Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (June 2011)

Science news and science current events archive June, 2011.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from June 2011

New MRSA variant detected in cow's milk that can evade some existing detection methods
An article published online first by the Lancet Infectious Diseases reports detection of a new variant of meticilin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in cow's milk -- genetically different to existing MRSA strains -- from the UK and Denmark. This new variant is associated with clinical disease in people, yet some existing testing methods would wrongly identify this new variant as meticillin-susceptible, leading to prescriptions of the wrong antibiotics.

Stable temperatures boost biodiversity in tropical mountains
We often think of rainforests and coral reefs as hotspots for biodiversity, but mountains are treasure troves for species too -- especially in the tropics, scientists say. But what drives montane biodiversity? The diversity of plants and animals in tropical mountain ranges may have something to do with the stable seasonal temperatures found in the tropics relative to higher latitudes, says a new study by scientists working at the US National Evolutionary Synthesis Center.

ASCO: Glioblastoma in the 21st century: Wealthier patients living longer than poorer patients
Survival rates of wealthier patients and those younger than 70 with glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive malignant brain tumor, have improved since 2000, whereas rates for those living in poorer areas and older than 70 have remained stagnant, according to an abstract being presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago by Thomas Jefferson University Hospital researchers.

CERN group traps antihydrogen atoms for more than 16 minutes
The ALPHA experiment at CERN last year reported trapping 38 antihydrogen atoms for 0.1 seconds each. They've gotten better. In a run late last year, they captured more than 100 for up to 1,000 seconds each, enough to start long-awaited experiments to determine the energy levels of antiatoms, according to UC Berkeley's Joel Fajans. They also plan gravitational experiments to see if matter and antimatter have the same properties.

'Orca ears' inspire Stanford researchers to develop ultrasensitive undersea microphone
Stanford researchers have developed a microphone that can be used at any depth in the ocean, even under crushing pressure, and is sensitive to a wide range of sounds, from a whisper in a library to an explosion of TNT. They modeled their device after the extraordinarily acute hearing of orcas.

CT angiography improves detection of heart disease in African-Americans
Researchers may have discovered one reason that African-Americans are at increased risk for heart attacks and other cardiovascular events. According to a new study, African Americans have increased levels of non-calcified plaque, which consists of buildups of soft deposits deep in the walls of the arteries that are not detected by some cardiac tests.

Columbia Engineering team makes major step in improving forecasts of weather extremes
Columbia Engineering, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and Rutgers University researchers have demonstrated that high evaporation increases the probability of afternoon rainfall in eastern US and Mexico.

Picower: 1 skull + 2 brains = 4 objects in mind
MIT neuroscientists could be put to immediate use in designing more effective cognitive therapy, smarter brain games, better

'Beyond Deep Blue: Chess in the Stratosphere'
The new book

Multimedia stories show how engineers shape the future
The National Science Foundation (NSF) today released a special report featuring the work of a creative group of researchers -- engineers who are investigating new phenomena, devising new capabilities, and designing new technologies. Through a series of multimedia stories,

Scientists study earthquake triggers in Pacific Ocean
New samples of rock and sediment from the depths of the eastern Pacific Ocean may help explain the cause of large, destructive earthquakes similar to the Tohoku Earthquake that struck Japan in mid-March. Nearly 1,500 meters (almost one mile) of core collected from the ocean floor near the coast of Costa Rica reveal detailed records of approximately two million years of tectonic activity along a seismic plate boundary.

Researchers identify protein that improves DNA repair under stress
New research by a team of scientists at the University of Rochester has unveiled an important new mechanism that allows cells to recognize when they are under stress and prime the DNA repair machinery to respond to the threat of damage.

Misconceptions of risk
Professor Terje Aven has an ambitious goal, to build a scientific platform for the fields of risk assessment and risk management. His latest contributions to this end is three scientific monographs addressing some fundamental issues about risk.

A galactic crash investigation
A team of scientists has studied the galaxy cluster Abell 2744, nicknamed Pandora's Cluster. They have pieced together the cluster's complex and violent history using telescopes in space and on the ground, including ESO's Very Large Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope. Abell 2744 seems to be the result of a simultaneous pile-up of at least four separate galaxy clusters and this complex collision has produced strange effects that have never been seen together before.

