Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (March 1997)

Science news and science current events archive March, 1997.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from March 1997

EPA Superfund Site Study Evaluates Mercury Exposure At Turtle River, Brunswick, GA
Former workers of Allied/LCP Chemical Plant in Brunswick, Georgia, will participate in a study of mercury exposure following the closing of the plant in 1994. This site, currently studied by researchers from Emory University and the University of Georgia, was added to the EPA's Superfund list in 1995

Scientists Propose Theory For Brain's Mastery Of Language
Human brains may be wired with a sort of universal language program that enables infants to pick up quickly the complex and subtle patterns of their drastically different native tongues. An article on this new

Protein Strengthens Link Between Addiction And Long-Term Memory
Johns Hopkins scientists have discovered a new protein, called Homer, that becomes active in rat brain cells during exposure to cocaine and during a lab model of long-term memory creation

A Drug Pump On A Computer Chip
Biomedical engineers have built a prototype drug pump the size of a contact lens, a miniature, closed-loop implant that could monitor its own flow rate to ensure a steady stream of medicine

Would You Trust A Robot To Sort Chocolates?
A chocoholic Johns Hopkins graduate student working in a computer vision lab has figured out how a computer can tell the difference between the candies with the creamy middles and the bumpy chocolate-covered peanut clusters. It may sound like a silly exercise, but, actually, teaching a computer to distinguish among curved objects -- not just those with straight, hard edges -- is quite an advance

Natural Selection Study Shows Animals Can Adapt Dramatically Fast
In a unique, real-world test of the theory of evolution, a National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported research team has demonstrated that animals can adapt to sudden changes in their environment with surprising speed. It's a finding that challengescurrent methods of evaluating evolutionary changes through the fossil record

Reaching New Heights In Global Change Research At ORNL
Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory are simulating the environment of the future by releasing controlled amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over a small patch of sweetgum trees. The simulation is designed toaddress the global warming question of how forests and ecosystems will react to increased carbon dioxide in the environment

Erodible plastic microspheres could be effective oral drug delivery system
In the March 27 issue of the journal Nature, Brown University scientists describe a new technique of encapsulating drugs in biodegradable plastic microspheres that could allow oral administration of insulin and other drugs not now given orally. By crossing the intestinal lining and degrading over time, the microspheres furnish a supply of drugs to the body and may become a more effective delivery system than injections and other techniques.

New Theory Explains Quick Switch in Switchable Mirrors
University of Cincinnati physicist will discuss a new theory which can explain the unusual transition from mirror to window in rare earth hydrides during the annual meeting of the American Physical Society March 19 in Kansas City. The theory was developed as part of an international collaboration

Research At New England Universities And Industries Facing Uncertain Future Under Proposed R&D Reductions
Members of the New England Congressional delegation were advised today that the high technology industry in the region could be hurt by reductions in federal R&D programs being proposed by the White House and Congress.

New Study Shows Steps Leading To Colon Cancer
New research done on insects in North Carolina and on human cells elsewhere has identified a key signaling mechanism required for normal embryonic development. When inappropriately activated, studies show, the mechanism turns healthy cells first into abnormal ones and then often into tumors

Hopkins Researchers Discover Genetic Pathway Linked To 90 Percent Of Colon Cancer
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center and University Hospital in Utrecht, the Netherlands have identified a genetic pathway that may play a role in the development of as many as 90 percent of all colon cancers. They say that the abnormal gene activity in this pathway could offer new targets for anticancer drug therapy

New Study Boosts Idea Of Past Life On Mars
New isotopic analyses of the meteorite that provided hints of past life on Mars reveals a low-temperature origin, boosting the idea that features of the meteorite may have been formed by living organisms

Sandia Earns A+ On School Security Program Achievements White House Sent Account Of Success At New Mexico High School
A pilot school security program between Sandia National Laboratories and Belen High School (N.M.) is being credited for reducing vandalism by 75 percent, vehicle theft by 80 percent and truancy by 30 percent. In addition, fights, previously a weekl

Colorado State University Researchers Find No Link Between Moderate Red Wine Consumption And Weight Gain
Love wine with dinner but you're on a diet? A study by two Colorado State researchers concludes that calories from red wine do not cause weight gain, possibly because calories from alcohol are metabolized differently than food calories. The study appears March 31 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition

New Laparoscopic Technique Makes Kidney Donation Easier
People who want to donate a kidney to a loved one can now do it with less pain, a shorter hospital stay and a much faster recovery. Surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center have made that possible by using a laparoscopic technique to remove the kidney instead of making a large incision

