Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (June 2012)

Science news and science current events archive June, 2012.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from June 2012

Pitcher plant uses power of the rain to trap prey
Carnivorous plants have developed a variety of unique mechanisms to trap their prey, and researchers have another to add to the list: a pitcher plant that uses the impact of rain drops to flick insects into the trap. The full report is published June 13 in the open-access journal PLoS ONE.

Health interventions for clergy must counteract need to put others first
Clergy's practice of putting others first can be detrimental to their own health, say researchers at Duke University.

Bacterial armor for the first time visualized in minute detail
Many bacteria protect themselves against threats from the outside world by developing a protective protein layer that acts as armor. Scientists at the Flemish institute for Biotechnology and Vrije Universiteit Brussel succeeded in imaging the structure of this armor for the first time. The possible implications of the research are so varied and far-reaching (from infectious diseases to new nanomaterials), that the prestigious scientific journal Nature is featuring this breakthrough today.

Tablet computers may interfere with settings on magnetically programmable shunt valves
University of Michigan researchers found that the Apple iPad II can interfere with settings of magnetically programmable shunt devices used to treat hydrocephalus. The iPad II contains magnets that can change valve settings in the shunt if held too close to the valve (within two inches). Such a change may result in shunt malfunction until the problem is recognized and the valve adjusted to the proper setting.

New technology improves malaria control and vaccine development
A new technique that accurately determines the risk of infants in endemic countries developing clinical malaria could provide a valuable tool for evaluating new malaria prevention strategies and vaccines. The technique could even help to understand how anti-malarial vaccine and treatment strategies act to reduce malaria, say researchers from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, University of Basel and the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research.

Where to put nuclear waste?
Researchers in Finland have found that acceptance of the site of a spent nuclear fuel repository can depend on gender and economic background. Writing in the International Journal of Environmental Technology and Management, the team reports that affluent men more often have a positive opinion on the location of such facilities than women or disadvantaged people.

AGU journal highlights -- 29 June 2012
Featured in this release are research papers on the following topics:

NASA sees some heavy rainfall in tropical storm talim
Tropical Storm Talim formed in the South China Sea yesterday, June 18, just south of Hainan Island, China, and NASA's TRMM satellite captured rainfall data right after its birth, revealing some heavy rain.

Caltech scientists find new primitive mineral in meteorite
In 1969, an exploding fireball tore through the sky over Mexico, scattering thousands of pieces of meteorite across the state of Chihuahua. More than 40 years later, the Allende meteorite is still serving the scientific community as a rich source of information about the early stages of our solar system's evolution. Recently, scientists from the California Institute of Technology discovered a new mineral embedded in the space rock -- one they believe to be among the oldest minerals formed in the solar system.

Mothers' teen cannabinoid exposure may increase response of offspring to opiate drugs
A study in rats suggests that mothers who use marijuana during their teen years -- then stop -- may put their eventual offspring at risk of increased sensitivity to opiates.

The math of malaria
In a paper published this month in the SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, authors Daozhou Gao and Shigui Ruan propose a mathematical model to study malaria transmission among regions, and how it is influenced by human travel.

More than 9-in-10 ED patients who receive CT of the abdomen and pelvis are clinically complex
The overwhelming majority (93.8 percent) of patients undergoing computed tomography of the abdomen and pelvis in the emergency department (ED) setting are classified as clinically complex, according to a study in the June issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology. Clinically complex is used to describe patients who are, based on documentation of their ED physician, much sicker than others.

Adolescents and young adults with mental health disorders at risk of long-term opioid use
Long-term use and abuse of opioid painkillers, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, has markedly increased in the United States in the last two decades.

Sleep apnea linked to increased risk for carbohydrate craving among diabetics
Researchers are encouraging primary care physicians to screen for sleep apnea in patients with Type 2 diabetes after finding a high risk for sleep apnea among diabetics vs. non-diabetics in a clinic-based sample of 55 patients. They also determined that the sleep apnea appeared to be associated with carbohydrate craving, providing an indication of the magnitude of the risk between sleep apnea and self-reported carbohydrate craving in the diabetic population.

Stepped-care intervention results in weight loss, at lower cost
Although a standard behavioral weight loss intervention among overweight and obese adults resulted in greater average weight loss over 18 months, a stepped care intervention resulted in clinically meaningful weight loss that cost less to implement, according to a study in the June 27 issue of JAMA.

Prenatal exposure to common household chemical increases risk for childhood eczema, study says
Prenatal exposure to a ubiquitous household chemical called butylbenzyl phthalate can increase a child's risk for developing eczema, according to research conducted at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health.

Statins appear associated with reduced risk of recurrent cardiovascular events in men, women
Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs appear to be associated with reduced risk of recurrent cardiovascular events in men and women, but do not appear to be associated with reduced all-cause mortality or stroke in women, according to a report of a meta-analysis published June 25 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, a JAMA Network publication.