Latest guide on child and adolescent psychiatry
The 4th edition of the

Researchers engineer the environment for stem cell development to control differentiation
New research shows that systematically controlling the local and global environments during stem cell development helps to effectively direct the process of differentiation. In the future, these findings could be used to develop manufacturing procedures for producing large quantities of stem cells for diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

Signaling pathways point to vulnerability in breast cancer stem cells
Whitehead Institute researchers have identified signals impinging on breast epithelial cells that can induce those cells to acquire and stably display migratory and self-renewing characteristics. These signals appear to be responsible for maintaining both normal mammary epithelial stem cells and the stem cells in breast carcinomas. Interrupting these and other extracellular signals strips the various types of stem cells of the migratory and self-renewal abilities used by cancer stem cells to seed new tumors.

Mutations in essential genes often cause rare diseases
Mutations in genes essential to survival are behind so-called orphan diseases, explaining in part why these diseases are rare and often deadly, according to a study appearing in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Jellyfish blooms transfer food energy from fish to bacteria
Jellyfish can be a nuisance to bathers and boaters in the Chesapeake Bay on the United States' East Coast and many other places along the world's coasts.

Migration interception practices are a major threat to health
In the fifth article of a six-part PLoS Medicine series on migration and health, Zachary Steel from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and colleagues discuss the health risks associated with

Testosterone therapy improves memory in postmenopausal women
Post-menopausal women have better memory after daily treatment with a testosterone spray for six months, a new preliminary study finds. The results will be presented Saturday at The Endocrine Society's 93rd Annual Meeting in Boston.

AACR's CR magazine honored with 4 prestigious journalism awards
The American Association for Cancer Research is pleased to announce that CR -- AACR's magazine for cancer survivors, their families and caregivers -- won first place in the 2011 National Media Awards of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. Separately, it received three additional awards from the Greater Philadelphia Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Forecast: Tough times ahead for daily deal sites
Over the next few years, it is likely that daily deal sites will have to settle for lower shares of revenues from businesses compared with their current levels, and it will be harder and more expensive for them to find viable candidates to fill their pipelines of daily deals, according to Utpal Dholakia, associate professor of management at Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business.

Does baseline concussion testing really reduce risks to athletes?
Baseline concussion tests given to hundreds of thousands of athletes might, paradoxically, increase risks in some cases, according to a Loyola University Health System researcher.

Getting an accurate read on Parkinson's
Through the use of a new statistical algorithm, Dr. Chava Peretz of Tel Aviv University traced drug use as reflected in the records of a major Israeli HMO. Her results proved to more accurately reflect the true extent of Parkinson's disease in the Israeli population, providing warning signals for government public health agencies around the world.

Landmark editorial denounces 'poor publication practices' in spine research
A landmark editorial in the nation's leading spine journal is challenging the integrity of published industry-sponsored research involving a bone-growth product. The editorial notes that in 13 trials involving 780 patients, industry-funded researchers did not report a single adverse advent involving Medtronic's Infuse Bone Graft.

NSF launches Science360 for iPad application
The National Science Foundation's Science360 for iPad application is now available in the App Store section of Apple's iTunes. This application features spectacular images from NSF-funded institutions in high-resolution for download to the iPad. The application also allows users to share images and video on Facebook and Twitter or via email. In addition, breaking science news is always at a user's fingertips through the application news feed.

Natural gases a therapy for heart disease?
Research carried out by scientists from the Peninsula Medical School at the University of Exeter and the National University of Singapore has analyzed the complex

Pandora's cluster
A team of scientists has studied the galaxy cluster Abell 2744, nicknamed Pandora's Cluster. They have pieced together the cluster's complex and violent history using telescopes in space and on the ground, including the Hubble Space Telescope and ESO's Very Large Telescope. Abell 2744 seems to be the result of a simultaneous pile-up of at least four separate galaxy clusters and this complex collision has produced strange effects that have never been seen together before.

Obese dieters' brain chemistry works against their weight-loss efforts
A University of Illinois study published in Obesity finds that when obese individuals reduce their food intake too drastically, their bodies appear to resist their weight loss efforts. The author particularly cautions against beginning a diet with a fast or cleansing day, which appears to trigger significant alterations in the immune system that work against weight loss.

Internationally acclaimed immunologist shares $1 million Shaw Prize
Dr. Bruce Beutler, an internationally recognized leader in immunology recruited to be the director of a new Center for the Genetics of Host Defense at UT Southwestern Medical Center, is one of three winners to share the $1 million 2011 Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine for their work on innate immunity.

Tapping titanium's colorful potential
A new, cost-effective process for coloring titanium can be used in manufacturing products from sporting equipment to color-coded nuclear waste containers.

Drinking, cannabis use and psychological distress increase, CAMH survey finds
The latest survey of Ontario adults from Canada's Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) shows increasing rates of daily drinking and cannabis use and high levels of psychological distress. The results of the 2009 CAMH Monitor survey, the longest running survey tracking mental health and addiction indicators among adults in Ontario, were published today.