President's Budget Proposal Cuts R&D By 14 Percent By 2002
The forecast for federal R&D funding has improved over past budget proposals, yet all signs continue to point downward as the Administration and Congress press for a balanced budget by the year 2002. A new report by AAAS indicates R&D funding is improving over previous plans, but the overall R&D budget is still shrinking

ORNL Researchers Developing Cost-Effective Ceramic Valves For Advanced Heat Engines
Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have participated in the development of ceramic valves that offer longer life and better durability. The valves were developed as part of the Ceramic Technology Project, a program for the development of an industrial technology base to provide reliable and cost-effective, high- temperature ceramic components for advanced heat engines.

UNESCO, Columbia University And The Smithsonian Team Up For Research On MAB (Man And Biosphere)
UNESCO, The Smithsonian Institution and Columbia University have agreed to collaborate in research, training and outreach activities to encourage economic development consistent with preserving the environment and biodiversity. An important component ofthis collaborative work will to develop projects involving North-South environmental and economic policies

University of Georgia Scientists Describe First Structure Of A Family Of Enzymes Important In Plants And Animals
Biochemists at the University of Georgia have for the first time described the crystal structure of an enzyme crucial to an important class of organic chemicals called aldehydes

Study Suggests New Way To Reduce Disability Among The Elderly
A new study by researchers at the National Institute on Aging demonstrates that a small number of diseases and conditions that can lead to hospitalization -- stroke, hip fracture, congestive heart failure, pneumonia, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and dehydration -- are responsible for a large proportion of severe disability in older people.

Hopkins Researchers Report Lack Of Education And Counseling For Patients Undergoing Gene Testing
Results of a nationwide survey of physicians and genetic counselors conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions show that most patients who underwent genetic testing for a gene linked with colon cancer did not receive adequate genetic counseling or give their written informed consent for the test

Perforation-Resistant Material Receives Patent
A new material, developed at Virginia Tech for its potential applications for body and vehicle armor, has received a patent (Patent 5,614,305 issued March 25, 1997).

Smallest Force Measurement Reported
Scientists at Stanford University and IBM Almaden Research Center report the first known measurement of forces in the atto-newton (billionth of a billionth of a pound) level: forces too weak to budge a blood cell.A presentation at the American Physical Society meeting in Kansas City

Lower Metabolic Rates May Make It Harder For Black Women To Lose Weight
At rest, overweight African American women burn fewer calories than overweight Caucasian women, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. The findings are among the first to suggest that biological factors may be partly responsible for higher rates of obesity in black women

Drug Slows Blindness In AIDS Patients
AIDS patients facing blindness from a virus infection may respond to the drug cidofovir, according to results of a multicenter study led by a Johns Hopkins researcher.

Scientists Land New Way To Modify Ultrasmall Surfaces
It sounds like a James Bond thriller - tiny chemical structures are parachuted onto a surface for strategic safe- keeping, and retrieved when duty calls. Purdue University scientists have developed a way to bring ions in for a

Study Finds Teens Who Thrive, Survive While Living Alone
Research by a University of Cincinnati educator indicates that teenagers do not always suffer when living alone away from their parents. Professor Joel Milgram found teenagers living in several different cities who successfully managed to live independently during their high school years. The case studies will be included in an upcoming book

New Breast Cancer Procedure Gives Women New Hope, Say Henry Ford Surgeons
Henry Ford Health System surgeons are offering women with breast cancer a new surgical procedure that not only leaves women with less pain than traditional methods but also helps doctors determine, more accurately, if the breast cancer has spread

Study Shows Climb Up Corporate Ladder Often Stalled By Overseas Assignments
Executives who accept overseas postings face an even bigger challenge when they return home, according to a Simon Fraser University study involving the biggest U.S. multinational companies. Rosalie Tung, professor of international business, found repatriation is frequently marred by uncertain advancement prospects, decreased responsibilities, reduced perks and family adjustment challenges

Meteorite Study Shows Glimpse Of Red Planet's Ancestry
While the controversy continues over whether a Martian meteorite bears evidence of ancient life on Mars, a Purdue University scientist says the rocky fragments can tell us something about the early life of the planet itself. He will present findings March 18 at the 28th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

New Potential Target Found For Treating Parasitic Diseases
Researchers at Indiana University and the University of Pennsylvania have discovered what they hope will be a new target for destroying some single-celled parasites, including the malaria-causing Plasmodium and Toxoplasma, which often causes AIDS-related infections

Study Shows Gum Disease Increases Risk Of Future Heart Disease
Persons with gum disease are at high risk of developing heart disease in the future, particularly if they also are diabetic, researchers in the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine reported today at the annual meeting of the International Association for Dental Research.