Living with the legacy of Alan Turing
A new book,

BPA exposure effects may last for generations
Exposure to low doses of Bisphenol A (BPA) during gestation had immediate and long-lasting, trans-generational effects on the brain and social behaviors in mice, according to a recent study accepted for publication in the journal Endocrinology, a publication of the Endocrine Society.

Keeping pace: Walking speed may signal thinking problems ahead
A new study shows that changes in walking speed in late life may signal the early stages of dementia known as mild cognitive impairment. The research is published in the June 12, 2012, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Recipient of first Chi-Bin Chien Award for Zebrafish Research named
The Chi-Bin Chien Award, established this year by the zebrafish research community and administered by the Genetics Society of America, is in memory of Chi-Bin Chien, Ph.D. (1965-2011), a prominent researcher from the University of Utah School of Medicine and an active zebrafish community volunteer. David Kokel, Ph.D. a postdoctoral researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School is the first recipient of this award, which honors excellence in research and zebrafish community participation.

World experts meet in Edinburgh to consider how life experiences impact on our genes
World experts from the fields of social, biological and medical science will today, June 25, 2012, gather in Edinburgh to discuss how they can cooperate to improve our understanding of the way behaviors and life experiences can influence how our genetic inheritance is expressed (epigenetics). This collaboration will also help contribute to understanding the implications epigenetic changes have for such key social policy issues as parenting, poverty, obesity and health.

SwRI building 8 NASA nanosatellites to help predict extreme weather events on Earth
NASA has selected a team including Southwest Research Institute to develop the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, which will provide better prediction capabilities for extreme weather events, particularly the intensification of hurricanes.

Bright X-ray flashes created in laser lab
A breakthrough in laser science was achieved in Vienna: in the labs of the Photonics Institute at the Vienna University of Technology, a new method of producing bright laser pulses at X-ray energies was developed. The radiation covers a broad energy spectrum and can therefore be used for a wide range of applications. Up until now, similar kinds of radiation could only be produced in particle accelerators (synchrotrons).

La Draga Neolithic site in Banyoles yields the oldest Neolithic bow discovered in Europe
Researchers from UAB and CSIC have discovered the oldest Neolithic bow in Europe at La Draga Neolithic site in Banyoles. The complete bow measures 108 cm long and was constructed using yew wood. It is the newest addition to the discovery of fragments of two more bows in 2002 and 2005. The excavation includes the participation of archaeology students from UAB.

ORNL/UTK team maps the nuclear landscape
An Oak Ridge National Laboratory and University of Tennessee team has used the Department of Energy's Jaguar supercomputer to calculate the number of isotopes allowed by the laws of physics.

JILA frequency comb helps evaluate novel biomedical decontamination method
JILA researchers are using a laser frequency comb -- a technique for making extraordinarily precise measurements of frequency -- to identify specific molecules in gases. The project is helping biomedical researchers evaluate a novel instrument that kills harmful bacteria without the use of liquid chemicals or high temperatures.

Reconstructive surgery after female genital mutilation reduces pain, improves sexual pleasure, and could help thousands of women
Reconstructive surgery after female genital mutilation (FGM) appears to reduce pain and restore sexual pleasure in women, according to the first large prospective trial to assess long-term outcomes of a new surgical technique published Online First in the Lancet. Over the past ten years, between 130 and 140 million women worldwide have been subject to FGM.

Antidepressant helps relieve pain from chemotherapy, study finds
The antidepressant drug duloxetine, known commercially as Cymbalta, helped relieve painful tingling feelings caused by chemotherapy in 59 percent of patients, a new study finds. This is the first clinical trial to find an effective treatment for this pain.

NIH study finds HIV-positive young men at risk of low bone mass
Young men being treated for HIV are more likely to experience low bone mass than are other men their age, according to results from a research network supported by the National Institutes of Health. The findings indicate that physicians who care for these patients should monitor them regularly for signs of bone thinning, which could foretell a risk for fractures. The young men in the study did not have HIV at birth and had been diagnosed with HIV an average of two years earlier.

Chronic kidney disease patients could be at similar levels of coronary risk to those who have previously had a heart attack
Patients suffering from chronic kidney disease could be at as high a risk of coronary heart disease as patients who have previously had a heart attack, according to an article published Online First in the Lancet.

Timing, duration of biochemical bugle call critical for fighting viruses
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified the primary player of the biochemical bugle call that musters the body's defenders against viral infection.

First photos ever of jaguars in Colombian oil palm plantation taken with Panthera's camera traps
Panthera's camera traps recently produced the first photographic evidence of wild jaguars with cubs in an oil palm plantation in Colombia. These rare photos confirm that in some cases, jaguars are willing to move through oil palm. Importantly, the photos come from a small plantation adjacent to a protected area with some indigenous habitat present - perhaps the best case scenario for fostering jaguar use of palm oil tracts.