Wayne State to study the role of vitamin D in African-Americans with high blood pressure
Researchers at Wayne State University in Detroit are working to determine how vitamin D affects cardiac structure and function, and vascular function in blacks with hypertension. The research could identify vitamin D as a safe, effective and inexpensive therapy to stop, and even reverse, cardiac ravages caused by high blood pressure.

Rotavirus vaccine greatly reduced gastroenteritis hospitalizations in children
Vaccination against rotavirus, a major cause of severe acute gastroenteritis in children, dramatically decreased hospitalization rates for the infection among infants in three US counties, according to a new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases and now available online.

Heightened immunity to colds makes asthma flare-ups worse, U-M research shows
People often talk about

Smoking may increase risk of prostate cancer recurrence, death
A new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and University of California, San Francisco, researchers suggests that men with prostate cancer who smoke increase their risk of prostate cancer recurrence and of dying from the disease.

Sudden cardiac death subject of sweeping UCSF study in San Francisco
A new study by the University of California, San Francisco's Cardiac Electrophysiology Service seeks to discover for the first time the true causes of sudden cardiac death, why it is more prevalent in some demographic populations, and whether it is too often inaccurately cited as a cause of death.

CSHL structural biologists reveal novel drug binding site in NMDA receptor subunit
Structural biologists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have obtained a precise molecular map of the binding site for an allosteric inhibitor in a subtype of the NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptor, which is commonly expressed in brain cells, dysfunctions of which have been implicated in depression, schizophrenia, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.

Many migraine sufferers can predict their migraine attack -- may create new treatment possibilities
As many as one-third of sufferers of migraine with aura experience forewarning symptoms even the day before an attack that might create an opportunity for intervention and prevention. Later during the actual migraine episode then a significant number of migraine sufferers experience aura prior to an attack, which is characterized by visual disturbances, illusions, zigzag lines, blind spots, speech disturbances and tingling or numbness on one side of the body.

Plant pathologist finding Kansas wheat fields a molecular battleground this season
A Kansas State University plant pathologist is finding in a statewide study that this year Kansas wheat has also been battling a much smaller opponent: viruses.

University dental device wins medical innovation award
A team of scientists from the University of Liverpool has won an award for developing a device that can identify early tooth decay and plaque before it is visible to the human eye.

Tapping into plants is the key to combat climate change, says scientist
The mechanics behind photosynthesis in plants could be used in the fight against climate change, a scientist at Queen Mary, University of London says.

Most heart-attack patients needing procedure at another hospital not transferred in recommended time
Only about 10 percent of patients with a certain type of heart attack who need to be transferred to another hospital for a PCI (procedures such as balloon angioplasty or stent placement used to open narrowed coronary arteries) are transferred within the recommended time of 30 minutes, according to a study in the June 22/29 issue of JAMA.

Researchers look for ingredients of happiness around the world
In a new study, researchers at the University of Illinois put Maslow's

Many a mickle makes a muckle: How changes in animals' size and shape arise
How does nature's great diversity in the shape and size of organisms evolve? The group of David Stern at Princeton University has managed to show how in fruit flies a gene enhancer can change its function through stepwise changes in DNA sequence to give rise to differences in animals' appearance. Alistair McGregor of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, contributed to the work, which is published as an article in the current issue of Nature.

Pregnant women can prevent excess weight gain with simple steps, study finds
A new study reports that a low-cost healthy lifestyle program, including self-weighing weekly or monthly, by pregnant women with pre-existing overweight can prevent them from gaining too much weight during early pregnancy. The researchers will present the results Sunday at The Endocrine Society's 93rd Annual Meeting in Boston.

Groundbreaking male infertility test could 'bring hope to millions'
A groundbreaking new test for male infertility, which will save time, money and heartache for couples around the world, has been developed at Queen's University Belfast. The medical breakthrough, known as the SpermComet, has resulted from more than a decade's research by Professor Sheena Lewis, who leads the Reproductive Medicine research group at Queen's.

Assessing agroforestry's advantages
Agroforestry can provide production benefits while capturing substantial amounts of carbon on agricultural lands. Research is being conducted towards developing a method of accurately determining agroforestry's benefits in farming operations.

New insights on how solar minimums affect Earth
Observations have shown that magnetic effects on Earth due to the sun did in fact reach a minimum -- indeed they attained their lowest levels of the century -- but some eight months later. The scientists believe that factors in the speed of the solar wind, and the strength and direction of the magnetic fields embedded within it, helped produce this anomalous low.

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