapy and survive acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) endure a 200-fold increase in the frequency of somatic mutations in their DNA, researchers from the University of Vermont Medical School reported in the July 1 issue of the journal Cancer Research.

News tips from the Journal of Neuroscience
Beta Amyloid-mediated inhibition of NMDA receptor-dependent long-term potentiation induction involves activation of microglia and stimulation of inducible nitric oxide synthase and superoxide. Point-light biological motion perception activates human premotor cortex.

Maternal DHA levels plays important role in infant development
Docosahexaenoic acid, or

Water study yields a few surprises for New England
New England's legacy of urban and industrial activities, together with recent development in forested areas, has affected the quality of rivers and ground water in cities and rural areas. The impact is reflected more quickly than expected as development begins to take hold. These are a few of the findings the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced today

Plant gene discovery could enhance plant growth, reduce fertilizer needs and phosphate pollution
Scientists at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research at Cornell University have uncovered the genes that enable plants to interact with beneficial soil dwelling fungi and to access phosphate delivered to the roots by these fungi -- a first step, they say, toward enhancing the beneficial relationship for crop plants , while reducing fertilizer use and phosphate pollution in the environment.

Yale receives $2.1 million Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant for HIV prevention in India
Yale University today announced that its Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA) has received a $2.1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support HIV prevention research among high-risk populations in India. The three-year grant will be used to conduct research on implementing structural interventions among high-risk groups in the four southern States of India with the highest HIV prevalence: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

That's not my hand! How the brain can be fooled into feeling a fake limb
Scientists have made the first recordings of the human brain's awareness of its own body, using the illusion of a strategically-placed rubber hand to trick the brain. Their findings shed light on disorders of self-perception such as schizophrenia, stroke and phantom limb syndrome, where sufferers may no longer recognize their own limbs or may experience pain from missing ones.

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