Toward a more economical process for making biodiesel fuel from algae
A new process to transform algae directly into biodiesel and other renewable fuels uses carbon dioxide in place of toxic solvents. Early work on the new method, which could raise algae's profile as a source of green biofuels, was described at the 16th annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, put on here in Washington June 19-23 by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute.

Many new mothers spend more time on Facebook after giving birth
A small, exploratory study suggests that many first-time parents - particularly mothers - actually increase the amount of time they spend on Facebook after the birth of their child.

Early menopause linked to increased risk of brain aneurysm
The younger a woman is when she goes through the menopause, the greater may be her risk of having a brain aneurysm, suggests research published online first in the Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery.

NHM entomologist wins grant to investigate mega-diverse insect order
This week the NSF awarded a three-year $900,000 grant to co-investigators Drs. Brian Brown (Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County) and Art Borkent (Royal British Columbia Museum, Canada) to determine how many different species of flies live in a cloud forest in Costa Rica. Leading a team of 42 world experts, they will inventory a 100 by 200 meter area, and are estimating they will discover at least 3,000 species, many of them new to science.

Exposure to environmental chemicals in the womb reprograms the rodent brain to disrupt reproduction
Prenatal exposure to the environmental contaminants polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, causes long-term changes to the developing brain that have adverse effects on reproductive function later in life, a new study finds. Results will be presented Saturday at the Endocrine Society's 94th Annual Meeting in Houston.

NASA sees Tropical Depression Talim becoming disorganized
Tropical Storm Talim has weakened overnight due to stronger wind shear and land interaction and is now a depression. NASA satellite data from June 21 revealed that the thunderstorms that make up the tropical cyclone are scattered and disorganized.

1 million billion billion billion billion billion billion: Number of undiscovered drugs
A new voyage into

Still capable of adapting: Research team studies genetic diversity of living fossils
The morphology of coelacanths has not fundamentally changed since the Devonian age, that is, for about 400 million years. Nevertheless, these animals known as living fossils are able to genetically adapt to their environment. This is described by Dr. Kathrin Lampert from the RUB's Department of Animal Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity along with colleagues from Wuerzburg, Bremen, Kiel, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in the journal Current Biology.

Physicists discover mechanisms of wrinkle and crumple formation
How a featureless sheet develops a complex shape has long remained elusive, but now UMass Amherst physicists have identified a fundamental mechanism by which such complex patterns emerge spontaneously.

New apps redefine poetry
Jason Lewis's work is an integral part of Concordia University's Department of Design and Computation Arts, with projects ranging from computer game development to typographic design. A poet as well as a techie, the associate professor is combining his computing skills with the act of literary creation to develop new methods of poetic expression through a suite of 10 brand new digital poetry apps.

VCU researchers identify changes in cholesterol metabolic pathways
A new study from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine has identified molecular changes responsible for abnormal cholesterol production and metabolism in the livers of patients with a common liver condition, and these changes may explain the severity of a patient's liver disease and risks to their heart health.

Bees shed light on human sweet perception and metabolic disorders
Scientists at Arizona State University have discovered that honey bees may teach us about basic connections between taste perception and metabolic disorders in humans. By experimenting with honey bee genetics, researchers have identified connections between sugar sensitivity, diabetic physiology and carbohydrate metabolism. Bees and humans may partially share these connections.

Policies to discourage drug trafficking should account for complexity of 'the game'
Drug traffickers who want to leave the

High-contrast, high-resolution CT scans now possible at reduced dose
Scientists have developed an X-ray imaging method that could drastically improve the contrast of CT scans whilst reducing the radiation dose. The method is based on combining the high contrast of an X-ray technique known as grating interferometry with the three-dimensional capabilities of CT. It is also compatible with clinical CT apparatus where an X-ray source and detector rotate around the patient during a scan. The results are published in PNAS dated June 4-8, 2012.

Winner of Origins of Life Challenge announced
In mid-2011, retired California chemist and entrepreneur Harry Lonsdale issued a challenge to the origin of life scientific community to come up with novel ideas for explaining the mechanism of life's origin, through the Origin of Life Challenge. The winners were announced today by Lonsdale in collaboration with the Origins Project at Arizona State University and its director Lawrence Krauss.

Study finds high risk of GI cancers among childhood cancer survivors
Survivors of childhood cancers are at an increased risk of another battle with cancer later in life, according to new research published online June 5 by the Annals of Internal Medicine. In the largest study to date of risk for gastrointestinal cancers among people first diagnosed with cancer before the age of 21, researchers found that childhood cancer survivors develop these malignancies at a rate nearly five times that of the general population.

Pasta made from green banana flour a tasty alternative for gluten-free diets
People with celiac disease struggle with limited food choices, as their condition makes them unable to tolerate gluten, found in wheat and other grains. Researchers from the University of Brazil have developed a gluten-free pasta product from green banana flour, which tasters found more acceptable than regular whole wheat pasta. The product has less fat and is cheaper to produce than standard pastas. Their research is published today in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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