Study: Education Needed To Improve End-Of-Life Care
Intensive education for doctors and special programs within hospitals are more likely to change the kind of care dying people receive than advance care directives, sometimes called

UMass Polymer Scientist's Work In Surfaces Has Far-Reaching Implications
A University of Massachusetts professor has found a way to endow surfaces with precise qualities, such as their degrees of polarity or water absorption -- and all on a molecular scale. The research, by polymer scientist Thomas P. Russell, is detailed inthe March 7 issue of Science

Free Program On The World Wide Web Lets Users Analyze What They Eat
People concerned about what they eat can now use a Web-based program developed by the University of Illinois to analyze the nutrients in more than 5,200 common food items

Govnews Project Takes Democracy Into Cyberspace
The International GovNews Project has announced a special government category on the Internet's Usenet news system. The creation of this new category lays the groundwork for the wide, cost-effective electronic dissemination and discussion by topic of large amounts of public government information

Routine Dental X-ray May Be A Valuable Tool In Stroke Prevention
Researchers at the University at Buffalo are the first to show in a general population that a standard dental X-ray can detect potentially dangerous calcium deposits in the carotid arteries that increase the risk for stroke. Their study was presented today at the International Association of Dental Research meeting.

Pacific Northwest's High-Tech Industry Faces Uncertain Future Under Proposed Cuts To Federal R&D Programs
High-tech advances in the Pacific Northwest could be hampered by proposed cuts in funding for federal R&D programs, according to a report released today by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Eating After Exertion May Be A Key To Speeding Body's Recovery
A post-exercise meal containing amino acids and carbohydrates may speed your body's recovery and enhance peak-performance levels, according to University of Illinois scientists

Discovery May Be "Smoking Gun" In Gamma Ray Burst Mystery
An international team of university and NASA astronomers have detected a flash of light from a distant galaxy - a sentinel that may definitively solve a 30-year mystery in astrophysics by demonstrating that cosmic gamma-ray bursts come from the distant reaches of the universe.

The Suspect Confessed. Case Closed? Not Necessarily, Researcher Says
Police no longer use bright lights and rubber hoses to extract confessions from criminal suspects, but according to a psychological researcher, the nonviolent techniques they do use are no less likely to produce false confessions and confession evidence, even that improperly obtained, is powerfully persuasive to juries

Emory Research Provides New Insight Into Characteristics Of Children With Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
A new Emory University study overturns the notion that children with fetal alcohol syndrome have the same learning problems as children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD). The Emory team uncoverd major differenes in how children withFAS learn from those children with ADHD

Aviation And Turbulence: FAA And NCAR Continue Investigations
The FAA and NCAR explore a new detection and warning system for Juneau, Alaska, and tackle remote sensing and forecasting problems. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy seeks NCAR's help with choppy winds on high- speed vessels.

Clear-Cutting In Central Africa
The U.S. must play a key role in saving central Africa's tropical forests, now in sudden peril due to an unprecedented land rush by high-volume logging companies, according to Michael Fay, a conservation biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) headquartered at the Bronx Zoo.

New information about Hale
A yearlong series of Hubble Space Telescope observations of comet Hale-Bopp has yielded surprising information contradicting standard assumptions about comet structure. Astronomers from Johns Hopkins and other institutions are detailing their findings inthe March 28 edition of Science.

New Television Violence Analysis Suggests Public Service Announcements Ineffective
A study of 100 public service announcements produced by the U.S. cable television industry to reduce violence among adolescents indicates that the PSAs are unlikely to be effective because of poor design, researchers say

MSX Successfully Observes Combined Experiments Program Flights
The Midcourse Space Experiment satellite, launched to gather data for future missile defense systems, has successfully tracked two medium-range missiles, according to scientsts at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

When Satellites Mislead: Scientists Prescribe Caution
Temperature-gleaning satellites are useful tools in the quest to diagnose global change, but only when their limitations are well understood. This is the message conveyed by scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, in an article appearing in the journal Nature on March 13. NCAR is managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship of the National Science Foundation.

New Study Is First To Look Beyond General Attitudes About End-Of-Life Options And Ask Older People What They Would Do
A study of nearly 400 older adults (age 60 to 100) finds that about a third of them would prefer for someone else -- a family member, close friend or physician -- to make their end-of-life decisions is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to